According to an MIT study, 78% of executives believe upgrading their systems is critical for their organization’s ability to maintain a competitive advantage. Yet, 63% also said their organizations are slow to adopt new technology. Part of the reason they hesitate is that, though new technology is capable of producing huge gains, many companies don’t realize the full benefits due to poor implementation.
One of the main reasons why companies fail is a lack of planning. You can’t just expect employees to take on the challenge of integrating a new tool into their workflow; you have to first provide proper training and messaging. Luckily, doing so is much easier than you think.
Here are five strategies to help you successfully implement new technology in your workplace:
- Invite Employees to Participate in the Decision Process
- Solve Employee Pain Points
- Roll Out Implementation Based on the Natural Diffusion of Innovation
- Leverage Your Account Manager
- Use You Software's Training Tools
Let's dive in.
1. Invite Employees to Participate in the Decision Process
Adopting new software has a significant impact on how your employees work thus, you should consider their opinions. While the question of whether or not to purchase a new software may be non-negotiable, give your employees a say in what specific solution you are buying. Once you’ve narrowed down to your top two to three choices, email your team explaining why you’re interested in those options and invite anyone to research the tools and share their thoughts.
Most employees will ignore your email but, the ones who care will make a case for why they prefer one tool over the others. Their feedback can be instrumental in helping you choose the right tool for your team.
Plus, surveys find that employees who are involved in decision-making processes are more motivated, satisfied and engaged in their jobs. Giving them a say in the outcome transforms technology adoption from a disturbance that you force upon them to a collaborative effort to make the company more successful.
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2. Solve Employee Pain Points
How you describe new technology plays an influential role in employee attitudes toward it. You may have many metrics-driven reasons for the purchase; however, those alone are not enough to motivate your employees.
We make decisions with the same part of our brain that controls emotions so, to convince your employees to embrace a new tool, you need to excite them by explaining how it solves their pain points. For example, if you’re adopting a more advanced CRM and one of your sales team’s top challenges is predicting which prospects and campaigns are most likely to drive sales, then explain how the new CRM has analytics tools that will help them determine where to focus their efforts.
If you’re implementing software across multiple functional teams, change your message to reflect the specific benefits for each group.
3. Roll-out Implementation Based on the Natural Diffusion of Innovation
Humans naturally resist change, however, the extent that we do so varies. The Diffusion of Innovation curve explains that people’s willingness to adopt innovative technology falls onto a bell curve that’s divided into five groups of people:
The percentage of your employees that fall into each of these groups may vary from the normal curve since your organization might attract people who are more or less open to change. However, you almost certainly have employees in all categories. Understanding the different perspectives on innovation helps you plan a smoother implementation.
Here are the five perspectives on new technology:
These employees are always asking for new technology and proposing new ways to complete work. Give them access to the software first so they can learn how to use it and be able to teach other employees about it.
Early adopters curiosity is piqued when they see the innovators using something new. They are the employees who show interest in your new systems but aren’t as eager or change-driving as innovators. If you have time, create a 1-2 week long focus group from these individuals. Their questions, challenges, and positive feedback can be used to improve how you release the new system to the entire team.
You’ll reach the early and late majority when you roll out the new technology to everyone involved. People in the early majority will quickly jump on board and work collaboratively to develop best practices.
People in this category will resist the implementation until they see proof that it works. They’ll likely have a lot of questions and some complaints early on. However, once they start realizing performance improvements, they’ll embrace the change.
These individuals will resist adopting new technology until you start punishing them for not using it. If possible, wait to force them to use it until you’ve worked through most of the errors because they tend to be vocal complainers when they run into issues.
Designing your implementation plan to cater to each of these groups will reduce the number of conflicts and resistance you face.
Most Saas and other technology companies assign you an account manager. Take advantage of them; they are experts in the technology and can speed up your adoption process by helping you overcome the learning curve.
Here are some questions you should ask your account manager:
- What are best practices for using this software?
- Do you have any tips to make it easier to train my team?
- How to do I do X?
- Are there any shortcuts that can help my team find information/produce reports/generate insights etc. faster?
- Can I share your email with my team so they can reach out to you with questions?
Ask as many questions as you need to feel 100% confident using the tool.
5. Use Your Software’s Training Tools
If teaching your employees how to use new software is daunting, chances are you don’t have to do it yourself. Many Saas and other technology providers like Salesforce, Hubspot, Microsoft, etc. have free training programs that walk people through how to use every aspect of the software. Identify which sections are most useful to each of your employee groups and have your employees complete them.
Though the training materials are great at explaining how to use the system, their assessments, if any, often aren’t strong enough to prove employee understanding. To ensure your team is learning the necessary skills, sync with them mid training to check their progress. After they complete it, give them an assignment that tests their ability to use it. For example, you might ask them to input data and run a few reports, use the analytics to generate actionable insights, or create a workflow to automate a process.
Still Struggling to Drive Adoption?
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About the Author: Emily formerly led Prialto's content production and distribution team with a special passion for helping people realize success. Her work and collaborations have appeared in Entrepreneur, Inc. and the Observer among others.