In Any Software Implementation, Time is Money!
Last year, you made a proposal to your senior management to invest in a software application that you believed would provide your sales team the horsepower to take them to the next level. Your proposal was unanimously and enthusiastically approved and you were told to "run with it."
Working with your IT and sales teams, you proceeded on implementation of the application. There were a few bumps in the road but your team appeared to embrace the application at your on-line kick-off session. A few of them were quiet but were the ones who were typically reserved.
After several months, the application's usage statistics looked promising but there were some laggards. You drilled down on the stats and found it was the ones who were quiet during your kick-off presentation. You then followed up with each and identified their obstacles. Some had clear cases of "application anxiety" while others were "reluctant adopters" who got by with the absolute minimum by just "going through the motions" by logging on sporadically and infrequently.
You had your IT people follow up with the "application anxiety" crowd to address their issues, which were largely technical. You got together with the "reluctant adopters," explaining how their consistent usage of the app would make them more productive and, at the end of the day, they'd have more money in their pocket. You also emphasized how the application wasn't a "make-work" project or a management control mechanism to "spy on them." You'd heard those stories through the grapevine.
Because of the laggards, your ramp-up and full implementation of the application was delayed by a full quarter and the project exceeded budget, which raised some eyebrows in your management ranks.
Does any of this sound familiar? If so, here are some steps to take early on to avoid the laggards from dragging down your implementation:
- Establish and publish enterprise-wide acceptable usage standards and eliminate any "loopholes" which enable non-participation.
- Embed application usage within your sales team's job description along with appropriate notification/acknowledgement. This sends a clear message of "What's expected will be inspected."
- Include usage as a measurable performance expectation in the performance appraisals including inclusion in all of your formal written policies.
- Engage users consistently during the early phase of your implementation and listen carefully for any negativity or poor attitudes. If encountered, isolate and address them immediately. If you don't, your project goals will be stalled and delayed.
- Identify and circulate user "success stories" frequently throughout the initial implementation; the more the better.
- Draft a sales automation policy defining the standards and expectations for application usage and stress how that usage is mandatory, not optional.
Remember it's all about EXPECTATIONS and ACCOUNTABILITY. As a manager, it's up to you to clearly communicate consequences for lapses in adapting to any new application.
Photo credit: Pink Chick