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help employees adopt new technology

Posted July 19, 2017 by Dan Madigan

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Anyone who has ever worked through a botched, new technology roll-out knows that even the best thought-out plans can quickly turn disastrous, especially if employees do not adopt the new technology.

Judy in accounting does not like the new company CRM and her negativity poisons those 'around the water cooler' who would otherwise be open to the new system.

Joe in production flat out refuses to learn the new ERP application. By doing so, he reduces his productivity and that of those whose work relies on Joe's work.

Scenarios such as these ultimately derail new technology roll-outs. Avoiding negative outcomes like this depends on a company's ability to design, plan and implement the change. Here are five employee technology adoption strategies that will help:

1.) Choose your new technology carefully

The success or failure of your new program begins with the technology you’ve chosen, and why you have chosen it. Ensuring employee adoption begins well before  the training programs for rolling out a new solution.

Be prepared to answer the following questions when contemplating a new technology rollout:

  • What are the business benefits that the new technology provides? Certainly you would not implement a new tech tool if it did not offer something of value to your company. Take the time to quanitfy these benefits early on in the process. Create a business / technology road map. The map will demonstrate how your new technology will help your organization meet its business goals and will serve as a "sales pitch" to get your employees on board.
  • What employee pain points will the technology resolve? Convincing employees that new technology will make their lives better will speed up the rollout. Be sure to address pain points that the new technology will not resolve.
  • What resources will be required to roll out this project successfully? How will current productivity be affected during the changeover? Is there a cost for additional training or support resources? 
2.)  Identify all involved stakeholders

What we see too often are organizations that take only a high-level look at key stakeholders while missing the full impact on other users.

The only way to truly know who needs to be involved in a new technology adoption plan is to talk to people. Do not assume anything. Ask every department and thoroughly document the specific ways they use the tool you are thinking about replacing before making any final decisions.

3.) Create your implementation plan

Once you have decided on a new piece of technology, use the information you’ve gathered about organizational benefits, pain points and involved stakeholders to create a roll-out plan. Depending on the technology you have chosen your plan should involve any or all of the following elements:

  • Specific dates – When will your new technology be ready for implementation? When will users switch over fully to the new solution? How will you determine if all underlying processes are in place? When do you decommission your current tool?
  • Implementation tiers – Will you roll out your new technology to all users at once? Does it make more sense to onboard specific departments individually? How will new technology affect existing business processes?
  • Training – What types of training will you need? Will certain departments or groups require more training than others? Will department managers be trained with the new technology before their associates begin training?
  • Management of expectations – Consider the technology adoption cycle: not everyone will adopt at the same rate. There will be early adopters - your “champions”. Identify “champions” within your organization who can act as cheerleaders and assist others with adopting the new technology. Ensure that your expectations for adoption are realistic given the diversity of your workforce. How will you deal with associates that refuse to embrace the new technology? Eric Savitz, writing for Forbes offers the following suggestion: 

"Deploy your solution in phases, and start with the people or departments you know are most likely to adopt and succeed with the software. Select people who are visible and carry influence inside the organization and, before you go broad, pour all your resources into making these early adopters wildly successful. They will be your references and internal case studies when you move forward to subsequent phases of deployment.”

  • Roadmap - Ultimately, the goal of your implementation plan should be to have a general roadmap for the who, what, where, why and how of your installation. Remain flexible, and listen to your employees’ feedback. Do not be afraid to alter course depending on what your employees are telling you they need.
4.) Training – Make it fun

Most people, when they get the latest smartphone, tablet, computer or TV, are genuinely excited to learn how to best use their new technology. Training should not be a burden. Craft a training program that is a fun challenge – not a hardship. While you may not be able to get your employees as excited about a new ERP or CRM as they would be about a new iPhone or tablet, it is, however, the kind of feeling you should strive for! Here are several things you can do to help this happen:

  • Make it fun – Host a 'lunch and learn' or a pizza party rather than a PowerPoint presentation. Create a “new technology scavenger hunt” or bingo-style game to get people invested.
  • Opportunity for team building – Demonstrate that senior management is implementing the solution to make everyone’s job easier and that everyone is pulling in the same direction.
  • Offer incentives – Show employees that you value their efforts to learn your new technology. When departments hit adoption milestones, acknowledge their efforts publicly with a company-wide memo or other award, such as gift cards, departmental lunch, company swag or other perks.
5.) Follow-up appropriately

Finally, recognize that a roll-out is never really “done” even after your employees have switched over fully to the new technology.

“A final step for the successful introduction of new technology into an organization is to perform an evaluation of its performance once installed. There may be actual problems with the way the technology works, or there may be perceived problems for some users. An evaluation identifies both types of problems.”

Evaluate your implementation success at various intervals as you go forward. Follow up directly after launch to identify users who are struggling or had training that was insufficient. Follow up again at a later date to uncover problems that might be occurring infrequently.

Remember:  Encourage feedback from employees and prove that you are willing to act on their suggestions. 

The experts at Four Winds Network Services can help you create your own Business / Technology Road Map and help you Plan, Design and Implement your next technology roll out.

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