In a modern workplace, so much of what employees do relies on software. And while there are plenty of programs like Microsoft Office that are more or less ubiquitous and widely used by virtually everyone, there are many other functions for which there are multiple options for software providers.
In these situations, there is occasionally a need to change providers for one reason or another: cost, performance, etc. This is not always an easy undertaking.
Employees can get very attached to certain platforms and most people are generally averse to change. But when the need arises, and you’ve made the decision to switch providers, how can you go about making the transition as smooth and painless as possible?
Let your employees know as soon as possible that change is coming, and let them know the reasons. You probably aren’t making a change just to make a change. Be upfront with your employees about why you are switching vendors, and, if possible, include them in the decision-making process beforehand.
Explain the Benefits of the New Program
There are likely going to be things your employees will miss about their legacy systems. But, hopefully, there will also be benefits associated with the new system as well. Those benefits might relate to making their jobs easier, allowing them to be more productive or increasing functionality. Be sure to communicate those benefits as much as possible—once is not enough!
TJ Coyle, writing for Training Industry, refers to this as marketing. “Leaders decided that the new software would be beneficial to the organization, so share that story with employees,” Coyle recommends. “Marketing becomes even more crucial when it’s not just an upgrade but a switch to a completely new system.”
Take Advantage of Vendor Training
Many software vendors offer free training to help end users get acquainted with new tools. Take full advantage of these opportunities. It can also be helpful to spend extra time training a designated counterpart, or super-user, who can be paired with the vendor. A super-user inside your organization can be invaluable in helping to train other employees and in troubleshooting any issues that may arise.
Keep Open Channels of Communication
Once you have your new system in place, be sure to leave the lines of communication open so employees can express any concerns (i.e., complaints) with the new system that they may have. “Feedback helps you gauge user acceptance for the newly introduced software system,” says Ashok Kumar writing for CommLab India. “This will also help make necessary improvements in your training program.” Be patient and try to resolve or explain away these issues as much as you can. And, if possible, stay in touch with a vendor representative, if one is provided. Whatever the complaint or concern, it’s likely the vendor has dealt with it before.
Change in any context can be a painful experience for employees. When it comes to your employees transitioning to a new software platform, it can be particularly stressful and challenging. But, by following the tips and strategies above, you can ease the stress of this transition and help your employees get back to productive work.