Changing any aspect of a company’s status quo is stressful, especially when it significantly affects how people work. Implementing new software falls into that category, and it’s a challenge that affects many Australian industries — from construction to facilities maintenance. Field technicians often feel a sense of uncertainty with new software changes. They may be anxious about the usability of the software, its features, and the length of time they’re given to learn it.
If you want your software implementation to be painless for everyone, you need strategies to tackle change-related stress. Here are some proven steps you can take to ensure a stress-free switch to new software:
Elaborate on the value of new software
People tend to be anxious about new software when they don’t know why the company is making the switch in the first place. When field technicians are left in the dark about key technology decisions, they’ll be reluctant to accept them. People will wonder why they should even bother adopting a new system when the current one suits their needs just fine. All of this can drastically slow down your migration efforts.
It’s therefore important to provide clear explanations for updating existing processes and systems. You should highlight key differences in capabilities between the old and new software, and talk about their effects on productivity levels. Also focus on intuitive features, such as streamlined work order processing, scheduling, and invoicing to gain buy-in from technicians.
You can also appeal to your technicians’ self-interest by discussing how new software improves their skills. For instance, if you’re implementing field force software, you can tell technicians that familiarity with industry-standard tools like WorkBuddy improves their career advancement prospects.
Involve staff in early decision-making processes
While the decision to shift to a new system is ultimately in your hands, involving field technicians in key decisions can ease implementation anxieties. Consider consulting with technicians during the software selection process so you know what features to look for in a new system. Then, conduct pilot tests of shortlisted software with technicians and encourage them to voice their honest opinion on the overall user experience. If pilot testers feel that key functions of a particular software are missing or confusing, for example, it may be worth looking for something else.
Technicians should also have a say in the implementation process itself. More specifically, you must have an open discussion about the rollout and the level of support technicians will need. Once there’s a general consensus between technicians and managers, you can confidently move forward without causing unnecessary stress.
Get early adopters to assure anxious technicians
Another effective way to alleviate anxiety about new software is to find people who will champion the software. These champions are often the enthusiastic early adopters who can communicate the benefits of the software to the rest of your team. What’s more, they can provide hands-on assistance and training to those who are struggling with the implementation. Plus, early adopters can be an approachable intermediary to managers when technicians want to ask questions or voice concerns about the new software.
Establish a time frame for the switch
Nothing induces technicians’ anxiety about software migrations more than setting unreasonable deadlines. Any significant software implementation requires at least three months to acquire licences, test and integrate the software, configure security settings, and migrate data. Technicians will also need time to adjust to the software.
Keep in mind that implementation time will vary based on the company’s size, features, budget, and the type of software. Cloud-based software is relatively easy to deploy, which allows you to get away with a smaller time frame. At the same time, you can’t rush a deployment if technicians aren’t ready or when the company is at its busiest. Make sure there’s ample time for training, preferably when technicians aren’t preoccupied with crucial tasks.
Set up an engaging training program
Technicians are under a lot of pressure when new software is introduced. Not only do they need to adapt to different user interfaces and features, but they also have to adjust to new workflows and unlearn old ones. This is why you need informative training sessions that walk field staff through the various functions of the software and through the menus.
However, merely giving staff a week-long lecture about the software isn’t enough to guarantee a smooth transition. Your software training program must be as engaging as it is informative. That means accommodating for different learning styles with video tutorials, live demos, and practical exercises using the software. It’s also a good idea to make training videos and other resources available online for those who want to refresh their knowledge.
To make training more engaging, you can gamify the entire process through progress bars, role-playing exercises, and quizzes. Offering simple rewards like company recognition and gift cards after training milestones greatly encourages field staff to incorporate the software into their daily workflows.
Proper planning that factors your technicians’ needs can go a long way in making new software deployments a less stressful endeavour. If you’re thinking of switching to a new field force platform, implementing WorkBuddy is as stress-free as it gets. It’s a cloud-based solution that provides intuitive features and integrates seamlessly with other enterprise platforms. Contact our consultants today to see if it is the right software for your organisation.