Project Management, Leadership, Operational System of Record, Professional Services Automation

8 Steps for Introducing Your Team to a New Project Management Software Solution

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Implementing new project management software can be challenging and exciting. This tool can not only help increase data and tracking in your projects but can also maximize efficiency, resources, and margins.

To reap the benefits of your new project management software, your team first needs to have full buy-in and commitment to its use. This makes the initial introduction of the software to your team integral to your project management software success.

How to Introduce Your Team to New Project Management Software

Are you preparing your team for new software? With some strategic conversations and intentional buy-in, you can help ensure that your project management software implementation is a success.

Step 1 – Talk about it early and often

You never want to blindside your team with new project management software. Make sure they know new software coming as early as possible (even before you determine which software to purchase).

It can also help to get team members’ feedback on features they’d like to see in the software. These conversations can help warm them up to the idea of a new software solution while getting them excited about the new functionality. It can also help them get more organized in preparation for the software migration.

Step 2 – Refocus feedback from your team

It can be tempting to ask for feedback from your team before you pull the trigger, but this is usually a mistake. That’s because while you may be able to get your team to agree upon the functionality they’d like to see, it’s almost impossible to get them to agree on which tool will be best for the job.

Instead of feedback, you’re more likely to get a “soft pass” plus an additional recommendation or two from each person on the team. This decreases ultimate buy-in for whatever software you eventually decide on and the probability of successful integration.

Instead, ask your team members ahead of time which features they’d most like to see. You can also offer them a list of potential features to rank in order of importance. Let them know you’ll use that feedback to find the right project management software for the team.

Step 3 – Involve the main influencers in the final demos

Once you’re close to making your decision, invite your managers to participate in the final two to three product demos and help make a decision from there. Buy-in from leadership and influencers is important to successfully implement your new project management software, and having an educated say in the final decision can help fuel their buy-in.

Resist the urge to send these individuals links to your final three choices. This minimizes the importance of the decision and runs the risk of receiving snap judgment opinions. If you’re worried about taking up too much time with product demos, ask the person doing the demo to shorten the demo to 10 or 15 minutes for these stakeholders.

Step 4 – Assign two to three “In-House Experts” to get to know the software

Assign two to three ready and eager people on the team to become in-house experts on your new project management software. This can be an important step for not only achieving buy-in from your team, but having in-house support also helps the transition go more smoothly. As experts for the new project management software, these individuals can help the implementation process by answering questions that your team members may not otherwise have reached out to support to ask.

Step 5 – Have the basics set up before introducing it to the team

The setup process for a new project management tool can be time consuming. Having basics in place, such as team member logins, project information, client information, etc., before introducing the software to the team can help things go more smoothly. It will make the integration process seem less daunting and will also provide real-world examples for your demo/training instead of hypothetical ones.

Step 6 – Make sure everyone receives appropriate training

Each member of your team likely has different levels of comfort with technology and differing abilities for learning new software. Tailor training experiences based on the comfort level of your employees. Some may prefer to attend a web-based training with a support rep or a detailed in-house training session with one of your advocates. Others may prefer to watch a couple of online tutorials then explore the software themselves.

Whatever the method, what’s most important is ensuring each employee gets some form of real training. This helps to create positive first interactions, enables them to more effectively use the tools, and helps them to hit the ground running.

Step 7 – Make sure it is a true replacement for the team’s existing tools

Make sure your new software is an ample replacement for whatever tools your team currently uses to manage similar tasks. If a team member doesn’t feel that the software fulfills his or her needs, they’re more likely to continue relying on their old project management methods instead of making the switch.

Step 8 – Allow a “sunset period” with the previous tool

It’s important to fully detach from the previous tool(s), but not immediately and not without warning. It can take time to fully move all of the information over and to migrate to the new system. It can also take time for your team to adjust.

However, as much as it’s important to allow time for adjustment, it’s equally important to have a hard stop date. With advanced warning, your employees can adjust and transfer information without feeling rushed. They are also less likely to hang around in the old system for their own convenience.

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