It’s basic human psychology. Learning something new can be daunting and difficult to manage.
Finally taking that coding class? Scary. Learning Czech? Yikes.
If you’re a leader trying to implement a global software platform for your company, it can be difficult to ensure adoption. On the flip side, if you’re told to use a myriad of platforms placed in front of you, you might balk at the idea and think, but I don’t have the time!
As Director of Customer Success, onboarding and training is a large component of my day. From rolling out Kapost’s platform to hundreds of marketers around the world, to starting with one division then implementing it globally, I’ve seen all sides of this scenario.
And no matter the circumstance, change management and adoption plague many of us with fear.
In the marketing ecosystem, there’s a variety of new platforms and tools popping up to make your job easier. Technology now plays a front-and-center role for businesses.
Forrester’s Sheryl Pattek emphasizes the importance of technology purchases for business organizations:
“For CMOs, staying current on technology and understanding how to incorporate tech into your strategy is becoming more and more complex. You must have a defined way to investigate and incorporate the right technology into your go-to-market strategy.”
This post outlines a general workflow that we use for software rollouts. The goal? To help you prepare for a seamless adoption of new processes, technologies, and strategies.
Just like any new beginning, the tone from the start is key.
Step 1: Executive Sponsorship Mandate
There’s always a high-level leader for purchase and implementation. Usually, they’re the one signing the deal or pushing for their team. She or he is the one with the budget and the initiative to drive this forward. They likely won’t be using the software day-to-day, but it’s important this person remembers their influence and uses it wisely.
This person needs to set the stage for your team, discuss the benefits this software will bring them, and set goals and quick wins. Ensure those quick wins and goals are communicated to the software company’s account management or customer success team. It’s beneficial for both parties. This ensures that everyone is working toward the same goals and holding that software accountable.
If there is weak executive alignment, a software rollout often fails. Starting at the top is key.
Step 2: What’s in It for Me? Engaging Employees on the “Why”
If you talk about the “why” to your employees, you’ll see that lightbulb switch on. Better than anyone, they understand the pain they experience daily, and if this technology promises to help alleviate that pain, it provides context for the transition.
“It is important to remember that employee adoption has a very visceral element because your employees are only going to be excited about the new system if it’s worth getting excited about. They want to see results that also make their day-to-day workload easier. This isn’t accomplished with every solution out there so selection is critical.” –Chris Morrison, COO of TradeStone Software
Typically, people like to support something they’re involved in. Ensuring they’re brought into the process at all stages encourages participation.
Another point here worth mentioning: Not all software solutions require this, but many systems out there have a system admin, operations specialist, or leader of the software instance. This is the person who knows the ins and outs of the system, serves as the point person for their team, and can adjust settings or details if needed. It’s worth considering having someone “own” the software. Check with your technology vendor for guidance on this, if it is necessary.
Step 3: Don’t Boil the Ocean
Once executive alignment has been made and everyone is on the same page, it’s beneficial to start with a single division or subset of a team. This helps you uncover challenges and also meet those quick wins early on. Then, when implementing new processes globally, you can showcase how it has been done in this smaller subset, and the ramped-up team can set a positive tone and support the rest of the rollouts.
For example, one global company I worked with decided to implement Kapost in one of their main regional business units. For 3-4 months, we did our rollout, training, and troubleshooting in case there was anything that needed to be addressed up front. Then, once everything was set up and working smoothly, they began to roll out to the rest of the global business units. This gave them a reference point and benchmark, and the rest of the global team members knew it was already working.
Step 4: Create Assignments and Track Accountability
Next you’re going to want to start the trainings and track who is using the software—and who isn’t.
You can’t just assume everyone is doing their part. Some platforms have tools that help you track how often someone has logged in or when they last logged in. Your project leader should be responsible in the beginning launch months to track usage and concerns, while also working in partnership with your customer success representative or account manager.
Remind your team that those quick wins can’t happen unless everyone is doing their part. This also ties into executive alignment. If necessary, they can step back in as the guiding voice reminding the team of the “why.”
Remember there is often pain in implementation, configuration, and integrations, but it’s typically only in the beginning. Remind your team that adopting will make their lives easier (go back to those first quick wins). Remember to use the software to build standards or processes that can be repeated, as other teams roll out.
“Most of the barriers for fast and effective technology adoption are human-related rather than technological. This is where change management comes in to accelerate the adoption process, along with organizational transformation. Recent academic research shows that it’s not the technology by itself that guides organizational success. Rather, the integration of the technology and the human system is what makes all of the difference. Failure to implement organizational change management processes with technology transformations is the most significant contributor to poor employee adoption and delayed business results.” -Pricing Leadership, The B2B Pricing & Sales Blog
Step 5: The Feedback Loop: Ensuring Success through Progress and Analytics
This is a key final step. Adoption runs a greater risk of failure if there’s no way to measure success. You need to continually look back at quick wins and challenges you were looking to overcome. Were they achieved? Measure this carefully.
Look at what could have been improved upon, too. It’s rarely a perfect process. Have a reflection meeting not only with your customer success person or account manager, but with the key leaders and executive team that started it all. It’s also important to ensure employees are happy and satisfied with the new software. If it’s a large team, use a surveying tool or gather team leaders to share how things are going. This is particularly relevant if you’re planning on rolling out to other divisions or groups.
Software is constantly changing and evolving, and if you can’t track KPIs or know exactly how new technologies benefit you, then you won’t know if it’s worth the ongoing investment.
If you seek to follow these guiding principles, it sets you up to be on the right track to adoption and a successful rollout of a technology software to help your process and team achieve greatness. Best of luck!