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How Leaders Prioritize Software: A Guide for Business Decision Makers

How Leaders Prioritize Software: A Guide for Business Decision Makers

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By Joshua Genuth

In today’s world of digital technology and virtual communication, change is constant. It can cause fatigue in employees and managers who once again need to reorganize their entire workday to accommodate a new disruption. 

Whether it’s reminding everyone to clock in their work hours, shifting to more virtual meetings, or adapting to brand new software, resistance can arise when busy employees have to integrate the unfamiliar into the comfortably familiar. 

When prioritizing which new software to implement in an organization, it is up to organization leaders to select the right tools, navigate potential pitfalls, and facilitate a smooth transition.

How to prioritize decision making 

Businesses introduce new software for a variety of reasons. It may be due to an internal need or specific pain points that require a more streamlined, time-efficient or cost-effective solution than the previous system. Visionary organizations and their leaders might prioritize these decisions based on potential ROI, upgrading to broader capabilities, innovation in the marketplace, or desire to serve a new market segment. 

External factors can also create the need for prioritization. These might include phasing out specific software, updated requirements from government or regulatory bodies, or our current situation of a global pandemic causing companies to operate remotely with almost no advance notice.

Credit: Smartsheet

These various prioritization methods are not necessarily mutually exclusive. In fact, it is worthwhile for executives to explore the options from all perspectives, recognizing the benefits in each approach when it comes to adoption, implementation, and onboarding. Responding to ‘on the ground’ needs helps employees when a system is more to their benefit, and can eliminate repetitive processes and give them more time to focus on creative work.

Implementing ROI-based software changes for the long-term benefit of the company can be met with disappointment by staff who are required to study, train, and eventually work day-to-day with an unfamiliar solution. In every scenario, proper onboarding, training, and troubleshooting is integral for ensuring long-term adoption and sidestepping pitfalls

The challenge of onboarding employees to new software

The aviation industry is known for working with older computer systems, desktop applications, and offline workarounds. Simultaneously they manage a complex web of stakeholders, from luggage check-in to air traffic control. Southwest Airlines embarked on a digital transformation process that covered every area of its operations. They had to accommodate a longer learning process for otherwise highly skilled employees who previously had been accustomed to logbooks, radios and whiteboards. 

Sephora, the global cosmetic leader, created a dedicated ‘innovation lab’ for the rollout of new software applications that focused on in-store promotions, customer loyalty, and AR makeup tutorials. Their employees trained at the aptly-named Sephora University both during onboarding and new software launches. 

Credit: Fast Company

The challenge of servicing a variety of employees in multiple locations, with different learning styles and across a range of job functions, adds to the complexity of implementing new software. It requires detailed consideration when prioritizing the rollout of new software during a digital transformation. Utilizing a digital adoption platform offers the ability to adapt to various users in their learning process, provides guidance across apps and workflows from other areas of the organization, and emphasizes contextual learning.

The benefits of software prioritization

In an assessment of enterprise businesses, 44% anticipated an increase in budget for software in 2020 (estimated before the sudden need for virtual working conditions due to COVID-19). The reasons for new software implementation can range from updating outdated infrastructure to responding to security needs or irregular global events. 

Prioritizing software by analyzing current usage enables a more efficient rollout of new software solutions. It also aids in the continual optimization of existing procedures by providing training updates on an ongoing basis.

These measures ensure smooth onboarding for employees who may take longer to feel comfortable with new software or understand the latest feature updates. Investing in new software solutions is an integral decision that should be measured for its ROI not only financially, but also in usage efficiency and integration.

Employees need to have a say

When US electricity and gas company National Grid launched a new SAP one week after Hurricane Sandy, it was beset with problems. There were negative impacts almost immediately on employees in the form of major payroll mishaps that included $6m in overpayments and $12m in settlements to employees for short payments. This extreme example illustrates the intensified challenge of new software rollouts without the cooperation of employees. These employees have no information about the potential benefits, but immediately experience unwanted changes to their daily work schedule or worse — their paycheck. 

When digital transformation comes across as a general disruption with no apparent benefits or purpose, it is more likely to be ignored by employees, limiting adoption and resulting in eventual failure.

Articulating the rollout’s overall goal, long-term vision, and projected value to the organization means involving employees in the process. This will add to their enthusiasm and buy-in to the sometimes dreary training and onboarding process. It may be helpful to incorporate existing front-line employees into this process, inviting them to discuss the flaws of previous systems with other team members in cross-functional teams. 

Finally, it’s important to be understanding and compassionate towards employees during the challenging transition period. Managers who show empathy in the workplace can improve employee job performance simply by augmenting the process with good listening skills, soliciting feedback, and continually updating the training program accordingly. 

Investing in a Digital Adoption Platform

Selecting a Digital Adoption Platform (DAP) can help navigate the pitfalls of digital transformation by streamlining frequent software updates and ensuring the flexibility to add new software in the future. Leaders who invest in DAP showcase concern not only for overall ROI, but for organizational learning and making software easier for their employees to use and adopt.

Utilizing digital adoption solutions will both reduce employee apathy or reluctance (making the transition simple and painless) and ensure continued growth. DAP allows for the onboarding of additional unforeseen software solutions, seamlessly and without interruption.

In an increasingly digital world, as people are working remotely and more reliant on technology, a digital adoption platform gives visibility into company-wide software usage. Business leaders can see which platforms are used and how; giving those in charge the tools to leverage this information to make sound decisions when it comes to software prioritization and spending.

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Joshua Genuth
Josh is a content writer with a diverse focus on consumer tech, marketing platforms and strategy, and SaaS startups. His background in PR strategy and content yielded him an up-close engagement with the dynamic Israeli startup scene, which has continued to be his muse and passion.