If there is one thing I’ve learned, it is that employees have way too much information that lives solely in their heads. I learned this when I went through my first software implementation of Oracle almost eight years ago when I worked in higher education. I thought it was a fluke, but now I am in software. I can tell you, all my hopes and dreams of that being a fluke were broken. When I went to ask for workflows before deciding to implement new software, people would freeze.
It’s not that they don’t have workflows. It is just not on paper. There are no Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), no standard format, no training materials. Then, we wonder why it takes us so long to get new employees up to speed and why implementations always get delayed!
Here is one solution. It is definitely easier said than done but it is also easier done than thought. I call it verbal vomit. Employees need to take everything in their head and literally put it in writing. It isn’t fun, but it is necessary. To be honest, it is actually a great exercise to do because employees often realize that processes are more complicated than they need to be or sometimes. All of a sudden, they realize they have been doing something inefficient for months, even years. It is ridiculous how much knowledge walks right out of the doors of organizations every time an employee leaves. Verbal vomiting should be an ongoing process so that a team is always ready to implement change, software or otherwise.
1. People Vs. Machine.
Before making any software selection, you need to answer this question. Do you need better software or better people? Do a thorough audit of what your needs are to make sure that what you need could not possibly be handled efficiently by a person. Now, fine-tune your software choices to only those that can help solve your issues. Don’t let software sales people take your eye off of the problem you are trying to solve.
2. Rally the troops.
Does your team like the software you chose? If they hate it, they will make sure your choice doesn’t work just to spite you. Like a toddler refusing to put their church clothes on, they will just refuse and if that doesn’t work, throw themselves on the floor kicking and screaming. Change can be hard on people so make certain to hear what problems they need to have solved. Make sure they feel involved. Or brace yourself for the potential backlash.
3. Let them try before you buy.
We know that if you listen to your team’s needs, they will feel better. Let them test the product to see if it meets their needs. These people know the most about what is necessary to get their jobs done and what might get in the way of them achieving their goals. Encourage them to share their thoughts and ideas during the process.
4. Train users on an ongoing basis.
Your job does not end once the product goes live. Of course, pre-implementation training is vital to helping you work out the kinks, get processes nailed down and ensure all users are up to speed. But remember, continual training will keep everything working smoothly in the long run. The more users play with their new tool, they will undoubtedly find more “kinks” in it. Keep training them on how to use it to avoid a loss in productivity or buyers remorse.
If you are still reading, you may have realized; this is not a fast process. And yes, it can be painful. But not as painful as spending thousands of dollars on a product your team doesn’t use.
About our Author: Lotus Yon is an HR and leadership fanatic who geeks out when talking about the future of the workplace. She is an experienced HR leader, mostly in the healthcare industry, and writes a blog called OD Advocate. She has also been featured on Ragan Communications, HealthcareSource, Allen Communication and YouTern. Lotus is passionate about disrupting the industry and helping HR professionals think differently about their work and its impact on the greater good of their organizations.