So, you’ve made the correct decision and purchased the best fit software for your business well done!
Since you made the right choice in software based on your business needs, it should all be smooth from here right? Sorry, wrong! In-fact, research shows that 50% of projects that fail, do not fail because the requirements were done incorrectly, rather, “lack of system buy-in” is one of the biggest reasons for project failure (https://www.objectstyle.com/agile/software-projects-failure-statistics-and-reasons). So, how do we avoid “no buy-in”.
Any time you implement a new software within your business or organization, or any change for that matter, there are a lot of critical components that need to happen if you want the rollout to be successful. You’ve got to make sure everyone is trained, confirm all of the data is efficiently and accurately transferred over, perform tests to ensure everything is working properly; the list goes on and on.
But the absolute most important element you need to ensure the success of your new investment and change is BUY-IN! Without buy-in from all levels of the organization, it doesn’t matter how much training and testing you do, your new software implementation is doomed to failure.
IT STARTS AT THE TOP
In many cases, since the “workers” are the ones using the software, they are the often ones pushing for it to be implemented as a way to make their lives easier. But if you want lasting buy-in, it can’t start from the bottom, it has to start at the top. The executive team is ultimately the ones signing the checks and making the decisions, so nothing will ever truly grab hold unless they are fully behind it.
Additionally, if you start at the top it will naturally flow down to middle management and then to the lower level workers. Trying to go the other way, sometimes middle managers won’t buy-in because it’s not coming from a superior. By not following the chain of command, you get chaos and confusion. Both are death blows for a successful software launch.
MIDDLE MANAGERS ARE NEXT
Once you have buy-in from the top leaders of the organization, the next step is to ensure you get buy-in from middle management. This is the absolutely key. Middle Managers are nearly always the toughest ones to convince unless it’s their decision but if you can get them on board (with the backing and support of upper management), then your implementation of EntireHR or any other software and changes will have much higher chance to succeed.
Why is this? Usually it’s because middle managers are the key “doers” in the company, they are the ones who get things done, by managing larger teams with direct input on those that become standard users of the software. Additionally, they will have engineered some of the current workarounds in the existing software, or even have created their department’s processes within the business. Tread lightly here, as that shiny new software you’re excited as a Director or CEO can appear like a dangerous threat to a middle manager if not properly communicated. Luckily, this has an easy fix.
Tell your middle managers you’re looking for a new system in advance, and ask for their input before going out to market, even better, involve them in the presentation if it’s a critical operational system. This gives them a stake in the outcome, and when you select a new software, use their criteria and show them how you’re using their criteria. It’s both good business practice (you might be a little disconnected from the action if your company is fairly large) and it ensures when you put in a new software that changes their department’s processes, it isn’t sabotaged either deliberately or subconsciously by middle management (I have seen this more times than you would believe).
It’s important to remember, this group is also often the most time poor in the organisation, having to do both management and operational tasks. Hence, if the new implementation is not made a clear priority to them with dedicated time allowed it will be abandoned to keep their department running.
The solution for this is assigning them dedicated time to the new implementation every week. It might seem costly, but it’s the only way to guarantee that your new software gets the buy-in it needs from the critical middle management team to get launched. Without it, middle management buy-in is much less likely, leading to a higher chance of software implementation failure and that will be a much bigger cost to the company long term. Assign them the dedicated time and thank yourself later.
By showing how them the benefits of the change in regard to their role, how it makes their team function better and why it works, so they can relay that down to their teams. Be prepared to engage feedback and take it on board, but you may need to be firm here if you’re changing from a long incumbent solution. By focusing middle managers on how much more productive they will be, and being firm in the outcome, they will be on the frontlines enforcing the change for you.
THEN COMES THE WORKFORCE
Now that you have executive and middle management buy-in, the last buy-in you need is from the bottom-level workforce. The good news is they are usually the easiest to get buy-in from, assuming the software actually works how it should (otherwise you got a whole other problem!). Generally, the workforce will deal with whatever is thrown their way. They typically haven’t been at the company as long and aren’t as invested in old procedures and policies, so they’ll usually follow the lead of their supervisor.
THE LAST PIECE OF THE PUZZLE IS METRICS
To keep this continual support and buy-in the last piece of the puzzle is reporting metrics. Keep track of the efficiencies the new software is providing and report that up the chain. Employees and executives will see the benefits and continue their support.
TOP-DOWN IS A PROVEN FORMULA FOR BUY-IN
If you follow this proven top-down formula as outlined above for buy-in at your organization, your software implementation will be successful. Failed tests or faulty information can be fixed and overcome quite easily when you have proper and full buy-in from everyone. Conversely, if nobody is supporting the change, it doesn’t matter how perfect your data and testing are – implementation will fall flat. The choice is yours!