Change can either inspire people or be a source of dread. Introducing new technology comes with its own challenges and opportunities, and so we asked Julie Matkin, one of our resident Teamwork.com Customer Support experts, for her top tips on introducing new technology into a team. Julie works directly with our customers and says that there are some common themes when new technology is not properly introduced.
“There are a series of steps that you can take to make the transition to new technology as easy as possible. Firstly, do you know what the core issues are and what the new technology needs to do? Do your research, choose your new technology wisely, and then plan out how it will be introduced. For example, if your team is in the middle of a project with a tight deadline, that might not be the right time to change things. Be open with your about the changes that are coming and give plenty of room for feedback”.
Below is a sample 13-point plan that will help guide you through the various stages of introducing new technology into a team.
 
Choosing new technology for your company | Teamwork.com High Performance Blog

Part 1: Research

1. Define the core issues
Do you know what the core issues are? Are the issues even something that software can fix or are they behavioral and could be better solved by defining better practices? The best way to answer these questions is to get feedback from a wide range of users.
This is best done through:

  • surveys
  • focus groups
  • 1-to-1 interviews.

At this stage just listen to what is being said. Afterwards, sit down and see if any common themes appear. For example, if you are working for a web design agency and you find your team are consistently missing deadlines, you need to figure out what’s behind this. Is it because staff cannot easily find the most recent version of a design? Or they miss feedback sent via email? Or is it because some staff focus on perfection at all costs?
2. Rank issues from most critical to least important
Once you know what your core issues are, rank them from the most critical to the least important.  You need to be absolutely clear on what the most critical issue is in the organization. This will help filter out all of the unsuitable tools and will allow you to compare features like for like. Once you have done this, you are then in a strong and informed position to start researching all the possible options.
3. Research
With your list of critical issues, start researching what products are out there. A Google search and review sites are the best places to start. Look carefully at the features of each product, and the pricing scale. At this stage, keep asking “How well will it solve my most important core issues?” Also, look at what training is required. Are there manuals to read or a few online videos? Think of all the reasons why someone in your organization wouldn’t like it, and decide if any of those reasons are show stoppers or not.
4. Create a short list of possible products
Next, create a shortlist of possible products to trial. Don’t rule anything in or out at this stage, just pilot your shortlist and see what the feedback is like.
5. Choose your product
During the pilot stage, listen carefully to all feedback. How user-friendly was each product and did it solve your core issues? At this stage, it should be clear if there is one outright leader, but if a few of the products are all receiving great feedback, your choice could be swayed by price. Don’t be put off getting in touch with the Sales team and doing some negotiation – you could get the product that you love and stay within in budget.
 
Technology rollout plan | Teamwork.com High Performance Blog

Part 2: Roll Out – how to ensure quick, easy and painless adoption

Congratulations, you are now ready to roll out your carefully chosen product. “Phew”, you say to yourself, “Now that the hard part is over, let’s get everyone up and running!” But as the success of the roll out will be measured by the level of engagement and how comfortable people are using the new software, this stage will require you to be a blend between a PR guru and a Learning and Development professional.
6. Choose influencers, not early adopters to pilot
By choosing the right people to pilot, it can make the path to implementation a lot easier. Look at who in your organization is an influencer. According to a HBR report, “You want people who are able to work horizontally across the organisation and who have good communication and networking skills. It’s most important not that early adopters adopt, but that influencers adopt. Getting those folks on board early is critical”. This stage is critical and will allow for quicker and easier adoption further down the road.
7. What are your current processes
Before everyone starts using the tool, now is the perfect time to sit down and review all of your current communication channels, processes and systems.
For example, look at how and why your team uses email, spreadsheets and calendars and ask:

  • What is good about these tools
  • What is not working
  • How you can improve /implement it best with the new technology

Next, create a ‘Communication and Collaboration Protocol’. In their book, Committed Teams, authors Mario Moussa, Madeline Boyer and Derek Newberry outline what this should contain:

  • What do we need our tools to do?
  • As an individual, what is your order of preference for method of contact (email, phone call, text, chat message)?
  • As a team, when do we use each tool?
  • What is our expectation for response times to emails, phone calls, texts, and chat messages?
  • What are our naming conventions for files and emails?

The ‘Communication and Collaboration Protocol’ will naturally develop, grow and change over time, but even getting a really simple document to introduce the new way of working will go a long way in helping a quick roll out.
8. Communicate – early and often
At the outset, clearly explain the reasons for the new technology and what the anticipated benefits are for everyone. Always seek to answer the “What’s in it for me” question. Also, be mindful that there might be some paranoia amongst your team, but clear facts and the “what’s in it for me” statement will help clear up any confusion or paranoia.
9. Be ready for “But, we’ve always done it this way!”
Be prepared to be hit with the phrase “But we’ve always done it this way” numerous times. In spite of our best efforts to embrace change, all change involves a loss and most people are quite attached to working on autopilot. It just makes life…easier. But don’t get disheartened. Keep a calm head, and have some strong statistics to back you up. For example, you could say “Each person in this company works across 50 spreadsheets and sends 5,000 emails a month on average each month, but we still miss key deadlines in spite of our best efforts. With this software, there is a better way to manage our time and tasks. We could finish on time every evening. Just imagine what that would be like.” Slowly but surely, you’ll chip away at the ‘autopilot says “No”’ mentality.
10. Customize training for everyone
Properly planned and well organized training will ensure a quicker adoption rate. However, we all have different learning styles: some people are visual learners – they love to see how to guides and watch videos, some people just want to dive straight in and learn by doing, and then some people will need more hands-on guidance and assistance. There is no one training method that will suit everyone in your organization, but you need to make sure that there is training for everyone. Ask everyone what their preferred method is, and give them time to learn in that way.
11. Listen, encourage feedback, act quickly – have a platform for feedback
There will always be feedback, both positive and negative. Have a platform where you can meet with everyone, or if you have virtual teams, have a place where they can send feedback. Listen to all feedback, acknowledge if you are having the same experience, and most importantly if there are issues, act quickly to resolve it. If you were to launch your own product tomorrow you would listen to every single piece of feedback from customers. Apply this thinking to internal launches.
 
Team working together| Teamwork.com High Performance Blog

Part 3: Continuously align to the new way

In the excellent book, Committed Teams, the authors advocate the use of ‘Goals, Roles and Norms’ as the foundation for great teamwork. They say that once the team has defined their goals and their roles, the final element is to define normal behavior. But most importantly if team members see that the team is deviating away from the agreed norms, the team needs to ‘close the gap’ and realign.
12. Don’t slip back to the old way of doing things
When there is new technology it can be easy to slip back into bad habits rather than to get accustomed to a new way of doing things. It’s up to team members to recognize if they or their colleagues slip back into the old way of doing things. For example, when using Teamwork Projects, instead of sending someone a document by email, create a task for that person instead. If you receive an email, ask for a task to be created instead. Simple steps like this can continuously help to realign to the new system.
13. You’re not on your own. Ask Support for help if you need it
Any good software product these days should have an excellent customer support team. If you have questions – either from your team, or just something that you can’t get to grips with, just ask the Customer Support team. They can point you in the right direction or explain something in a bit more detail. You’re not on your own with this new product, so never hesitate to get in touch.
Takeaway:
Not everyone will embrace change immediately, but with a bit of planning, open communication, and some subtle marketing techniques, the introduction of new technology can be a relatively smooth process. Always seek to answer the ‘What’s in it for me’ question, and you’ll conquer the vast majority of any opposition.
To make the rollout even easier, we have created a handy infographic and a downloadable, interactive pdf. Click here to download our infographic, and click here to download our interactive checklist.