For business owners, upgrading or changing software systems is usually an opportunity to upgrade or change the business itself. A chance to try something different, make things easier or more efficient, or give a fresh interface for employees. However, if not implemented carefully, such changes can turn into costly, time-consuming nightmares, due to the various difficulties involved. For this reason, change management is a critical step when implementing any new software in a business.

2015_OCT_ALL_TECHNOLOGY - The Importance of Change Management When Introducing New Software

Put simply, change management is making and executing a plan to implement a change in your business, with a specific focus on helping employees to adjust. It involves using strategic planning, communications and employee engagement to facilitate the transition between current-state and future-state business processes. When the change is software-related, change management will involve recognizing the changes the software will have on the broader business environment, finding the necessary adjustments for your company’s needs, training your employees on how to use the software, and getting the backing of your employees with the appropriate adjustments that you make.

One reason change management is so important is that employee resistance to new software is fairly common in all types of organizations. This is because for many employees, new software means taking the time to learn a new skill, moving away from a system that was comfortable, or a general uneasiness due to the uncertainty of a new system. Because of this common phenomenon, there will typically be employees who are slow to adopt and utilize new software, and others who reject using it altogether. If the proportion of these employees in your business is large and not managed, it could lead to the software being not fully utilized, or even rejected by your staff. As a manager, you would then have the unenviable choice or having to scrap the change altogether, or go to expensive or time-consuming efforts to get employees onboard. This scenario can be avoided by implementing a carefully prepared change management plan, preferably one that involves staff right from the time the change is first proposed, to allow them to have input and allow you to attempt address their concerns.

Another reason why change management is vital is that, even if employees accept the new software, there can be substantial “growing pains”. This can occur because the software changes typically change work processes, meaning employees need to change the way they do things, perhaps quite substantially. Therefore there will naturally be some difficulty adjusting to this.

Some symptoms of these “growing pains” are dissatisfied customers, unnecessary rework, higher costs, and downtime in production. The best way to counter such problems is to have a comprehensive plan that involves a lot of communication with employees, including gaining their feedback on how they are finding the change. A successful plan will follow through with post-implementation activities such as training, help-desk support, and end user documentation, to help maintain competent users and minimize any disruptions.

If your organization is considering bringing in new software, make sure you have a comprehensive change management plan in place. There is no point spending large amounts of time and money on the change itself if you fail to work out how you will implement it, including dealing with any resistance that may occur. With a detailed strategy and a willingness to follow through on it, you can start to enjoy the benefits the new software has on your operations.

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