Marius Stäcker, CEO of ToolTime, shares his four top tips for successfully implementing new software and driving digital transformation.

Introducing new software can be daunting, particularly if you’re a small business with limited resources in the early stages of digitisation. However, when you digitise effectively, there is much to be gained, such as increasing productivity, revenue generation, attracting younger talent, and levelling up customer service. 

The key to successful implementation lies in your approach. Digital transformation can be expensive, so ensuring a solid return on investment is critical. The good news is that organisations with fewer than 100 employees are 2.7x more likely to report a successful digital transformation than those with more than 50,000 employees. 

However, despite this, many SMEs still fall victim to rushing the onboarding of new software due to external pressures, only to find that the selected software doesn’t adequately serve the needs of their business. To avoid this, it’s critical to understand what you’re trying to achieve, what your team needs to support their day-to-day operations, and the realities of transitioning to new software solutions. You can accomplish this with proper planning, buy-in from the right parties, and the support of the right partners

Whether you find yourself bogged down by the sheer number of solutions on the market, are experiencing push-back internally, or don’t know where to start, this article will help you move forward with your digital transformation and successfully onboard new software tools. 

1. Define your ‘why’

Whether you want to grow your business, differentiate from competitors, give your team more time to spend with customers or improve administrative processes, defining your business aims and the specific problems you’re trying to solve is an essential first step in digitisation. 

Once you have determined your business goals, you need to break this down further to ensure that the digital tools you select can get to the root of the problem. For instance, if you are looking to attract more customers, how can you achieve this? It might be by focusing on the customer experience to ensure smooth, professional service, which could mean looking at tools supporting customer relationship and appointment management, invoicing, or improving organisation more generally. 

However, if your business aim is to grow revenue, you might be looking for tools to increase productivity and free up more working hours for you and your team. This requires a slightly different set of tools – for example, those that can support paperwork digitalisation and centralisation or the automation of time-consuming manual administration.  

The first step in successful software implementation is clearly defining your business’s specific requirements. This helps narrow down the search for the right option and gives you a framework for assessing potential partners.

2. Select partners that understand you

Once you’ve refined your business aims, you must carefully consider and evaluate the partners to help you achieve them. Picking a partner with the right tools for the job can be a challenge, but investing in this stage of the process will set you up for a smooth transition and put you on the path to a quick return on your investment.

Choose partners who want to understand your business requirements. The right partner will ask you lots of questions and want to get to know not only your practical needs but also your business’s ethos and long-term goals. They should have a track record for helping businesses of a similar size and in the same or relevant adjacent industry. 

It also helps to commit time to discussing the onboarding process in detail. Understanding the impact on your team and what any potential partner can do to help them get up to speed – fast – will be critical in the later stages of implementing new software. The right partner for you will understand your current pain points, your team mindset and what they need to buy into the process.

3. Make sure your team feels heard

Business owners are often worried that new software will make things more complicated or overwhelm team members. When selecting and implementing new digital tools, they encounter barriers of unfamiliarity, hassle, and uncertainty. Digitalisation requires a practical change in how things are done and a cultural shift inside the company, so securing buy-in by ensuring your employees feel heard and accounted for in the selection and onboarding process will be crucial.

Comprehensive training will be essential to ensure proper software usage to achieve the desired results. The vendor should provide this for all users, with ongoing support for teething problems or issues arising with greater use. Ask your vendor what their customer success team looks like and how you will be supported even after training and initial implementation. 

4. Track success

Even after the software has been implemented, it’s essential to maintain open lines of communication to discuss the transition, address any concerns, and celebrate early wins to build momentum. Ongoing monitoring and evaluation will be necessary to gauge usage and performance. There’s no point in having the software if no one uses it after all or if it’s not improving productivity and efficiency. 

Onboarding new solutions and letting them run until you hit roadblocks will not deliver the desired results. A continual review process and an ongoing performance assessment cycle are critical.

By establishing clear, measurable objectives such as reduced time for task completion, increased output, or improved accuracy that map to your business objectives, you will build a proper understanding of whether or not the software delivers on those requirements. 

Setting the stage for long-term success

Successfully integrating new software into your small business’s operations can be a game-changer, offering enhanced productivity, revenue growth, and improved customer service.

The key to a successful digital transformation lies in thorough planning, understanding your specific needs, and selecting the right partners who align with your business goals. Ensuring your team feels involved and supported throughout the process is crucial, as is tracking the software’s performance to ensure it meets your objectives. With careful execution, your business can harness the full potential of digital tools, setting the stage for long-term success and growth.

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