Implementing new project management software can be challenging, especially in a fast-growing company. Team members are accustomed to tracking projects using their own methods or by using simpler tools that no longer fulfill the company’s needs, and may be resistant to change.
Successful adoption of project management software can not only increase team productivity, but can also have a positive impact on revenues and margins.
Below are seven tips for minimizing resistance and maximizing success with project management software.
Some of the biggest factors for successfully adopting project management software are understanding the reason for the change, feeling comfortable and confident with the software, and being confident in buy-in from leaders and other team members.
1. Help Your Team Members Learn their Way Around the Software
Make sure everyone who will be using the project management software can attend a training call, is trained by an in-house expert, or has access to training videos and support from the project management software team.
Your team members’ first interactions with the project management software will have a huge impact on whether or not the software is successfully adopted. If your team members quickly become frustrated or overwhelmed with the software, they will resist full integration in favor of their previous methods of time tracking and task management.
Use tools and resources provided by your project management software integration team to make those first introductions go as smoothly as possible. If your customer success manager offers training calls or walk-throughs, attend them and have your team attend as well.
While many individuals are capable and willing to teach themselves or “figure it out,” participating in an actual software training helps eliminate frustration. It empowers the team members to better utilize more complicated aspects of the tools, and also significantly increases the likelihood of successful adoption.
2. Choose 2 or 3 Employees to Become Your Resident Experts
Choosing two or three employees to become experts in the software means you’ll have in-house support for troubleshooting and training other team members. It also means you’ll have individuals who can help analyze which additional features may be beneficial to your team.
Having two to three of these individuals creates a pool of experts for your employees to reach out to with questions or problems. It also means they can build their knowledge together, ensuring a more accurate representation of the product and analysis of its additional features.
3. Require Full Adoption of the Software
One mistake some companies make is using a project management software only for specific tasks or projects. The problem with this comes down to habit formation. It’s easier to replace an old habit (such as tracking tasks on a spreadsheet or a paper planner) with a new one (such as using a project management solution) than it is to create an entirely new habit.
If a team member continues to use other methods to track additional tasks outside the project management software, it will be statistically more difficult for team members to fully adopt the new project management software. This is because logging into the software will be an additional step in their daily routine as opposed to a replacement step.
Make sure your employees understand that adoption of your project management software is required and that previous project management tracking tools will be phased out.
4. Start Slowly When Possible
The best project management software will have enough tools and functionality to consolidate all of your planning, data, collaboration, and reporting across teams and contributors. However, it can sometimes be overwhelming for existing team members to adopt all of the features right out of the gate. If you have an intact team migrating to new project management software, it can help improve uptake to ask them to start using only one or two features at a time.
Consider an extended rollout. Start with simple features such as task assignment and tracking for six to eight weeks. Then add in standards for file sharing, collaboration, client feedback, and more as the team becomes more comfortable with the new tool.
This technique is most useful when a company is growing quickly and updating operations for better scalability and business intelligence.
5. Reinforce Implementation During Meetings & Check-Ins
In order for a project management software to be successfully adopted, your team members need to feel full buy-in from their leaders. One of the most important ways to reinforce this is by using the tool during meetings and check-ins. Use it to reference progress, timelines, and expectations.
One of the biggest roadblocks in adoption is employees who prefer the “old ways to the new ways.” These individuals will often hope that new software will lose steam so the team can move back to their previous method of tracking. In these cases, it’s especially important to make sure senior leaders and team members have full buy-in and use the software regularly in their interactions and check-ins.
6. Avoid Duplicating Efforts
Whenever possible, add tasks, adjust timelines, or make changes to budget directly in the project management software immediately as it’s discussed. This not only reinforces adoption of the project management software, but also ensures you’re not duplicating efforts, such as writing it down on a scrap of paper then adding it into the software later. It also helps prevent team members from defaulting to their previous method of task/information management.
7. Discuss the Benefits
It is difficult for a team to put in the time and mental energy to adopt new software if they don’t understand the need for the change. Before, during, and after implementation, it is important to talk about why and how this software will positively benefit the company.
An employee is willing to work harder to adopt a project management solution if he or she knows that doing so will have a positive impact on the business.
Making the Most of Project Management
Project managerment software plays a crucial role in improving your company's profitability. Learn more in our ebook, "5 Steps to More Profitable Projects."