By Heather Hurst
Not long ago, automation was considered the exclusive domain of manufacturing and industry. But, as more types of companies come to recognize the productivity advantages of digitizing work processes, the demand for work automation solutions is reaching a fever pitch.
But, even with a bevy of tools available, many organizations still find themselves struggling because most are designed only for a specific purpose. Instead of streamlining the workflow, this siloed work environment actually creates more work. The harsh reality is that just because it’s digital, doesn’t mean it’s more efficient.
See "9 Change Management Principles in Action: Insight from The Front Lines" for tips on how you can successfully adopt an OSR at your company.
Implementing an operational system of record (OSR) has emerged as the most effective solution to taming the digital tool turmoil. By centralizing projects onto a single, comprehensive platform, an OSR consolidates work processes and provides context, content, and communication all in one place, to help workers become more efficient and effective.
Despite the clear advantages of an OSR, getting the team engaged with yet another tool isn’t as simple as just activating the software license. It takes a strategic, coordinated effort to demonstrate the benefits, foster engagement, and get employees to fully embrace the platform. Here are some tips to help make it happen.
1. Quantify The Benefits
Let’s face it: most people want to know “what’s in it for me?” The answer: more productivity, less wasted time, and better work life-balance.
The fact that US office workers now spend most of their workweek sitting in pointless meetings, slogging through hundreds of emails, and performing other nonessential tasks means employees have to work longer hours to get real work done. As a result, they’re feeling increasingly resentful, disengaged, and burned out.
An OSR can solve that problem, giving employees back hours of time, reducing their busy-work burden, and making them happier in the process.
By automatically recording their completed tasks and progress toward completion, OSRs can give team members the freedom to work independently, without constant oversight—a benefit that alone would have teams clamoring to get on board.
2. Roll Out in Phases
Implementing a massive change all at once can be overwhelming and (not surprisingly) cause employee resistance and bring productivity to a complete standstill. In today’s fast-paced business environment, no one can afford to throw that kind of wrench into the works. Instead, consider one of two options:
- Pilot the system in one department. Once one team is up to speed and reaping the benefits, they’ll naturally want to brag about how much faster, more productive, and successful they are to others in the organization. This will drum up interest from other teams, who will soon be begging to get in on the action.
- Implement individual features in stages. Rather than throw it all at them at once, prioritize features based on the pain points they resolve, and roll them out one at a time. In fact, business strategist Jay Baer suggests rather than starting with the top feature, start with the third most important instead. Why? “You don't want to roll out the killer feature first because the entire tool will be new to the team and they'll end up focusing too much on interface and process and not enough on usefulness of the feature,” he said. So, give them a taste with Important Feature #3, move next to #2, then to #1, followed by all the others.
3. Have a Champion(s)
Tapping into influencers within the organization can be a very effective engagement strategy. You’ll certainly want to start with executive sponsorship, but getting the buy-in of key employees to whom other employees look for guidance and mentorship is powerful.
“While we do start with an executive sponsor to get the ideal state of where we want to end up, we also like to talk to people ‘on the ground,’” he said.
"These subject matter experts help us know the reality of the processes embedded in the agency’s culture and usually end up being our superusers and advocates for the tool."
4. Offer On-Demand Training
As with any new software introduction, there is bound to be a learning curve when implementing an OSR. Of course, you’ll want to offer some training to bring employees up to speed. But what about new employees who join the team or organization after the fact?
By recording the training sessions and making them available on-demand, companies can capture this valuable resource and make it readily available to new employees, or even for existing users who need a quick refresher.
“This saves your champions a ton of time as they can focus on answering specific questions rather than training from step one,” Baer says.
5. Make Embracing Change a Part of Your Culture
Every organization claims to be innovative, but most are talking only about their own product development, not their organizational culture.
For successful adoption of an OSR, you’ll want to create an environment where your employees feel as if they’re a part of the change, rather than victims of it—and that their issues and concerns are heard. This creates an adaptive, open-minded culture that is eager to embrace new things.
According to Kayla Lamoreaux, a specialist in user adoption and change management, this requires thorough communication and providing genuine, relevant feedback, even if it’s not always positive.
“Creating a culture that takes change on, celebrates change, and helps create the vision for where people are going is key,” she said.
"I believe that organizations that make their people feel like a valued asset and partner in any change they are creating are the most successful."
6. Make it Mandatory
Even with all of these strategies, there may still be some hold-outs who simply refuse to accept the new OSR.
As a last resort, the only solution is to force them into compliance by canceling old services. However, Baer recommends giving it at least 60 days before you “cut the cord” just to make sure the new solution is up and running fully.
“The reality is that no software is going to be as easy to use and as painless to adopt as it seemed in the demo,” he said. “Real people ask all kinds of questions—and do all kinds of questionably intelligent things—that they forget to ask or do in the software review and consideration process.”
Certainly, give everyone a reasonable amount of time to get on board, but at some point, you may be forced to drag them on by pulling the plug on the alternatives.
Implementing an OSR can provide undeniable advantages in streamlining communication, automating work processes, and improving productivity. Centralizing projects onto one solution gives your team the ability to prioritize work, align their goals with company goals, and save a tremendous amount of time.
But don’t assume that if you build it, they will come.
Clarifying the individual benefits and implementing a strategic adoption and engagement plan will help your company ensure a smoother transition and reap the full benefits these all-in-one platforms can provide.
Download our free "Quick Guide to Making Change Happen in Your Organization" for more ideas on how you can manage the change to a new OSR.
About the Author
Heather has enjoyed playing the game of marketing for the past 15 years, at the agency and corporate level, in both B2C and B2B companies. She's run PR campaigns that took her from the MTV Beach House to NASDAQ and many media outlets and content channels in between. She is currently the Corporate Marketing Director at Workfront.Follow on Twitter More Content by Heather Hurst
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