How to make the transition to a new management tool

Now that we know the 10 questions to ask before acquiring a new management tool and the 7 steps to convince executives to adopt a new management tool, how about discussing how to transition to a new management tool?

If you are an IT professional, you are enjoying your days of glory. You have at your disposal a wide range of product developers who work tirelessly to meet all your needs.

All of these tools promise great usability and, at the same time, stratospheric success results, while keeping your expenses so low that your company’s CEO will nominate you for the employee of the decade!

And all you have to do for this to happen is to shell out some money, acquire the user licenses, and then sit back and watch everything run like a clock.

But everyone knows that things don’t work this way.

A good transition process is important

The successful transition to a new tool does not just depend on the supplier of the new solution. It depends on you. That’s right, it’s up to YOU.

You are the bridge between the old system and the new system. You need to be “in control” of this transition and the leader who will guide your company through this transition process.

This evolution does not mean just learning what to click on, it means making the new tool part of the company culture.

The new tool should not only be in alignment, but it should also improve existing workflows and processes. If you fail in this task, the tool will not be properly adopted and you may become the scapegoat of this disaster- since the idea to change tools was yours.

It doesn’t have to be painful

The transition doesn’t have to be a painful process, and the fear of this “pain” should not stop you from making much-needed changes.

Here are some key points to ensure you break free of the old management mode and enjoy the benefits of the new solution.

Know what you need from the outset

The transition process begins with considering your needs. Before you even start researching new solutions, you have to clearly define which problems need solutions and the benefits you expect in return.

Make a list of all of them and, if possible, attach a value amount to the benefits. This way, you’ll have a way to compare the savings against the cost of implementing the solution and the continued use of the new tool.

If you are uncertain about what you need the tool to deliver, then how will you know if your expectations are being met or not?

It’s quite simple: know what your expectations are, make a list, assign value amounts, and calculate the difference. By defining your goals well, you will enjoy lasting benefits.

Manage the transition as a project

The installing or removal of software should be managed as a project. It seems extremely obvious, but the biggest cause of problems in changing programs is the lack of planning.

The transition to a new tool will require resources such as people, time (especially yours), money and possibly equipment.

If you handle the management of the change as an activity you schedule around your other tasks and when time allows; without a shadow of a doubt, it will not be successful.

Time is everything

Also, think about when to do the migration. Teams with tight deadlines will not be receptive to changes if you try to change their tools in the last minutes of the second half.

You are probably implementing the new tool to help manage the intensive workload, but even so, some moments are better than others to make the change.

Do not forget to plan enough time for testing and training. This may seem expensive, but can you imagine the costs of a poorly executed or faulty implementation?

Choose your captains

If the transition process has no responsible individual, it will not be successful. It is also necessary to get support from someone in the upper management of the company because, most of the time, several departments will be impacted.

If you are uncertain about which departments these are, you need to find out as quickly as possible and get them on board. And yes, you are the captain, but you will not achieve this transition just by yourself.

Prepare the terrain

Besides skipping the planning stage, the worst thing you can do while implementing any kind of change is simply to inform people that there will be a change and then expect everyone to respond favorably.

Even the best soccer team in the world needs some time to warm up. It does not matter if you are implementing a tool that will drastically improve the way everyone works. If you simply introduce a new tool without giving any warning, do not expect to see many advantages or happy people.

The transition is a change – and people do not like changes, especially when they come by surprise. Talk to everyone and explain the reasons for the change.

Explain the benefits that will come from using the new tool and how everyone has an important role in motivating other employees. Try to have a kick-off meeting to introduce the new tool. Show the whole team the ways the new tool will improve everyone’s work.

Data transfer

Your company probably has a lot of historical and current data of great importance. Therefore, we must think about the following issues:

  • Will the data be easily transferred to the new solution?
  • If the data does not transfer over directly, will it require great manual effort to synchronize the systems?
  • Should all data be transferred to the new solution or will the new solution only be used for new projects?

Implementing in phases

It may be tempting to use the new tool for all your current projects and force everyone to use the solution.

This can work if all users have been trained and all customization issues have been addressed during the testing phase. But if that does not happen first, be very careful or the transition can go downhill.

Start with one or two projects or administrative tasks that are not very critical. Also, use a select group of employees who have been properly trained.

Even if the tool has the most intuitive interface on the planet, new users will need some time to adapt.

Choose a supplier that will be part of your team

Without a doubt, every salesperson you met during the pre-sales process did everything they could to answer your questions and alleviate your doubts, until the moment you gave them your money. But what about now?

Will the vendor you chose be at your side during the transition battle? If the answer is “no,” then look for a vendor that will be there.

There are great online help books and an automated helpdesk that you can use when things do not work out, but the success of the transition increases exponentially when you have an expert on your team.

You may have to choose a solution with a slightly higher price to get this level of support. But if you think this is an unnecessary expense, do you know what the cost of an unsuccessful transition is?

Go ahead!

The implementation of a tool never really ends. There will be (at least there should be) updates and new features that your business will need time to become familiar with. Consider training whenever necessary.

Even when all the members of your team have already set up their accounts and are using the solution, their work is not finished. In fact, it’s just getting started.

Gus Oliveira

Author

Gus Oliveira

Gus Oliveira has a degree in Business Administration as well as a degree in Economics from The University of Massachusetts – Dartmouth (USA). Oliveira has experience in the software industry for Business Excellence also in the financial and business development field, working in large companies both in the United States and in Brazil as a financial analyst, business strategy consultant and a senior project consultant.

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