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Have You Overlooked These Change Management Questions?

IStock_000018668673Small Slma-recommended-187There is something so satisfying about going live with new enterprise software, isn’t there? After all, you likely spent weeks -- maybe even months -- researching solutions, sitting through demos, trialing software, and guiding a committee of stakeholders to make a final decision.

Time to sit back and revel in the glory, right? Maybe. It all depends upon your approach to change management and training.

We’ve all read about the horror stories of failed implementations. Sometimes it’s obviously the vendor or consultant’s fault. However, failure can often be traced back to inadequate planning for change.

In my career, I’ve had a front row seat at many enterprise solution implementations for both VanillaSoft and our clients. Here are three essential questions I’ve seen people overlook or shortchange when embarking on a deployment.

Does the pain of change outweigh the big-picture promise of a particular solution?

As a leader or decision maker, it’s easy to focus on the leadership-level features and benefits when evaluating sales technology and other enterprise systems. Before you pull the trigger to purchase based on these features alone, ask yourself the following questions:

  •  Will this technology increase or decrease our end users’ workloads compared to our current state?
  • How dramatic is the difference between the current solution and the proposed solution?
  • Does the new solution require new equipment or additional services or skills?

 Once you’ve evaluated the answers to these questions, you should have a good idea of whether or not the pain and cost of change is worth moving forward with a specific vendor.

Do I have a plan that embraces communication?

Nothing seems to rile up users more than springing a big software or procedure change on them at the last minute. To preempt a user revolt, communicate what’s coming and why a change in technology is important.

  •  Tell each group of stakeholders what’s in it for them. What will they get out of the change?
  • Explain why the upcoming change is important to the organization.
  • Describe how the deployment will roll out and when users can expect to be trained.
  • Identify champions who can help you gain buy-in with users. Give them information to help them support and cheer on the roll out with their peers.
  • Ask for and be open to questions, concerns, and even complaints. If you don’t allow users to express themselves regarding how the change has affected them, you may miss out on important information that will disrupt overall adoption.
  • Analyze feedback and performance to identify gaps and prescribe any required corrective processes, and communicate next steps to the team.

 Have I made training a priority?

At VanillaSoft, we believe in making implementation of our sales engagement software as simple and pain-free as possible. That’s why I made a commitment to ensuring that training is not only part of our product footprint but core to our on-boarding processes. However, that doesn’t take all of the responsibility off the client.

Before you go live with a product, whether it has built-in training like VanillaSoft or not, you must ensure your team gets trained. Try setting expectations like these when it comes to training and on-boarding new users:

  •  When deploying new software, set up training times for all team members. If training is self-paced, set a deadline for members to complete training sessions.
  • Make training mandatory for new hires. Even with a system as easy-to-use as VanillaSoft, leaders must ensure new employees understand how to use the system.
  • Monitor users to identify coaching opportunities.
  • Schedule refresher courses and sessions to review new features when they roll out.

 While there is a lot more to change management, these are three essential areas that are often given short shrift. Remember: technology isn’t a magic bullet; it’s only as good as the users’ abilities to make the most of the given system. However, if you want that satisfying feeling of launching a new enterprise solution to last, you’ll be wise to invest in the change management necessary to ensure its success.


Parker 2018Genie Parker is an author on the SLMA Today Blog and recently named one of the 20 Women to Watch in Business by the Sales Lead Management Association. for 2018

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