Change rarely comes easily, especially for well-established companies. When the change involves new software or new processes, it may even be met with resistance. This leaves many companies behind the curve, unable to embrace the ideas and tools they need to grow and be competitive.

If you happen to search out advice on how to introduce change to your company, like new software or processes, you’ll often find overly complex rollout plans. These plans are more suited to large organizations, including steps that just don’t apply to small to mid-sized companies. Fortunately, you can use a far less complicated implementation strategy that’s designed to match your company’s unique needs by following these simple steps.

Before you Begin

People react to change quite differently, from embracing it to fighting it. You have to understand where your team is on this scale if you want to successfully implement anything new, from internal processes to software. For the most part, you’ll find that people are either champions, early adopters or late adopters. Champions get on board early, while the late adopters require more time and help to see the benefits of change.

Once you understand the makeup of the people in your company, you can create an implementation plan that matches. For instance, if you have key employees in the late adaptor category, you’ll want to spend a bit more time discussing the “why we are doing this” rather than focusing on the “how we are going to do it”.

What, Why, How

People will undoubtedly have questions when you announce that you’re making a change. You can reduce resistance by answering these questions upfront. In fact, your team will get on board far quicker if you answer “what, why and how” at the same time that you introduce the change.

What problem are you fixing? Make sure that you can sum up the problem in a short and simple statement. You will lose support if you don’t make the problem clear and easy to understand.

Why does it need to be fixed? Show the impact of the problem and the benefits of fixing it. Be sure to show how the proposed change  will solve the problem.

How will you roll out the change? A flowchart or visual can help illustrate how existing systems and processes may be affected. If you’re introducing new software, identify who will oversee the installation, discuss how training will be handled and offer a timeline.

Different audiences will require different levels of information. For instance, those most affected by the change will want to know how it alters their daily work, while leadership will want to know the costs involved. Keep this in mind as you prepare to introduce the change to various groups within your company.

Introducing change

In small to mid-sized companies, problems and solutions are often identified by internal experts and department leaders. This is particularly true for updating policies, procedures, and processes.  For issues involving technology, problems are identified internally but outside experts are often needed to find solutions. This is especially true for companies without internal technical support.

Once the decision has been made to introduce new software or processes, you can use the following path to roll it out to your organization:

  1. Identify your “change team”:   You will need a small group of champions that embrace change for a successful rollout. If you are introducing new software, try and included your technical expert and at least one member of leadership.

  2. Introduce the solution to leadership: Your change team should present the solution to key decision makers. Be sure to include detailed information regarding what the problem is, why it needs to be solved and how you propose to solve it. You need to include the cost, a practical timeline and information on how training will be handled.

  3. Introduce the solution to the organization: When you introduce the solution to the organization as a whole, focus on the benefits of making the change. Include practical information on how it will impact their daily work and offer a timeline. Make sure to provide details on training so that your team knows they’ll have the support they need for the transition.

  4. Offer training/guidance where applicable: Make training a priority so that your entire organization feels confident about the transition. Give people plenty of time to get used to the new workflow, ask questions and get answers. This should happen long before the change is fully implemented, and it should include multiple opportunities and methods. (i.e. On-hands training, a video how-to, a guide to read through)

  5. Roll out the software/processes: Even if you have sent out a timeline, send out a reminder before the official launch or start date. Make sure your change team is standing by and ready to answer questions and solve problems. You should document any issues that arise so that future roll outs go even more smooth.

It’s important to remember that how you handle change today impacts how your organization views change in the future. By creating a plan that’s designed to fit the unique dynamics of your company, you’ll ensure a smoother transition. In turn this will help your company become more flexible and embrace future changes.

The material presented here is educational in nature and is not intended to be, nor should be relied upon, as legal or financial advice. Please consult with an attorney or financial professional for advice.