10 Do’s + 3 Don’ts of Launching a New System Initiative

Kat Bourgeois
Posted: July 6, 2016

For some people, these three words don’t even have to be connected to be scary: new – computer – system. Together, they can bring chills to even the most stalwart employee. New system launches demand a change management plan. And, of course, that plan must include learning the new system.

Working on launching a new system initiative and a change management plan? Click to see our Do's and Don'ts of how to make sure it's a success.

Here’s my take on how to ease the pain of launching a new system:

1. Start early and brand the initiative

Ask the communications team to create and post some teasers around “What if you could…?” or “What will you do with the 30 minutes a day you’ll save with…?” Don’t give too much away too soon but begin with benefits. Place a display in a central location but keep it covered until the “big reveal”. Create a fun contest around naming the new system. Use the same colors, style and tone throughout the initiative.  (This includes the learning materials.)

2. Get leaders and managers involved

Host a virtual “field day” with team challenges to help managers build team spirit around the new system.  Have company leaders award “camp” ribbons for winning teams.  If there are glitches in the system, ask leaders to get them out in the open and commit to quick fixes.

3. Use multiple methodologies

Provide (manned?) stations around the campus for learning about the system.  Add a practice “game” to teach shortcuts at the stations. Host “field trips” to the computer room for teams to learn the system. Use “step-by-step posters around the room to communicate teach particularly challenging applications. Create two-minute how-to videos or podcasts accessed by mobile phones.

4. Make it fun

It’s all in the attitude. How about a picture of the CEO staring at the computer monitor with a puzzled look while an IT team member dressed and posed like Superman stands ready to help?  Or a Friday when everyone dresses up like their favorite part of the new system?

5. Do some storytelling

It’s difficult for employees to hang back when others around them are progressing forward. Your employees need to hear how others are benefiting.  Ask the previously trained team to share their experience with the next team to be trained and on down the line. Post a case study on how the Human Resources team used the new system to solve a productivity problem. Establish a multi-departmental team to conduct a “road show” from department to department as the system rolls out.

6. Find the IT Champion

The IT guys are not typically known for speaking in a language everyone can understand.  Nor are they known for their gregariousness. But, I’ve learned over many years of technology launches, that every team has such a person. Make her a star!  Interview him in a podcast as if he were the lead in a new movie. Use her image, or a fun caricature of her, in the training materials. It just makes the whole initiative more personal.

7. Man a hotline; build an FAQ site with a robust search feature

If new users know they can get help right away, they will be more willing to try new system features. Subscribe new users to a “tip of the day” for the first 30 days.

8. Adopt the “early adopters”

These people are your new best friends. You may have influence in the classroom, but they are the ones that will do a lot of teaching “on the floor”. The power of the “early adopter” is not founded on their seniority or status in the company; it’s founded on their patience in working through technology challenges. Why? Because they love “new stuff”.  They like the bells and whistles of a new computer system in the same way that others like the “new car smell”.

How to harness that power? Ask them to blog about the new system on the company intranet. Ask them to travel around (the company, the office, the territory) demonstrating the new system. People love to learn from peers.

9. Celebrate success

Start with as many milestones as you can possibly justify. Then celebrate along the way.  The first team learns the new system.  Celebrate. The system finally rolls out. Celebrate. You get the idea!

10. Reward “power users”

Got an employee who contributes frequently to the forum on the new system or who has helped others on their team? Create a flag or or a balloon or other visible sign that can be attached to a cubicle or affixed to an employee’s nameplate.

What not to do?

  • Any new computer system worth your money and time deserves a thoughtful rollout.  Don’t skimp on the learning effort.
  • Don’t miss the natural partnership of learning and engagement.  One rarely occurs in a business environment without the other. (Maybe the same is true in any environment?)
  • Lastly, don’t let the learning aspect of a new system discourage you from moving forward. You can do this. And so can your employees.

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