When new software is implemented in your native environment – that’s when the real learning happens. Everything prior to that point was theoretical. Take this time to learn how this software uniquely meets the needs of your business.
The implementation of new software technology can be challenging on multiple fronts. We both want to get it over with and get it done right—those are often conflicting priorities. We often say this phrase: go slow to move fast later with print software implementation.
Go slow in the beginning to make sure people are comfortable and that you’ve getting the feedback to the vendor in a pace that they can digest. For example, you want to get a few CSRs comfortable with the software, then spread it out to a larger group. The adoption of software is already stressful for most people; don’t make it more stressful than necessary by asking people to hurry or adding an unnecessary layer of chaos. The first interactions with software are valuable because each person sees it from their unique angle. It can provide the best possible feedback. If you hurry through this process, you’ll miss many of those first impressions.
Once a software shows proven value the general reaction is “open the flood gates.” This can work if you’ve thought through all the upstream and downstream impacts of the software, which—candidly—rarely happens. You discover all the impacts through using the solution. I think this is the biggest expectation killer in print software. The assumption is that once you start using the print software, it should work perfectly and there should be no issues. This is not the case.
When you first start using print software, the learning curve is the highest and the feedback is the richest. Don’t rush through this stage of the game; make sure you’re getting the most out of it. The key is to set the mindset of your team properly. They are not looking for reasons why the solution will not work; they are looking for gotchas that need to be addressed or worked around prior to wide-scale launch. These two things might sound the same, but they aren’t. Your team is using the software in their native environment; this is very different than watching a demo on a trade show floor. This is where the rubber meets the road.
The way you navigate this part of the process makes or breaks the implementation.
Do you get frustrated and throw up your hands and give up? Or do you dig in and find ways to succeed despite the software not behaving exactly how you would want it to? The key is to look at the initial use in your native environment as the path to finding the warts for your business in this software. Every single software application in the world has warts. A wart to some customers is a rose to others; it all depends upon your perspective. Some customers want something to work very specifically; others don’t want that feature at all. There are always tradeoffs.
Your people will react to this stage of the implementation in various ways. Some people will be adamant that everything needs to be perfect (all warts burned off) before you do a widespread launch; others will be more relaxed and understand that the technology is bringing so much value that they can live with a few warts. Find the happy medium because you won’t get all the warts removed; you must succeed despite them.
Often at this point in the implementation, people get so focused on finding what’s wrong that they forget all the benefits of the software or take them for granted. The leaders must remind folks why you’re doing this in the first place. Too often people forget about the painful process they are replacing using the new tool almost immediately, and then set the expectation of perfection on the new tool when the old process was archaic!
Stay calm, stay focused, listen and learn. The first couple weeks of using a new software solution are critical to your long-term success.