So you’re ready to invest in talent management software, anticipating the improved efficiency and information it will deliver to your organization. But that investment may not yield the return you expect if your employees don’t get onboard and actually use the new software.
What can you do to ensure a successful implementation? Here are 5 steps:
1. Involve users in the requirements setting
When you’re determining your organization’s requirements with respect to features, functionality and integration, make sure you consult a representative sample of your users (managers, employees, recruiters, succession managers, learning and development specialists, HR generalists and specialists, executives, etc.) to find out what they think they need.
While HR will certainly be heavy users of the software, it’s your employees and managers who need to be most committed to its adoption. So get some of them involved in identifying the day to day work and management requirements and challenges the new talent management software will need to address.
For example, you may find managers and employees want remote or mobile access for some specific tasks, or that they need easy access to your learning catalog both during performance review discussions and as part of their ongoing manager/employee interactions. Or you might find that your IT group has particular data security requirements that must be met.
You might even want to open up the scope and invite all employees to submit “wish list” items via email or some other means that a smaller team can then use as input when determining the final requirements for the software.
By inviting users to identify their needs and provide input to the requirements setting, you not only get a more comprehensive view of your organization’s needs so you can ensure they are met, you help to build buy-in for the purchase in advance. You make the whole requirements setting process more visible and accessible to employees, and let them see in a tangible way how their needs are being considered.
2. Involve a cross-section of users in the vendor/software selection process
Once you’ve set your requirements and are ready to begin product/vendor evaluations and selection, involve a cross-section of users from across the organization to participate in the process.
This more collegial approach to the selection process will help you ensure the selected product/vendor will in fact meet the needs of the various groups, departments and users in the organization, and that no group is forgotten or overlooked.
It also helps ensure a sampling of employees from across the organization better understand what is available in terms of talent management software, and , if applicable, what compromises may need to be made and why. Later on, these employees can become “product champions” for the implementation.
Let all your employees know who’s involved in the selection process, and invite them to speak to selection team members about any questions, concerns, ideas or previous experience they have.
3. Cultivate “product champions” in all strategic areas & involve them in the implementation process
Another key step to ensuring employees across the organization get on board with your new talent management software is to cultivate “product champions” in all areas of the organization.
Product champions are first and foremost employees who are ready to embrace the change and help the organization move forward. If you engage these people in the implementation process — as test users or people you consult with questions — you build their knowledge and engagement with the software so they become social influencers for others.
You might consider rolling out the software to these employees first, providing them with additional training so they can help support other employees in their group/departments, or even involving them in delivering training to their teams.
However you choose to involve them in the implementation, leverage their enthusiasm and “early adopter” mentality to encourage other employees to be enthusiastic users of the new software as well.
4. Test before you launch
Thoroughly testing your new talent management software, process and forms is another vital step to ensuring successful user adoption.
The last thing you want to do is discourage new users with small problems or glitches; it’s easy to make a bad first impression, and hard to recover from it. So make sure you conduct thorough user testing, for every area, to make sure your launch and rollout run smoothly.
Involving users from each area and particularly your product champions can be helpful. You want them to pay attention to the details; and everyone will bring a different perspective, making it more likely that you’ll catch any problems before you make the new software available to the organization as a whole.
5. Provide extensive training and support
Finally, don’t forget to provide extensive training and support to all your employees. Regardless of how easy or intuitive the user interface, it’s important for users to be given an introduction to the new software.
Ideally, training should include a combination of leader-led training or elearning, as well as job aids and reference materials. Different people learn at different paces and have different learning styles, so it’s important to provide a variety of learning modalities.
And don’t overlook the importance of refresher training or more in-depth training down the road to encourage ongoing engagement and use of your new software. It’s easy to forget how to do tasks that you only complete on occasion or to miss details in your initial training because of information overload.
And make it simple for users to get help or support, both in the early days and going forward. Here you can often leverage your product champions as local experts who provide first line support to users.
Communicate, communicate, communicate – the business needs that drove this purchase, the benefits you expect it to deliver to the organization and the employees, the implementation timeline, key project milestones, the availability of training and support, the actual ROI and benefits it’s delivering, any problems encountered and how they’re being resolved, etc.
Let employees and managers know why you’re purchasing the software, what’s in it for them and for the organization, what they can expect and what’s expected of them. When people feel “left in the dark,” they disengage and sometimes rebel; they’re much more likely to accept change when they have information about the “who, what, where, when, why and how”.
Provide a vehicle for employees to ask questions, raise challenges and submit suggestions — then reply to all submissions. This is about opening up a dialog with employees and giving them a voice. We’re all more likely to be engaged when we feel considered and involved than if something is simply presented to us or handed down to us from management.
These 5 simple steps can make a big difference in user acceptance and adoption rates – both of which impact the ultimate success of your talent management software implementation. Unless your managers’ and employee’ needs are being met by the new software, and unless they feel involved, considered and supported in the whole implementation, they’re not likely to be enthusiastic users, let alone fans of your new tool. And it’s only by their using it fully that your managers, HR team and executives can get the information they need to better manage your workforce.