How to Break Through the Barriers of Technological Opposition
One important but sometimes overlooked component of assessing your digital strategy is simply looking into whether your employees are loving your software or secretly hating it. Employees work with the technology every day, knowing which systems are difficult to navigate and are lacking efficiency.
According to a Forrester study, a whopping 75 percent of respondents reported having a tough time accessing info via enterprise systems and applications. While you can always conduct a survey or hold a meeting to gauge your staff’s level of satisfaction with company software, there are a few obvious hints that can reveal whether you have several tech-frustrated employees who are unhappy with your technology.
If you take the learning curve out of the equation, your staff shouldn’t be making repeat mistakes. If otherwise competent employees are continuously getting confused and having issues, it may be time for new technology. For example, if the company has a simple need—such as the need to monitor your rate of on-time delivery—you should have a simple tracking system in place, not only for delivery truck drivers to complete, but for you to be able to quickly visualize the data around that aspect of performance. If you find that simple tasks are complicated to execute or the system is not intuitive, your software isn’t meeting your needs.
In a business with multiple departments accessing and utilizing a system, it is especially important that it doesn’t cause misunderstandings, differing expectations or relationship-hindering challenges. Keep an eye out for workflow issues with the technology in a department or between departments.
Lastly, if you see a decrease in productivity, or if projects seem to take longer than they should, it could be a software issue. Not only does poor software slow employees down, but a lack of technology adoption in the first place for a project could be a problem. For example, if a system requires a multi-step authentication process, when speed and efficiency is being tracked, this could cause frustration. Also, processes you are still doing manually, say certain aspects of customer service, may have technology resources to allow employees to spend time on more productive tasks.
Now that you’ve assessed your digital strategy, understand where and how you’ll upgrade, you’re ready to roll it out. You feel a renewed sense of control over operations and look forward to insight into your business that you’ve never had before on warehousing, delivery, inventory, customer service and more.
In reality though, you face what may be your biggest, and most important, hurdle in adopting new technology in business — getting your staff trained on the new system. And it’s not unusual for employees to resist change, even if they can see how the technology will improve the business in the long-run and it is addressing one of the complaints they made formerly about a system.
There are some best practices executives can implement in helping employees learn new methods, in hopes of limiting frustrations caused by invariable delays and errors as the new system comes online.
Set up extensive technical assistance. Research shows that software development training assistance is critical. New technology naturally has bumps as it gets ramped up. There may also be a steep learning curve. Studies have shown that the more technical support provided in an onboarding period, the more successful the rollout will be. It can also help taper frustrations if access to technical support is quick and easy.
Focus on the most important features. As much as 60 percent of software features are never used. This happens so often there’s a name for it: shelfware. To a certain extent, shelfware is inevitable. Software makers constantly add new features in a quest to meet customer demand and stay relevant. But after a time, the software has many features most users never touch. When you train employees on new software, focus the majority of your training on the 20 to 40 percent of features users access on a regular basis.
In trucking and logistics, key features might include reporting updates so finance can generate reports that are timely and insightful, allowing them to determine the risks and costs associated with driver performance, or inventory tracking.
A popular yet irrelevant feature might be activity feeds—a lot of software nowadays wants to include a social feature to their systems. For instance, when a delivery is made, the “news feed” might post an automatic update. It’s good to know that “John Smith” has delivered XYZ shipment, but not everyone cares and it becomes more noise than usefulness.
Leverage influential users. Before rollout, create an incentivized team of early adopters. These employees were likely already a proponent of the investment and are excited by learning a new system. You can leverage their leadership and spirit by designating them as the go-to people, while also giving the employee a morale boost with the recognized role.
Post-training follow up. Communication is key when the training is done and the software is live. You’ll eventually experience bottlenecks and setbacks when introducing new technology into the workplace. The only way to overcome these challenges is to constantly communicate with your staff, specifically staff at all levels. Schedule regular meetings, perhaps once a week or every two weeks, to review progress. In between, engage workers in casual conversation. The incentivized team leads can play an integral role in gathering this information as well.
Identifying your employees’ threshold for existing and new technology takes time and patience. Technical assistance, influential users, online training, follow-ups, open communication and a focus on high-impact features are all important contributors to successfully training employees on new software. Commit to using these tactics to give your team every chance of making the project a success.
Humberto Farias is a seasoned technology professional with over 18 years of experience guiding companies around the world through the custom software development process. Humberto’s work across more than 10 industries and 3 continents, including work with Fortune 500 companies such as Walt Disney World and GE, has given him a keen ability for approaching every opportunity with fresh ideas and out-of-the-box thinking to find the most impactful technological solution. As a dynamic business leader and a Certified Scrum Master, Humberto leads a team of highly skilled software engineers and developers at Concepta, providing tailored web and mobile applications to small-to-medium enterprises.