8 Best Practices for Rolling out a New Tool or Process Jonathan Herrick Successfully onboarding your team and offering the right support when you integrate a new tool or process is just as important as selecting the right tool or process in the first place. The resources that you put in place for your employees aren’t always intuitive, which means that user adoption needs to be a proactive undertaking designed to get everyone on the same page at the same time. This is as true for small and medium sized businesses as it is for large ones. To roll out a new tool or process you need to both prepare in advance for company-wide implementation and take the appropriate steps as needed once the new system is in place. And whether it’s a new piece of software or a new procedure for interacting with existing software, the more successful your adoption efforts the more successful the change will be. To facilitate as smooth a process as possible, adhere to the following dos and don’ts regarding best practices for rolling out a new tool or process among your team. Preparing for the Roll Out Do communicate any upcoming changes with everyone — not just management. Every single employee who is going to be impacted by the change or changes to the system needs to be apprised of what’s going on. While managers may be the ones who are responsible for optimizing user adoption among those who directly report to them, communicate with all end users about what new tool or process you are going to be implementing and why. Don’t just try to wing it. Effective onboarding isn’t something that happens on its own. Before implementation, devise a planning and training schedule that can serve as a guide for all users. That way, everyone will know what’s expected of them and when, and there will also be assurance across the network that proper onboarding will be provided. Do listen to concerns. Business professionals are notoriously wary about change, and it’s possible that you’ll face a bit of dissent. Don’t abandon your plans, but do use any questions or concerns as an opportunity to highlight the need for the solution you’re proposing and to get everyone up to date about why the new tool or process is going to be beneficial. Don’t forget to accommodate for lost productivity during onboarding. The necessary tasks involved in onboarding will require that you pull your employees away from their other day-to-day to do lists — at least for a little bit. Be sure to plan for this while you prepare for the roll out, both in terms of budget and in terms of how you’re going to make up for any losses in productivity. To mitigate issues in this area, you may want to consider onboarding your team department by department instead of training everyone at once. Setting Employees Up for Success Do stress urgency. Remember the resistance to change we mentioned? It can persist long after implementation if you don’t make a point of instilling the urgency and importance of the transition. Make sure that each and every end user is clear about why the change is so crucial, and that they know there is no other option but to learn their way around the new system — even if it’s difficult or confusing at first. Don’t just set it and forget it. Have a person or persons responsible for monitoring the onboarding process and the weeks and months that follow with the new tool or process in place. This way, you won’t have to worry about whether there are any issues going on, and if problems do occur you’ll know about them right away. It’s a good idea to have at least one point person as well who your employees know they can go to with any questions. Do provide training documents that employees can refer to. Just like learning any new skill, it often takes employees a bit of time to fully understand new tools and processes. As such, it is immensely helpful if, in addition to on-site training, you provide each employee with documents that clearly overview the steps they need to take to transition to the new solution and to use it effectively. Don’t neglect future training needs. It’s not only current employees who will need to learn how the tool or process functions. Create a plan for onboarding new employees too so that anyone who comes in will have all of the information that they need to adhere to the system. This shouldn’t be too difficult, as it will likely just require some light tweaking of the onboarding documents you create for existing team members. Whether the plan is to do things a little differently or a lot differently, the onboarding process doesn’t have to be stressful for either decision makers or end users. With a plan in place, you can greatly reduce the challenges that you’ll face and help ensure an efficient roll out.