October 17, 2016 Robb Carmichael

Navigating Change Critical to Software Success

Every new piece of software or upgraded application is launched with the best of intentions; whether that’s improving efficiency, boosting productivity, enabling mobility and remote access or streamlining internal processes.

And, every one of these initiatives, despite the good intentions from management or IT, will fail without taking the time to address this one seemingly simple thing – a plan to handle change.


Can’t see the forest for the trees

Let’s face it, we are all creatures of habit, and our employees get comfortable with the way they do things. Even if the new or upgraded software will make their job easier, mark my words, you will face internal resistance to the move to a new platform, application or even a simple upgrade that changes the interface.

Staff will complain about the new layout or the fact they now have to go about entering information differently … even if you are saving them valuable time or steps.

When we are working with clients on a new custom software development project, or even a software upgrade, one of the biggest challenges we face relates to the issue of change.

 

5 keys to handling change more effectively

There are five areas which are commonly identified as the keys to the success or failure of an implementation.

  1. Planning: Having a clearly identified vision and goal, supported by a well-defined plan for implementation, will keep the process running smoothly.
  2. Dedicated resources: Involving adequate staff, project management expertise and users in the project at all stages can help ensure the successful roll-out.
  3. Support from the top. Software might seem like an IT project but technology is a strategic business enabler. Without senior management, implementers lack the teeth to get the project done. In fact, 33% of projects fail because of a lack of involvement from senior management so it’s important to keep senior levels involved and engaged in the process.
  4. Easing fears. Few people enjoy change and this is certainly true when it comes to software. People get used to how they do things and believe that doing it differently will be worse not better. Helping staff understand the reasons for change and how the new solution will make their jobs easier can help build acceptance.
  5. Breaking through resistance. Despite the pervasive nature of technology, people still resist (and even fear) new or different technology, preferring to work with the tried and true. Providing training and support during the transition can help to reduce resistance.

 

The difference between success and failure

We were working with a health care client a little while ago who desperately needed to update software that was an integral part of their operation.

They’d tried to do the update internally but the attempt failed when the users refused to use the updated software, which featured a dramatically different user interface.  They asked us to come in to help.

We took a phased approach to the transition and took baby steps when moving users over to the new platform to reduce internal resistance and established the appropriate back-end infrastructure needed to support the migration. We also helped them manage the change with the internal stakeholders and provided extensive training and internal support.

We succeeded in making the transition where they had failed in the past, in part, because we had a clearly defined migration plan and we helped the client manage the change.

 

Seamless transitions are possible

Adopting new technology doesn’t have to be an uphill battle if you take steps to improve your odds of success.

Be clear. Define your objectives, the reasons you’re making a change and how that fits with your overall business strategy. Take time up front to consider everything you need or want the software, system or solution to do.

Communicate. It goes without saying that people can’t read minds (yet) so you need to make sure you are communicating clearly and regularly throughout the process to keep all parties on the same page, both internally but also with your development team.

Democracy is great but … every project needs a leader and someone who will ultimately make final decisions. You’ve likely heard the expression “what’s a camel … a horse drawn by committee”, well the same expression could be applied to software development:  Too many divergent opinions or trying to ensure everyone’s views are incorporated can result in projects taking on an unintended shape. Someone needs to keep the project focused and on track.

Prepare for change. Staff, users and in some cases customers need to be helped through a major change.  Take the time to provide support for the change ahead and ensure adequate resources are in place to help ease the transition.

 

Don’t settle for a one-size-fits-all approach to your software needs. We know that every client and project is unique so we adapt our best-in-class processes to your specific and unique requirements. Are you ready? Let us help you prepare for your success. Contact us today and let’s get started.