Whether you are launching new software internally or to external partners or just migrating to a new system, it is a good idea to prepare for some of the challenges you may meet when communicating this to your supply base and internal stakeholders:
- What does it involve?
- Who will be involved?
- What are the goals or benefits you expect as a result of the change?
- Where can your users go for support?
When implementing any new system, all stakeholders need to be in sync. A good project manager is essential but the path to success can also lie in a well thought out and structured communications plan.
Here are some of my top tips to consider when preparing your communications plan for a new software launch or a transition to a new system.
1. Leadership buy-in
It may sound obvious that a new system or software needs leadership team or top management involvement, but in order to inspire and build credibility with all your stakeholders, buy-in is crucial. These people drive the opinion and culture internally and externally for your organisation and something as simple as using a senior person’s name as the sender or signature within your email campaigns can have significant impact, ensuring your communications are having the desired effect and engaging with your stakeholders.
Great support is essential to a good user experience. I would always recommend using one or more of the following support methods:
- Email (24hrs a day seven days a week)
- Telephone (During office hours)
- Live Chat (During office hours)
At a minimum ‘walk the floor’ and ask people how it’s going, get their immediate feedback and help them along the way. It’s important to always remember the basic rule of providing support for users of a new system: treat your customers how you would wish to be treated. If you bear this in mind you shouldn’t go far wrong.
A common mistake when launching or moving to a new system is that a super-user and project manager are one and the same. A super-user should be the person within your organisation who is assigned as the ‘ambassador’ of your new system. When others in your organisation have problems or need support, this is the internal person to go to. This person is also often the point of contact for your supply base as well.
4. Start with a BANG!
Internal communications in this instance is sometimes underestimated, but when implementing a new system, you need to sell it to your colleagues and stakeholders. Schedule emails about the system and its launch, have a link or notice on your intranet giving more information, create a poster, or host an internal launch party. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, but something to mark the launch and create a buzz will go a long way.
We are all different; some people get a kick out of using a new system and start to engage straight away, others may be sceptical towards a new way of working. The project manager should have strategies to handle both user groups. You can choose classroom training, e-learning or webinars. You could also include an introduction to your system in the internal training program for new employees. New employees will then, from the start, be on the right track.
Make sure you listen to all user feedback. You can do this by embedding feedback links in both your system and email communications. Remember, communications are not just for ‘selling’ a new system but are also about education and soliciting feedback from your users. Even if suggested changes cannot be implemented straight away, it’s important to respond. Not only does listening to feedback help you to ensure your system is working effectively, it also demonstrates to your users that their complaints and concerns are being heard and that you are on their side.
Something like a ‘Surgery Session’ is a great way to invite and answer any questions or queries from your users. I have used this approach when implementing new benchmark testing and panel management processes as part of our UBX baseHUB solution. These sessions are designed to help you get a better understanding of the system’s functionality and work directly with the end users.
Keep the end goal in mind
It may seem like a lot of hard work to implement a new system and way of working, and indeed it is. The key thing to focus on is the end goal and the benefits that your organisation and the end users will reap from the new system. You decided to make the move for a reason!
If you would like to find out more about how S4RB can help you to develop and execute new ways of working both within your organisation and with your suppliers, get in touch.
Find out how implementation of a new supplier self-help portal changed the way that this major UK grocery retailer worked with their suppliers, saving them an estimated £180,000 a year.