Onboarding a new task workflow management tool across hundreds (if not thousands) of employees is a major project that requires several months and a great deal of patience. Making sure you have the right training materials and management’s support is only the first part of convincing multiple employees and departments to utilize a new platform.
Before you start rolling out your new project management plan, follow these steps for a strategic — and successful — launch.
Start With the Early Adopters
Instead of rolling out the new software to the whole company, consider onboarding a few choice departments and then spreading the use throughout the business. This reduces the stress on your vendor and your training team, both of which are going to face hundreds of questions as the new tool is introduced.
There are two traits to look for when selecting your first “guinea pig” teams: tech-savvy departments and high-collaboration teams. Most companies prefer to start with the IT department because they’re going to have to learn the software inside out to train others.
The marketing department is also a common choice to help track workflow. Some people believe marketers have a software addiction, as they tend to juggle more than 100 platforms and apps throughout the day.
By starting with these two teams, you’re ensuring a few easy wins in the onboarding process. It’s easier to train someone who works with different SaaS platforms all day than someone who still uses a Rolodex and a fax machine.
Treat Your Enterprise Workflow System Like a Product Launch
Before you start introducing the task workflow management system into your company, create an adoption plan that tracks acceptance during the initial launch, the average onboarding time, and software use after six months. You want to set challenging (but achievable) goals and measure the yourself against them with each new department.
For example, 85% of marketing department might start to track workflow within a week of the launch, but only 40% of the legal department. If your benchmark goal was a 70% adoption rate, then you know to allocate more training and reinforcement to the legal team.
To build your software launch plan, look to products like Windows 10 or Facebook Messenger to mimic how they convinced their customers to make the switch. If Microsoft let them, some people would stay on Windows 7 for the next decade, so they have to keep building the pressure until they eventually upgrade.
Meanwhile, Facebook created an introductory period for Messenger to let users try the new app and the old Facebook one. Eventually, they pulled the plug on the old style and forced everyone onto Facebook Messenger.
Communicate the Benefits and Uses Upfront
For every department that gains access to your enterprise workflow system, throw a launch party that introduces the tool, stages a walk-through of getting set up, and highlights the benefits. You can either plan an afternoon meeting to pull everyone together, or hold a brown bag lunch party in the middle of the day.
Start with an overview of the software’s benefits. More than 62% of employees feel software adoption within their companies is slow — primarily because of lack of communication of its benefits. This is your chance to highlight those benefits and showcase how this vendor will solve department-wide problems in ways other tools can’t.
After the benefits pitch, run through a step-by-step tutorial on how to get set up on the new task workflow tool. If your employees bring their laptops to meetings with them, get them signed up then and there. At the end of the launch, let your team know that you’re available to answer questions and that you have an open-door policy for software troubleshooting. This will reduce the frustration of individualized questions forcing the meeting to run late.
Find Evangelists to Spread the Word
If you’re treating your new enterprise workflow system like a product launch, then you need to find early adopters to champion your cause. These people need to be heavy users of the new software, and they need to be strategic collaborators across multiple departments.
Let’s say you deployed your new software to the marketing department, and your SEO team is working with product development to revamp a few brand pages. As the two teams meet, the SEO team will be setting deadlines and assigning deliverables within the new task workflow management tool. This creates a perfect opportunity to introduce the new vendor to the product team, and even get them signed up to test it out.
By tapping brand advocates to spread the word across multiple departments, you’re generating buzz in the same way your employees show off their Fitbit or Apple Watch. Instead of implementing software as a demand from the CEO, it’s an interesting tool that advanced teams get to use.
Start Limiting Content to the New System
Not every software launch is met with excitement and immediate adoption. Jay-Z and Kanye West’s Tidal streaming service has seen lackluster adoption ever since it first debuted, even with a slew of brand ambassadors such as Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, and Deadmau5 backing it.
Recently, the app started changing its marketing strategy to release exclusive albums that can’t be found on iTunes or Spotify. So, if you wanted to listen to Kanye’s Life of Pablo or stream Beyonce’s Lemonade when it first came out, you had to download Tidal.
After you set your initial adoption period, start limiting information and content to the new platform. These don’t have to be mission-critical tasks or announcements, but they do need to create an incentive to log in.
Try letting your employees leave an hour early, but only share the message on the new management tool. Schedule project check-in meetings and see who gets the notification. Even if your entire team doesn’t use the tool for task management just yet, you can start building a habit of checking the software regularly for news and requests.
Don’t Let Your Laggards Fall Behind
A key strategy in your launch plan needs to involve meeting with the team members who are struggling to use the new software and identifying what challenges they face. For these cases, prepare a list of common excuses and talking points to counter their logic.
For example, a common complaint among some employees is that they’ve used pen and paper to track workflow for the past 30 years — why should they change their ways? This is countered with information about software making collaboration easier for the whole team, and making sure the boss knows work is getting done.
If only half of your company uses the new enterprise workflow system, then it’s easy for people to stop using it and ignore management’s adoption plan. You want to launch the next Instgram within your company’s task workflow management, not the next MySpace. The best way to do that is to strategically plan the launch, grow company use over time, and make sure no one slips through the cracks.