Change can be difficult, especially for well-established companies. When the change involves new software, it can be more challenging or even met with resistance. This leaves many companies behind the curve, unable to embrace the very tools that they need to grow and compete.

If you search for advice on how to implement new software, you’ll often find overly complex rollout plans that are more suited to large organizations. These plans include steps and measures that are not necessary or applicable for small to mid-sized businesses. This means many companies are left to figure it out by themselves, leading to frustrating or costly mistakes.

Fortunately, most of the time you can implement software by following a simple rollout strategy.  The following tips will help you create a simple software implementation plan that fits your company’s unique needs.

What, why and how?

People will undoubtedly have questions when you announce that you’re making any type of change. You can reduce resistance and get people excited by answering these questions upfront. In fact, your team will get on board far quicker if you answer “what, why and how” at the same time you introduce the change

What – What problem are you fixing? Be sure you can sum up the problem in a simple statement. You can win or lose support if you don’t make the problem clear and easy to understand.

Why – Why does it need to be fixed? This is where you show the impact of the problem and the benefits of fixing it through your proposed change.

How – How will you roll out the change? If the new software impacts existing processes, make a flowchart or visual that describes the change. Be sure to identify who will oversee the installation, discuss how training will be handled and offer a timeline. For leadership, include detailed information on how much it will cost.

Keep in mind, not everyone in your organization will respond in the same way. Some people will be champions of change, eager to embrace innovation and excited to try something new. Others will be early adopters that get on board with just a little convincing. You will also see late adopters that struggle with change and resist anything new. Knowing the attitudes of those in your organization should guide how you answer these questions, so consider the makeup of your team as you create your plan.

Introducing change

In small to mid-sized companies, problems and solutions are often identified by internal experts and department leaders. Software solutions are no different, but sometimes outside experts are needed. This is especially true for companies that don’t have internal technical support.

Once a software solution has been identified however, you can use the following path to roll it out to your organization:

  1. Identify your ‘change team’:  You’ll need a small group of champions that embrace change for a successful rollout. When possible, include your technical expert and at least one member of leadership.

  2. Introduce the solution to leadership: Your change team should present the solution to key decision makers. Be sure to include detailed information regarding what the problem is, why it needs to be solved and how you propose to solve it. You need to include the cost, a practical timeline and information on how training will be handled.

  3. Introduce the solution to the organization: When you introduce the solution to the organization as a whole, focus on the benefits of making the change. Include practical information on how it will impact their daily work and offer a timeline. Make sure to offer details on training so everyone knows they’ll be well prepared for what’s to come.  

  4. Offer training/guidance where applicable: Make training a priority so that your entire organization feels confident about the transition. This should happen before the software is implemented, allowing everyone time to ask questions and get answers.

  5. Roll out the software: Even if you’ve sent out a timeline, send out a reminder before the official launch date. Make sure your change team is standing by and ready to answer questions and solve problems. You should document any issues that arise so that future roll outs go even more smooth.

Remember, how you handle change today impacts how your organization views change in the future. By creating a plan that’s designed to fit the unique dynamics of your company, you’ll ensure a smoother transition. In turn this will help your company become more flexible and embrace future changes.

The material presented here is educational in nature and is not intended to be, nor should be relied upon, as legal or financial advice. Please consult with an attorney or financial professional for advice.