Embarking on a project to introduce new business technology can be daunting, but doesn’t have to be. SaaS technology has made it easier than ever to implement new solutions and has given brands the flexibility and agility needed in to survive in today’s fast-paced and highly competitive world.
According to a new study released recently by MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte Digital, a “significant number of employees and executives … are prepared to leave companies that are falling behind in their digital transformations.”
1. Identify needs
Embarking on any campaign without a plan or clear objectives is a recipe for disaster. Identifying what it is that the business needs from different solutions isn’t always easy and will require investment from all those involved.
Requirements should be gathered from all employees who will be affected by the proposed changes; the feedback should then be prioritised and recorded. This process is known as a ‘Needs Assessment‘ and will be instrumental in ensuring that the introduction of any new technology or service runs smoothly and helps the business to achieve its objectives.
Some common, more generic, considerations could include:
- Can the solution be used from home?
- Is the software compatible with different devices?
- Is it easy to use and intuitive?
- Is the solution automatically backed up?
- Is it secure?
- Is the software scalable?
- Is there immediate support?
- What are the associated costs?
The assumption that only a technology expert can conduct a thorough needs assessment is a common mistake that is made by brands.
The needs assessment isn’t about technology, it’s about what the business currently does, what it wants to accomplish and how investing in technology can help to achieve its objectives.
As such, employees involved in the daily running of an organisation are the only individuals who can identify and define what’s required from any new technology, as they are the people who understand the daily tasks, requirements and goals that are crucial to measuring success.
A member of IT should be involved in the process to answer questions and provide information regarding the solutions available, their benefits and limitations. However, their role should be that of an adviser, as opposed to someone guiding decisions.
2. Listen to employees
In order to understand your business challenges and formulate objectives, it’s crucial to include those individuals who are responsible for the day-to-day performing of tasks and who have a clear understanding as to what improvements are required. Encouraging open and honest discussions with employees, who have a working knowledge of the business, is the most effective way to getting this feedback.
In order to gain the trust of your employees and encourage feedback, ideas and opinion, business leaders need to be seen to act on the information they receive. Transparency is key to creating a culture of collaboration, where initiative is rewarded and encouraged.
Making decisions without seeking the opinion of those who’ll be most affected, the employees, will discourage them from volunteering any future input into how the business can be improved and may cause a feeling of resentment.
When surveyed on this topic, 64% of the 675 professional workers in the U.S. and Canada responded that “leaders making decisions without seeking input” was the biggest problem when it comes to taking initiative at work.
Feedback can be encouraged in a number of ways, including the use of ‘gamification’, offering incentives and using individual motivations (rather than those of a department or team).
3. Research the best solutions
For any business requirement there’s a plethora of companies offering a solution. Finding and being confident that you’ve identified the right one for your brand’s specific needs is key to success and achieving the objectives set out in your Needs Assessment.
Comparison/review sites are a good start, as they offer ratings and user feedback on the different options available to you. These sites include:
Word of mouth and referrals are also an excellent resource when looking for any type of solution. Industry forums and social media are great sources for unbiased opinions and should be utilised to gain an understanding of the benefits and potential limitations of your available options.
“On social media, 58% of consumers share their positive experiences with a company, and ask family, colleagues, and friends for their opinions about brands.” [SDL]
In a world where feedback is vital to success, many brands will happily offer a reference from, or the opportunity to speak to, a current customer. They’ll be listed on the above sites (as well as others) and actively encourage reviews and openness from their current client base.
When meeting with or viewing an online demo from potential suppliers, it’s important to refer to those requirements and objectives set out in your Needs Assessment, in order to ensure that the solution is suitable.
4. Create champions
Buy-in from business leaders and employees is an essential ingredient in the success of any implementation project.
Engaged, enthusiastic and tech-savvy employees, who are also positive, have the patience to answer questions and advocate the new solution, are a huge benefit to a brand when rolling out any new technology.
When a colleague has bought into – and is openly positive about – something new, their peers are much quicker to get on board and have the benefit of a resource immediately available to answer questions and offer advice.
Employee champions also help share information and messaging about any new campaign or project. Benefits, user tips or relaying/answering potential issues or user questions, can all be part of a champion’s remit, not only building on their knowledge and profile within the business, but also ensuring that those individuals carrying out technical project tasks can concentrate on just that, rather than answering user queries.
Champions will often display the following qualities:
- An understanding of engagement
- Enthusiasm and energy for the project and brand in general
- Knowledge of the business and employee roles
- Connections and credibility among their colleagues
- Confidence to take a leading role and field questions
- Ability to handle feedback, whether positive or negative, and process it appropriately
5. Utilise BYOD
‘Bring Your Own Device’ refers to employees being able to use their personal mobile phone, tablet or even wearable technology, to utilise business tools. Including the use of these devices in your future strategies will enable you to not only garner buy-in from your workforce, but also improve the efficiency and benefits of any solution implemented.
Familiarity with their own device(s) will mean that an employee will feel more at ease using new technology and will be more likely to use solutions outside of business hours or away from the office.
Ease of use and intuitive design are crucial considerations when deciding which solution to move forward with, as any barrier early in the project could cause individuals to take a negative view of its usability.
BYOD also means that most, if not all, of the operating costs are transferred to the user. Companies can save a large amount of money, as the employee is responsible for the running costs of their own device.
IT are also free from the responsibility of maintaining the device on behalf of the employee, freeing their time to concentrate on proactive tasks.
Embedding the BYOD way of thinking into your company culture will acclimatise your employees to the future implementation of cloud products, reducing resistance to such technology and improving overall buy-in.
6. Review regularly
The solutions you have in place should be reviewed on a regular basis. New tools will appear on the market, upgrades to existing solutions will be developed and even changes to your business requirements should all be taken into consideration frequently, to ensure that you’re making the most of the business tools you’re using on a daily basis.
As with the initial implementation, involving all those affected by the solution is essential to the success of an ongoing review process. Individual needs, department objectives and overall business direction all affect what it is that’s required from the tools being utilised; making sure that these needs are met should form a major part of your technological strategy.
7. Record benefits and wins, as well as challenges
Recognising, recording and learning from both the benefits and challenges experienced, when using your chosen solution, is imperative to its success. Understanding and acting upon the feedback provided by users, as to where the system works and where it may fall short, will help to identify and prioritise your business objectives.
Publicising the benefits of the chosen solution to all employees will improve buy-in and encourage its use throughout the business. Identifying key wins and business process improvements is an effective strategy to increase advocacy and embed a tool into the day-to-day company processes.