When working with enterprise clients, there’s one problem we come up against over and over again. They’re often working with outdated internal software — legacy software that’s been around since the age of dawn, so to speak.
While this software might have been a well-oiled machine once upon a time, those days are long gone. Software that once ran smoothly now feels clunky and bloated. Tasks take longer to complete, team members get frustrated, and mistakes happen. Worst of all, it’s costly.
And we know this firsthand. Before we started updating their internal software, Blackwood’s old system was costing them an estimated £8,000 for each new employee they had to onboard. That’s a lot of wasted money (and time) that could have been better spent elsewhere.
We get it. Setting up new software can seem like a hassle, especially when you have something that kinda works. It constantly falls down the priority list. But the results of implementing new software will be transformative for your business.
With the right plan in place, enterprises can effectively implement new software without disrupting their team’s productivity.
Using old, outdated software is harming your business
That’s the short of it. It’s easy to overlook your internal software when finding ways to optimise your business.
Outdated software is hard to use — often due to new features being layered one on top of the other over years of use. Not to mention it’s old, and software that hasn’t been updated doesn’t work well with modern solutions. It won’t plug into newer technologies or account for new ways of working, locking you into an ecosystem everyone else has moved on from.
The discombobulated structure of old software means employees spend longer completing tasks. The software is confusing and new team members need more training to understand how to use it. Productivity levels are lower, while the risk of human error is higher.
Put them all together and these challenges can quickly become costly.
But, there’s a simple solution for it all.
Update your internal software, or replace your old software entirely with a scalable solution that can evolve as your business grows.
Discover how we helped Blackwood save over £8,000 in employee onboarding costs by updating their internal systems to a modern solution. Read the full case study here.
The challenge of changing your internal software
Updating your software is the obvious solution to fixing outdated internal systems. But, reviving legacy software isn’t without its challenges.
Even the best-laid plans can go wrong. But by being aware of potential challenges and bottlenecks, you can put processes in place to make new software implementation a smooth-sailing operation.
One of the biggest challenges to changing your internal software will stem from your team. People can be creatures of habit. They like what they’re used to. This can also apply to your employees.
Team members may feel resistant to trying new software. After all, they’ve invested time and energy into using the current software, they’re familiar with how it works, and they likely don’t have the time to learn something new. These feelings of resistance can lead to low employee adoption, even if there are obvious advantages.
If the new software doesn’t match up with users’ or stakeholders’ expectations, this can also impact uptake.
Other causes for concern with changing software include not providing team members with adequate training, having a lack of support from your software provider, and experiencing a lack of preparedness.
Understanding these challenges and how to effectively set up new internal software, however, will help you overcome them.
How to prepare your team for change
One of the best ways to offset the challenges of updating your company’s internal software is to prepare your team for the change.
Your employees are the beating heart of your business. They are the ones who get things done. And they’re also the ones who spend the most time using your internal systems. With all that in mind, it makes sense to involve them in your plans to update your internal software.
Involve employees in your internal software update from day one by taking the time to understand their software needs. When updating your internal software, we’ll sit down with your team to watch how they use the current system. We’ll also chat with them to better understand their user needs and any challenges or pain points they have with the current software — this step is especially helpful for figuring out how to fix those issues when implementing the new software.
Speaking with your team and understanding how they use your internal software, and what they need from it, is key for involving them in the decision-making process. It lets them know their experiences and ideas are valued.
Actively involving your team in the decision-making process means they will be more likely to embrace the changes and feel encouraged to adopt the updated software — leading to increased adoption rates and smoother onboarding.
Preparing your team for internal software changes isn’t just about involving them in the decision-making process. It is also about making sure they understand how to use the new software once it’s been implemented. Once the new software has been implemented, set time aside to train your employees on the new systems. Providing adequate training helps increase adoption and gives you a chance to iron out any final issues or bugs with the software.
Finally, prepare your team for the new software by educating them on the benefits. Help your team understand how the updated systems will make their working lives easier. Most people will transition to new software when they need to.
By involving your team in the process, informing them of the benefits, and helping them adopt the new software, you can turn tech laggards into early adopters.
How to effectively implement new software
As we’ve already discussed, implementing new software can be tricky if you aren’t prepared. It requires careful planning and execution.
1. Create a project timeline
Make sure your new internal software is effectively set up by first creating a timeline for implementation. Projects work best when they’re well-managed. Create a project timeline and be sure to give everyone involved clarity on what’s happening and when.
Set milestones, deadlines, and responsibilities along the timeline to keep the project on track. Remember to be realistic with your timeline, accounting for potential delays or dependencies.
If your project is enormous, maybe you’re thinking about rewriting years (or even decades) worth of code, then consider breaking the project up into smaller project phases so you can tackle each part in smaller steps, and release updates sooner.
2. Identify any roadblocks (and fix them)
While working through the timeline, identify any potential roadblocks that could arise at various points of the software implementation and map out the solutions for these problems.
If you’re reworking years of design, development and decision making you’re going to find things which could be improved.
Some problems that you might encounter include technical issues, constraints with resources, or resistance from team members.
Anticipate the problems that could arise then create contingency plans or solutions to mitigate these roadblocks. Work closely with stakeholders including IT, department heads, and the team members who will be using the software, to brainstorm solutions and get their buy-in to overcome any potential roadblocks.
3. Conduct user research
Before you roll out the new software, conduct user tests to understand what your team needs from the new software.
Map out the user journey to understand how different team members will interact with the software to ensure it aligns with their workflows and goals.
User journeys can be complex so be sure to work on the user journey at the same time as developing the software. Working on the user journey and user interface (UI) in tandem means you can make sure each element of the software has been designed with the users’ needs in mind.
And make sure to get feedback as you go. Even within teams, how different users work with current software can vary dramatically. When recreating software it’s essential to test and re-test your assumptions to ensure they are correct.
We did this when setting up Blackwood’s new internal software and it worked a treat. The new software was easy to use, employee onboarding improved, and team members could effectively complete tasks.
4. Design & Build
Armed with your user research and project timeline, you can now dive into designing and building your new internal software.
How the new internal software looks and functions should be informed by the challenges and pain-points of your old systems — along with the current and future needs of your team.
Focus on fixing these challenges when rebuilding the software to make sure the updated software addresses your users needs. This is a great way to make the software redesign a user-centric process. In turn, your team will be much more excited for the updated systems to roll out.
Involving your team in the process is key for getting them on board with the software redesign. Better yet, give them responsibilities. Find team champions who you can help you build excitement around the new software, share the benefits of updating the software, and get other team members on board with the internal software redesign.
5. Gather user feedback
As mentioned earlier, involving your employees in the process will increase adoption. But, that’s not the only benefit it serves. Creating channels for feedback, having regular check-ins, and involving stakeholders in the process will help the project run smoothly.
This level of transparency and collaboration means stakeholders and users have a chance to get their voices heard, leading to an overall better product.
It’s important to collect feedback throughout the process, from the first stages of design through to implementation. (Don’t leave it until right at the end!)
We’re constantly improving our own approach to gathering user feedback. We’ve recently added a new notes feature to our Figma files to improve client communication. By using clear sticky notes, labels, and comment boxes, we can easily keep clients informed about the project progress and any interesting features, insights, or updates. These notes are a simple addition that helps us address any concerns early on, while also building trust and ensuring a collaborative approach to implementation.
6. Test the new software
If there’s anything you should learn from your old, outdated software, it’s this: implementing new software isn’t a one-time event. It’s an ongoing process.
As you build out your new software, make sure to add test suites to your project to ensure that it remains at a high quality not just when you deploy, but years after launch. This can include things like unit tests, visual snapshots, and end-to-end tests, covering a wide range of use cases.
Alongside developing your new software, continually test and monitor performance. Testing the software and keeping a close eye on performance will let you notice if systems begin to degrade or go offline. Continuous testing gives you the assurance that your software will always work correctly, no matter what changes you make.
An ongoing testing and maintenance strategy should include regular software updates, bug fixes, and gathering user feedback to make sure it still fulfils user needs.
Working with modern software solutions makes light work of updating software. You can add new features and adapt your internal systems to keep up with changes within your business.
Taking a proactive approach to monitoring and optimising software will keep your internal systems running optimally long into the future.
7. Train employees
Don’t just leave your employees to figure out new software on their own.
Build training into your software. Creating a great User Experience is essential for having users intuitively understand how things work (especially with a little practice) but for new team members, you’ll want to consider setting up introductory tours and walkthroughs.
This will help ensure that your team can easily understand how to work with your software, and provide them with a means to easily revisit the learning resources weeks, months, or years after their initial training without the fear of wasting company time (or looking silly).
And as you update your software over time, this also provides a great way of highlighting what’s new, keeping your entire team up-to-date.
Offer ongoing support and resources to address any questions or concerns that may arise in the transition period from old to new software. Doing this will ensure a smooth onboarding process that lets team members fully leverage the capabilities of the new software.
At Skyward, we work hard to ensure your users can easily understand how to use any new software we develop. Ensuring ease of use starts at the very beginning to make your software as easy to pick up initially as it is to use after years. We’re on hand to help out with any questions too, as your team transitions over to a different way of working.
Implementing software without disrupting your team
By following these steps, you can master the art of implementing new software for your enterprise — without causing disruption to your employees.
Remember to keep your team’s needs in mind and do everything you can to prepare them for the change. Not everyone will be an early adopter so it helps to put plans in place to make software uptake easier, more efficient, and more enticing for your employees.
Effectively implementing software isn’t just about getting your team on board. You also need to have a project plan for implementation. Make sure this plan anticipates roadblocks, involves employees in the process, and prioritises transparency. User feedback, software testing, and providing adequate training will all help ensure a seamless transition too.
Ready to implement new software in your organisation? Let us guide you through the process.
With our hands-on expertise and experience, we can help you update your internal software solutions without upsetting your team. Get in touch to discuss your internal software needs and ideas.