How to Introduce New Systems Without Headaches
We’ve all been on the receiving end of a software update that’s left us frustrated and baffled. We didn’t expect that button to move! And where do I access my shared files now in this new system? We’d love to say, “wow, this is a dramatic improvement!” every time our tools change. We know that’s not always the case.
It’s not just limited to updates either. Often, you’re introduced to whole new pieces of software as old systems become obsolete. You might get one session of training if you’re lucky. Otherwise, you’re left to search for how-to’s on the web. It always seems like there’s at least one thing the old system did well that the new system doesn’t. Often that’s enough to cause friction.
Because of this, teams are often resistant to new systems. We get it. But as a company who builds solutions, we’ve also been on the other side of the fence. There are a lot of different reasons a new system rolls out to frustration. We’re going to let you in on some secrets that make the rollout of new systems in your workplace much, much smoother.
If you know a change is coming, tell the team. If you are working on the new system directly, make sure your peers are aware of what changes are coming. These peers can relay info to their teams so that everyone has some basic awareness of what to expect in the near future. If you’re in charge of a team, be explicit about why the change is happening and what the benefits are to the entire company.
Show and Tell New Systems
For internal projects, schedule “show and tells” as early as possible to demonstrate new features. Then, features won’t feel as jarring when the rollout occurs. It’s also a great chance to stage a little “pep rally” for developers. These meetings should feel fresh and exciting. Frame new features with “you’re really going to love this…” and “this will make your job so much easier.” Don’t let a bland show and tell give people a chance to grow skeptical.
For the rollout of new systems your company is buying into, apply the same principles. Existing software will have demo walk-throughs. Show the team why the decision is being made to use this new tool, and reinforce how much more useful it will be to the entire company than the old way of doing things.
Excitement is key. For one of our biggest clients, we not only tackled the design and development of the software itself, but the hype as well. Realizing the talent pool within our relationship, they had us create a series of comic books showcasing the future of their workplace using the new systems. Key personnel received a custom-made vinyl toy representing how the new systems looked like a sleek robot compared to the existing, broken-down workflow. Executives received a small coffee table book, with beautiful photos that sold the vision of how these new systems were going to change their industry.
We don’t expect every rollout to have that level of hype, but the principle is worth noting. That is, all of these efforts were overwhelmingly positive. They were specifically designed to create a team atmosphere that would discourage naysaying and encourage company buy-in, from all levels of their global workforce.
Take Smaller Bites
Lastly, if the new system is an internal one, think incrementally. One thing Facebook has done remarkably well is make changes to their platform by rolling things out one at a time. Just when a Facebook interaction becomes second nature to a user, a new feature appears.
Imagine the blowback from users if Facebook changed their entire look, feel, and features in one week! Facebook thinks big, but they approach these plans one small step at a time. If you look at a screenshot of Facebook from just a year ago, you’d be shocked at how many things changed without you noticing. Weekly updates to their app are nearly imperceptible when they launch, but work toward their overall design and development goals.
Consider your long-term goal and the features you need to get there. Then, consider what the smallest pain points are. Here’s an example: You want to redo a clunky navigation? Start by moving the current navigation, intact, to the location of your intended new nav. Your users learn quickly that the functions they’re used to now have a new home on the page. Then, once they understand the new location, redo the options you intended within the new navigation.
Changing everything from top to bottom in one day causes training headaches, productivity loss, and resentful, toxic morale. To be honest, this resentment is often born from fear (“can I keep doing my job in the way that makes sense to me?”). Roll out incrementally and nobody gets scared that their whole way of working is thrown into disarray.
Think Like Users
At the end of the day, Rocksauce Studios creates products that people want to use. We’re users ourselves, and we struggle as much as you do, for exactly the same reasons listed above that anyone might struggle. Fear, skepticism, and confusion can be avoided. We’ve seen these insights work for our own team and others when new systems are deployed.
Talk to us at [email protected] or call us at (866) 981-6847 when you need to rollout your own new system, 100% headache-free.