Buying new business software? Here's how to roll it out successfully
In a recent article, we talked about how some companies are so fixated on feature lists that they’re not considering the bigger picture when buying software. Part of that bigger picture is adoption.
Let’s say you’ve found a new field management platform that ticks every one of your requirements. Great. But have you considered the operational impact on staff? Will this new all-singing-all-dancing software actually make their job easier? It might sound obvious, but you’d be surprised by how often considerations such as these are overlooked or ignored.
Introducing new technology
Introducing new technology into your organisation can make your workforce more productive, efficient, better informed and protected. But while the rewards are plentiful, so often technology rollouts are laden with issues around adoption.
Let’s look at the basic components of a technology rollout. First, there’s the software itself, which is usually some kind of app or platform. Then there’s the hardware that the software needs to run on. This hardware often takes the form of a smartphone, laptop, tablet or similar device. Finally, there’s the adoption of the software in the real world.
This last step can make-or-break the success of the app or platform, so it’s vital that both tech providers and business leaders give it the attention it deserves. Adoption should be considered a crucial part of the planning process.
Segmentation: understanding the end-user
If you want the adoption process to go as smoothly as possible, you’ll need to look closely at the people who will be using the technology on a day-to-day basis. What types of characters are they? How well do they respond to change? Are they willing to embrace new technology? This is where employee segmentation comes in.
Many businesses, including one leading supermarket chain (and client of mpro5), have found that taking the time to learn more about their colleagues has made the rollout of our software far smoother than first anticipated. By gaining unique insights into employees’ attitudes and behaviours, they were able to understand how the new processes were being received and adapt their plans accordingly.
In the case of the supermarket, detailed colleague segmentation revealed that traditional training methods wouldn’t necessarily be the best form of education. Some employees preferred simply being shown how to use the app by a colleague, for instance, rather than a more structured training session.
Understanding your audience and delivering the best possible training is vital if you want to increase employee engagement and minimise push-back.
The roadblocks to adoption – and the solutions
I’ve already touched upon education, but what are the other main problems that hamper technology adoption? And, more importantly, how can software providers and businesses work together to tackle these issues?
A lack of understanding and operational impact
I often find there’s a disconnect between what bosses think happens in the field, and what actually happens. It’s easy for this to occur, but if leaders don’t fully understand what the user’s day entails, how can they assess the operational impact of the software on their day-to-day job? Are their asks and expectations even realistic?
Any new software needs to be frictionless if it’s to be successful – it’s no good having a state-of-the-art system if it’s actually making an employee’s day harder. Unfortunately, this realisation often comes too late. In many cases, the software is implemented without any dialogue or consideration and the groans of disgruntled employees can be heard emanating from the staff canteen.
That’s why decision makers must take the time to get to know what really goes on and ask for employees’ input before rolling out any new technology. No one wants to make it harder for their teams to get the job done.
Lack of trust in the hardware
Many of us have been there. We’ve been promised an exciting new bit of software that’s going to revolutionise our day, only to be let down by a cheap piece of hardware. A tablet that keeps crashing. A smartphone with low memory. Sometimes the new software hasn’t even been tested with the hardware at all.
Unfortunately, business leaders are often guided by price rather than functionality when buying new kit, which can create issues when it comes to adoption. The takeaway? Don’t skimp on the hardware!
The Big Brother perception
In some cases, employees are reluctant to adopt new technology due to the Big Brother effect. There’s often a perception that systems are there to spy on them or monitor their performance, so it’s important that employees understand the bigger picture. This change is about processes rather than people. No, Big Brother isn’t watching you, he’s just making sure the business isn’t fined or that someone doesn’t end up in serious legal trouble because a vital check was missed.
And be sure to remind users of the benefits that come with new technology. Not only will it make their day easier, but it should also provide better accountability. With actions time-stamped and data stored in the cloud, there’s no reason for disputes over missing paper logbook entries, for instance, or question marks over which team member completed a particular task. Of course, better accountability is all well and good as long as the employee has nothing to hide!
A smooth rollout
It's clear that adoption is an essential part of the planning process when buying software. By understanding the end-user, identifying the most suitable training methods and investing in the right equipment, business leaders can help to make technology rollouts that much smoother.
Technology is there to make our lives easier and should be a benefit to us all, so if you’re taking the plunge, do your homework and make it count.