Resistance to change is a very real aspect that an organization should take into account when the decision to implement any new tool or system is made. Getting your project team onboard with a new project management tool or an entirely new project management software altogether can be a difficult task.
Transition is always hard, regardless of the magnitude of change. However, you’ve probably spent hours demoing and researching different tools to see which one would be able to use in order to get rid of an existing problem with the present way of doing things.
But what good is investing in a new project management software if your team ends up being unable to adapt to it? This is why proper implementation of your new project management tool is more important than you think.
If you want the time and monetary investment to pay off, here are some tips to consider for the successful implementation of your new project management tool:
1- Have a Solid Communication Plan
Pretty basic right? But it’s easier said than done. Reportedly, 57% of projects fail due to breakdowns in communication. If communication practices were perfect everywhere, project management would be much easier. That said the focus is often on communication between the team and the external stakeholders/sponsors as opposed to that between the team members.
When it comes to implementation of a new PM tool, the, a well-defined communication plan should be firmly in place. Moreover, the leadership should be capable of making the team members understand and reinforce why the new tools has been chosen.
The problems with the previous system/tool must be clearly addressed. The Project Manager should discuss at length the pros and cons of implementing the solution with the team members, as they will be the ones who will be using the new solution.
2- Provide Adequate Training
Your new PM solution might claim to be intuitive and may indeed have a low learning curve for users who are familiar with that kind of tool or previous versions of the same tool. However, this does not mean that you should skip training for the new tool. All your team members could have varying levels of previous exposure to the new tool, as such it is best to avoid a one-size-fits-all kind of training for the PM tool in question.
Give your team members the option for training beyond a formal classroom-style training. Also give them adequate time to get acquainted with the new tool and to learn their way around it. Continuously review their comfort level with the software and encourage feedback to identify the learning gaps that arise. Feedback from the team members/end-users will not only bring forth useful suggestions but will also help you to gauge how well the implementation process is coming along.
3- Advocate for Support from Higher Management
This ties in with the first point, higher management should make the time to engage with team members and assure them that the new tool will make things more efficient for everyone involved. The leadership should be a good enough communicator to demonstrate to the team how they would benefit from the change.
A number of project document management system implementation processes tend to fail because of non-committal higher management. You don’t want your new system to suffer the same fate. Get higher management on board and get them to truly sponsor the implementation.
4- Consider appointing a Designated Expert
Even if the new tool/system provides 24/7 support, it might be a good idea to appoint a designated expert to oversee the team’s progress with adapting to the new system. You don’t have to spend unnecessarily and get an external expert. One of the team members could be the designated expert.
If one of your team members has shown an aptitude for quick learning and adaptation to new systems before, he/she could be your resident expert. All he/she would have to do is put in a few weeks of devoted learning through webinars or tutorials, going through the tool’s knowledge-base and other related resources, etc. Better yet if they are in a non-IT role.
It would be much easier and more convenient for other team members to consult their co-worker rather than calling up support and speaking to a stranger or waiting for an email for them. It is cheaper, quicker, and more efficient for your organization to have one of your own overseeing the usage of the new solution and checking in with the team members regarding their understanding of the new tool.
5- Have a Contingency Plan
Despite your best efforts, implementation of the new solution might still cause some serious bottlenecks. You, as a project manager, need to have appropriate contingency plans in place in order to successfully move past these bottlenecks.
Have multiple copies of your data in case there’s a chance of data loss during migration to the new system. Similarly, arrange for a temporary backup system just in case there happens to be significant downtime in implementation.
Basically, any issues that could arise with implementing the new tool, you should have a backup plan for. The project team’s efficiency should not have to suffer too much for the successful implementation of a new system, no matter what benefits it might entail.
The Bottom Line
These are the basics than any good team-oriented implementation plan for a new project management tool should ideally contain. There might be technical roadblocks in the implementation process, but if these basics are taken care of, you and your team will have a much easier time adapting to the new processes and getting on track with your projects.