We are a technology-driven society and the systems and platforms a company can use are nearly endless. We use them for everything from HR to sales to CRMs to accounting software. But, there comes a time in every company’s life cycle where a system or platform needs to be switched out due to outdated software or technology, increased business needs, a change in laws affecting the business, etc.
The actual change of systems and platforms directly affects the company’s workforce, whether it’s a system that gives them information or one they interact with to enter information. Rolling out a new system to employees can be daunting, no matter the size of the company. Taking a systematic approach can ease the stress of the new system roll out both for the person rolling it out and for the employees who will be using it.
Many years ago I helped in the development and launch of a new sales system that allowed our sales team to see current sales information for their retail locations. This allowed our sales team to understand when and where sales were happening, and it helped them craft a plan to speak with the retail locations to help drive sales. Below are the six steps I took in rolling out this new system.
- Get Your Managers Involved
Your managers will be your first-line of support for the new system. Getting them involved early in the process will help make the transition much smoother as they will be able to give feedback on a variety of things, such as:
- How their direct reports will use the system based on how they use the current system
- Watch-out items, scenarios, and topics to help the transition move smoother
- Types and frequency of training needed by their team members
Pre-training with your management team is a great way to get their buy-in for the system change, allow them to use the system to test it out, and to set expectations with clear deadlines. The testing part is really important. Whether the system is out-of-the-box, specifically designed for your company, or somewhere in between, testing it before rolling it out company-wide is important to work out the bugs and identify features that won’t be used or that need to be added.
It is important for the person or department rolling out the new system to understand that their vision of how the system should be used isn’t necessarily the way it will be used. For instance, if you’re adding a Salesforce CRM integration, emphasize both the practical aspects and the benefits. Going through this training will help all parties understand the usability, spark questions and solutions/changes for the system and roll out.
- Slow Roll Out
Slowly rolling out a new system will help work all the bugs out early on. I can’t recall a single system roll out that didn’t have some changes, updates, or bugs within the first 30 days. Rolling it out to a select group initially will help to find those things and fix them before rolling it out to the whole organization. It also makes for a smoother roll out to a larger group.
- Job Aids
Job aids are important for new users in a new system. I believe that systems should always be user-friendly and intuitive, but that isn’t always the case, and each user will have a different competency level with the technology. Providing a few different types of job aids will help users at all levels understand how to use the new system and provide user and trouble shooting instructions. Screenshots and step-by-step instructions are a must for job aids to be used successfully. A few types I highly recommend for new systems include:
- Comprehensive job aid, almost like a user manual, with detailed instructions
- Quick hit job aids that provide instructions for the top 1 – 3 ways users will use the system
- Definitions job aid that provides users with information on what different aspects of the system mean, such as explaining different categories or menu options
- Additional Support
Every system roll-out that I can remember has always required some additional support from the system manager. Whether it is due to user error, a user who isn’t reading the job aids or other communications that have been sent out, or a system issue, it’s good to have one or more individuals who are system experts who can walk users through their questions or challenges with the system, and who can softly remind users of the other tools available.
Launching a new system can seem like a daunting task, but with the right structure and planning, it can be a smooth transition for the system team and for the users.
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