Bringing new applications into your office is like putting your staff in French class 301

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Let’s be honest those of us in the tech world love new technology and new applications. We can see if something is made better, it’s what we do.  Nevertheless, there is a point where the engineer hat has to come off and we have to give way to the implications of something more than just the architecture of a new server, provisioning new LUNs on the SAN, or a few entries in the firewall. We have to give the end user that great new application and walk away.

Bringing new applications into the corporate environment means that every employee has to change the way they work.  To the staff, it’s almost like getting a new job, yet working with the same people.  Everything changes, and that app is going to rule their world and the business.  It is our job to know the technical aspects, tear apart the business logic of the new app, and know if it’s a good fit. Once the technician comes to a decision, it’s on and a new app is on its way.

Just recently I met with an Ophthalmologist practice that sees at least 100 patients a day over their three or four locations and their staff size is just under 100.  The task was to implement a new EMR (Electronic Medical Record) system.  Understand this application is going to affect every user of the company, including doctors, nurses, and billing staff.  It will change everything they do. As I look out at the crowd during the conference table, I can tell they are just scared. It’s changed. Yet, it has to be done.

I have done enough of these over the years to know that the key to a successful implementation of these types of systems isn’t to start with the servers; it’s to start with the staff.  After they heard the entire speech from the EMR company I reminded them “This is change, folks, we know this, but this is how we will be here to help.”  I began laying out the training and go-live plan; I worked with the vendor to let the staff know the support plans, and how to ask for help.  Then I went back to the features of the app, and the reason why they are doing this in the first place.

I may be referencing a medical company here, but the same mindset and strategy can be used for that new application going into any type of company.  Some key points to keep in mind as consultants for a practice with a migration:

  • Remember it is change- Users will not be doing the same thing, in the same way they were the day before and that would scare anyone.
  • Have a training plan- Let people know how both you and the software vendor can bridge gaps in knowledge.
  • Empower the quick learner’s users will just get it, and we need them to be able to cross-train others that don’t. Allow those users to shine.
  •  Provide a lifeline– Yes it will be change, there will be issues, we will be here, the vendor will be here but the reason we are doing this is to simplify and make everyone’s workload more bearable.
  • Sell the sizzle-Highlight three of the best features and two of the coolest, and let them buy into the app. Show them how it helps.

A good engineer, with a good CEO, 9 times out 10 will make the right decision on when and what type of new applications the company needs.  Those decisions dig into the business model, and the technology at hand.  Usually, only a select few of the staff have any input into this decision.  When working with companies that have 30-100 users this means a lot of quality employees that need to feel empowered.

When the decision is made to purchase new applications, the staff needs to know why a successful roll-out requires them to be interested and accept the decision. Take the time to educate the staff on the new features and sell them on how it helps them to do their jobs better and more efficiently.  Keep in mind speaking computer lingo is like speaking French, they have no idea what you’re saying, and they need to know someone will be there to help them learn the new changes.

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