Building a new piece of custom software for your business is a huge undertaking. By the time you’re ready to deploy the software, you have already invested thousands of dollars and hours into getting it right. But, even the best custom software can cause friction in an organization when it’s time to deploy the software and start using it. Without effective change management, poorly-executed software implementations can result in disgruntled employees, lower efficiency, and increased costs.
However, effective change management can help maximize the potential of the new technology. It does that by ensuring that stakeholders and users understand, accept, and positively adapt to the changes.
What is change management?
Change management means managing the transition from an existing system (or no system at all) to the new software. It involves planning, communicating, training, and other activities to ensure a successful transition. Change management helps ensure successful implementation of the new software and that employees can adapt to the new system quickly.
Change management involves several different activities:
- Developing a plan. Before implementing new software, it’s important to develop a plan outlining how the transition will occur. This plan should include the steps needed, the timeline for the transition, and the needed resources.
- Communicating the plan. Once you’ve developed the plan, it’s important to communicate it to all stakeholders. This communication should include the timeline for the transition, the resources needed, and any changes that need to be made to processes or systems.
- Training. It’s important to train all employees on the new software and make sure they’re familiar with the changes. Training should include technical training, such as how to use the new software, and training covering how to use the new processes the company is about to implement. Make sure to budget adequate time for training, and provide training that is accessible to users with various learning styles. Don’t forget to provide clear and concise documentation and easy access to help and support from colleagues or consultants who know the system well.
- Monitoring. It is important to monitor the transition to ensure it’s going smoothly and that employees are adapting to the new system. This monitoring can include surveys, interviews, user research/usability testing, and other feedback mechanisms to ensure that the transition is successful.
- Supporting. Provide support to employees during the transition. This can include training, resources, feedback, and advice. Consider how to create champions within the organization. They’ll be advocates for the new software and processes who can encourage colleagues who might not be as open to the new processes.
What are the challenges of change management during software transitions?
Change management involves complex business processes and real human emotions. Common blockers include:
- Resistance to change. People are often resistant to change, even when a new tool can help them save time or do their work better. Moving from a tool or process we know well (even if it’s broken) to a new system that we don’t know and don’t trust is uncomfortable and disruptive. It is important to understand why people are resisting and to provide support to help them adapt to the new system. Often, the support needed will be unique to the individual, their work, their motivations, and their worries.
- Lack of resources. Change management can require extra resources, such as money, time, and personnel. If these resources are not available, it can be difficult to manage the transition successfully. When you’ve spent so much time and money on building software, there is a risk of wanting to rush through and undercapitalize the deployment process. After all, you’ve worked hard on it, so it must be great! However, you can sabotage your whole effort by not allocating the time and resources necessary for the organization to adapt to the new software.
- Poor communication. It’s vital to communicate the plan and any changes that will occur to all stakeholders. This is an easy area to screw up. If this communication is not effective, it can lead to confusion and resistance to the change. Creating a communication plan and previewing it with a few trusted employees can help de-risk this area. The key to success? Sharing information at many times, in many formats, and with opportunities for employees to digest the information and come back later with questions.
The Importance of Change Management
Effective change management is necessary to ensure the successful implementation of new software. This includes communicating the plan, providing training, monitoring the transition, addressing resistance to change, and providing support. Following these recommendations can help organizations ensure that the transition is successful. Then, their business can flourish and expand with the help of their new custom software.