Introducing new tech tools can save businesses time and money and can make operations so much more efficient, but this isn’t always without its challenges.
Making changes in a very traditional company can often be difficult and new systems mean new ways of working which in turn generates change resistance.
In this post, we’d like to give you some ideas to help you implement new systems in a traditional company and the good news is that these will work for any type of project.
Tip #1 - Get a high-level sponsor
The starting point has to be the recruitment of a sponsor who is working at the highest level in the company.
Now sometimes this may prove challenging in itself because executives can also be resistant to change so relate your project to the benefits for the organization and its customers.
Point out how using the best tools can reduce risk as well as ensuring that you don’t fall behind your competitors and make sure that you can show a fully documented project plan with risk-mitigation elements already in place.
Once people see that someone at the top table has endorsed your project then they are much more likely to take a positive view of your work.
Tip #2 - Communicate and educate
So much of change resistance is down to misunderstandings of what new tech will mean for your people.
The best way to avoid suspicion is to make sure you communicate with people and tell them why you are investing in tech, what it will mean for them and how it will make their lives better as a result.
Transparency is the key here as leaving people in the dark just invites rumour and speculation so keeping up communication throughout the project will ensure that there won’t be further misunderstandings along the way.
Remember also that communication doesn’t have to be all one-way. Research shows that employees who are involved in the decision-making process are more motivated, satisfied and engaged in their jobs, so make sure you listen to feedback and thank people for taking the time to get involved.
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Tip #3 Stage your implementation
One of the most unnerving features of a project for a traditional company is the sudden arrival of new tech for staff to get to grips with.
Staging your implementation so that your new tech tools are introduced gradually to the organization is a good way of showing people that there’s nothing to fear.
Think about rolling out your tech by department or, if possible, adopting features gradually, only moving processes to the new system once everyone is happy that things have bedded down correctly.
Implementing tech in this way does take longer but overall you are likely to get a better result, especially in a traditional company.
Tip #4 Enlist cheerleaders
People are very much influenced by their peers, so it is a good idea to search out staff at all levels and enlist them as cheerleaders for your project.
You can do this by inviting them to become testers for your system, seeking their feedback on the proposed changes and even making their position on the project team more formal.
Becoming part of the project team helps their personal development and gives them an early sight of the systems and how they can be used.
In return, when other staff members in their department become fearful of the changes, the cheerleaders can reassure them and help with any training and support needs.
Tip #5 Don’t ignore the old ways
It’s tempting to become over-enthusiastic and automatically assume that everything that is old is bad and all the new stuff is good but this isn’t always the case.
Sometimes things are done a certain way for a good reason so understanding why certain processes exist is important.
If there are very good operational reasons why things happen in certain ways and at certain times then look to integrate these within your new system. That way you will have the best of both worlds.
People will also see that the project isn’t change for change’s sake and become more accepting of new ideas.
Tip #6 Think about other stakeholders
If you are working with a traditional company you may find that they exist within a very conservative sector and their suppliers and customers are also traditional.
If this is the case then it is important to make sure that you don’t ignore the needs of other stakeholders and that you bring them along on your journey.
The key here is communication, explaining what you are doing and why and maybe even inviting them to learn from your project so that they can implement new tech themselves.
Tip #7 Be prepared to be pragmatic
It can be frustrating when you know the benefits that new tech can bring to an organization but executives just aren’t prepared to change wholesale.
The truth is that sometimes you simply have to be pragmatic and understand that in ultra-conservative organizations you may not get everything you want.
The trick here is to have faith in the quality of the system that you are implementing.
By just getting in the base system and having a few users you have your foot in the door and a few months down the line you may well start to see a remarkable change.
You’ll then have users who like the system and departments that are running more efficiently as a result.
Within the business, other people will start to take note and you’ll begin to see pressure from other managers that also want to benefit from new tech.
Users of the base system will also want to explore the other features that may be available to them and understand how they can benefit from a wider and deeper adoption.
Sometimes it’s better to get a little of what you want and then go back and develop your implementation in a second phase later on.
Implementation in traditional companies is all about people
Traditional companies do things in traditional ways. This means that they tend to be very heavy on manual processes which in turn means people.
One of the comments you will hear the most is that “we’ve always done it that way” and that signposts your biggest problem when implementing new systems with traditional companies.
Change can be scary, especially if you are not used to a world of projects and process improvement.
With businesses that are used to change and have a workforce with an agile frame of mind, implementing tech is all in a day’s work, but with a traditional company, you need to be a little more sophisticated in your approach.
Understanding people’s fears and uncertainty is important and building up good communications with staff at all levels will help in this regard.
Making sure you don’t ‘throw the baby out with the bathwater’ by keeping the good aspects of the traditional organization and marrying them up to the benefits of tech implementation is also a smart move.
When you are looking at bringing in new tech tools to a traditional organization, understanding the dynamics of change resistance means that you can develop ways to introduce the systems to people and gain full acceptance.
Learn how to create a tech stack fit for your finance team.
We’ve produced two excellent resources to help you begin to make the change to a digital future.
In the first, our on-demand masterclass, we look at how new tech tools can help refine your decision making processes and the benefits that can come from this. Access the webinar here.
The second resource, an on-demand panel discussion looks at how you can organize your finance department in the digital age and examines the real-world benefits of digitizing the finance department and how new tech tools can drive real ROI benefits. Check out the discussion here.