We see it all the time with new customers – a creative director sees what WorkflowMax can do and gets so excited. "Look at how much time we'll save!" he says. "We can get rid of our old, clunky system for quoting and invoicing, and our spreadsheets for timetracking, and do it all on one system."
But when he takes the software back to his creative team, there are collective groans and mumbles. No one is excited about the possibilities – all he hears are moans of, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," and "I can't believe they're expecting us to completely change our systems. They are the way they are for a reason."
Embracing new technology can be a slow process, especially if staff are resistant. Getting your team excited about new technology from the onset can be a great way of combating this natural desire to avoid having to learn something new. Here are our top 6 tips for helping employees embrace new technology.
Tip #1: Give Your Software a Name
One great way to help your creative team generate some enthusiasm for implementing new software, is to give that software a name. A name instantly conveys a personality – giving the sense that the new software is just another body in the office helping your company to grow and succeed.
Many companies use an anagram – for example, WES (for Workflow Software) or WALTER (Workflow, Also Leads Timesheeting Reporting). We've even heard of a couple of our clients calling our software "Max"! As a creative, I'm sure you'll think of something clever.
Having a name for new software instantly helps people feel more comfortable "getting to know" it.
Tip #2: Identify and Encourage Early Adopters
With any new software or technology, there are always a few people ahead of the game. These are the users who can instantly see the benefit of the new tools, and who will attend all the trainings and ensure they understand all the features.
Identify these power users early and engage them. Get them together into a working group to help with implementation, offer feedback and suggestions, and create ideas to promote tool use to the rest of the company. Ensure they are the first to gain access to new technology when it's rolled out, so that they can get familiar with all the features before they have to help their less-techno-savvy colleagues.
Tip #3: Future proof your system with Accessibility
A key reason people often struggle with new technology – and this is over overlooked by employers – is that it is a struggle to access the information in a format they can understand. Accessibility of technology is a complex issue, but one of the areas where it is most commonly a problem is when you have staff with disabilities. If staff feel as if their needs haven't been considered, they will instantly be resistant to new software, even if it's perfectly accessible.
Your software needs to be accessible to all users. This includes users with disabilities – blind, deaf, motor-impaired, dyslexic, and other conditions. Even if you don’t have anyone with a disability working at your company, you might in the future. Or your clients might be required to access the software – such as clients signing off on work – and you'll need to ensure it functions in a way that makes it accessible.
Anyone potentially affected by the accessibility of a new technology should be involved in the process from the beginning, testing the software against their specific needs. Engage these team members as early in the process as possible. Allow them the chance to add input into what works, and what doesn't and turn their resistance into excitement through your engagement.
Tip #4: Lead by Example
You’re never going to get buy in from the whole organisation if different rules apply to upper management. If you want a tool to become part of your firm’s everyday life, then you better start using it and learning its features. Work with key stakeholders early on to ensure they grasp the use of the system, as support for and uptake of new technology should spread out from them.
Tip #5: Solicit Feedback in the Early Stages
As you rollout the system to more and more users, make sure there is a simple and structured way for them to provide feedback. A survey sent out to every user can generate some quick results (people are usually pretty vocal in a survey if something isn’t working!) You might also use a focus group with representatives from a range of different roles and departments, who can discuss issues and collect solutions to distribute to the rest of the company. This group can also be in charge of documenting troubleshooting and processes around the new technology.
Often, it’s not enough to simply say, “feedback welcome”. You have to proactively seek out feedback and provide resources for your team to provide it anonymously without fear of losing their job over a bad opinion.
Tip #6 Take Quick and Decisive Action
From the feedback you receive you can probably draw out 1-2 points that need to be improved. Now, it’s time for action. What are the biggest user issues? How can you solve them moving forward?
For example, perhaps the biggest issue your team faced was that not enough staff felt comfortable with the technology in the first place to understand the changes that were happening. Additional basic training and feedback seminars might help ease this issue. You can even empower your early adaptors to lead these initiatives.
Perhaps a simple “Tip of the Week” in a staff newsletter or regular meeting might help everyone get up to the same level and discover different ways of doing things. Get your team together and brainstorm some solutions!
If your agency or practice is looking to embrace a new software program, it's important to remember – good things take time. It will take your team more time than you realise to embrace a new system, and many users will resist change, wanting to stick with the status quo. But by engaging with and seeking feedback from users from the onset, you'll find the process will run much more smoothly.
What techniques have you used to improve technology adoption in your office?