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Ten Best Practices to Successfully Implement a New Digital Solution

Ten Best Practices to Successfully Implement a New Digital Solution

  • February 28, 2024
  • Blog

By Paul Myott, Vice President of Organizational Effectiveness & Internal Communications 

Too many organizations make critical and expensive missteps when introducing a new digital tool. DataBank’s head of organizational effectiveness covers 10 steps to help you avoid critical mistakes and assure success when implementing a new digital solution.

So many companies today are looking for new or better ways to run their business, and as they do, many continue to turn to the latest digital solutions for help.  

Yet, their attempt to layer on a new digital tool – or worse, blindly choosing the industry’s most recent “bright shiny object” – will not necessarily guarantee the return on investment (ROI) they are seeking. Implementing any new technology and getting employees to fully adopt it to the point where it delivers the desired results is a risky proposition.   

Many companies have made critical mistakes in their attempts to introduce new digital tools or conduct widescale digital transformation efforts. One of the biggest and most common is not doing enough to educate and engage employees and make them part of the ongoing process. According to research findings from McKinsey & Company, 70% of digital transformation projects fail, primarily due to lack of a cohesive and compelling change strategy.    

These failures add up to too many losses for the entire organization: loss of investment, loss of employee engagement and confidence, and loss of momentum in the marketplace.  

The Right Methodology for Change Management Success 

Clearly, even the most successful companies can stumble when attempting to introduce a new digital tool to their employees. Despite having the best intentions, they accidentally overlook many of the most important steps when managing change. In doing so, they may inadvertently put the entire project at risk.  

To help, here is a 10-step change management approach you can use to achieve success with implementing your next digital solution. 

1. Assess Needs and Objectives

This is an important first step. It ensures alignment between the digital solutions’ capabilities, your own strategic goals, and the end-users’ needs. Many organizations start and end with simply defining the business objectives. However, to truly maximize adoption and ROI, we recommend defining both the business goals and end-user needs.  

Whether you are buying or building the technology, evaluating and understanding your specific challenges, inefficiencies, and desired user outcomes will give you the highest chance of success at truly tailoring the implementation to address these areas effectively.  

Learn more on this topic: Assessing Needs and Objectives 

2. Research and Find the Right Tools 

Don’t skip this step or simply select the most popular or trendy solution. Make sure you do enough research. Identify the right digital tool to address your unique requirements while providing the highest levels of functionality and compatibility with existing systems. Thorough research can minimize the risk of investing in tools that may not fully meet your needs.  

We recommend choosing two to three best-in-class solutions and taking the time to have internal users demo them and complete a thorough side-by-side comparison. Best-in-class solutions typically have similar basic functionality, but some may have features you did not realize you needed or that may advance your capabilities.  

Learn more on this topic: Researching and Finding the Right Tools 

3. Consider Employee Adoption as Early as Possible 

It is surprising but still true: Too many companies overlook this part of the process, even if they follow Steps 1 and 2 above. They may assume their employees will accept the new tool or are knowledgeable enough to figure out how to use. This assumption can be disastrous and can even derail the whole project. Full-scale adoption is as critical as selecting the right tool and is dependent on buy-in from more than just the end-users.  

It is critical to develop a comprehensive plan to identify and drive adoption with all impacted stakeholders, including leadership. Organizational change management is a comprehensive discipline designed to work in step with project management. This is why we suggest becoming familiar with a methodology and following it.   

Learn more on this topic: Considering Employee Adoption as Early as Possible 

4. Provide Training and Support 

Related to the point above, once employees are bought in to the change, providing the right training and support ensures that they will understand the reason (and benefits) for the new digital tool and use it effectively. Deliver the right support resources at the point users need them and in the ways they prefer to use them.  

Not only will this help reduce errors and maximize productivity, but it will foster increased confidence and proficiency among employees. These benefits will lead to smoother transitions and a better integration into existing processes and workflows.  

Learn more on this topic: Providing Training and Support 

5. Promote Adoption and Engagement

Promoting adoption and engagement among employees fosters an ongoing culture of innovation and collaboration. This drives collective buy-in and ownership of the new digital tools. Actively involve employees in the onboarding process and encourage their participation. By using live demos, pilot groups, beta testing, and user acceptance testing, you can tap into their insights and feedback to refine strategies, enhance usability, and achieve faster uptake.  

We also recommend identifying “change champions” early on. These champions can help evangelize the new tool within their teams ahead of the full-scale rollout.  

Learn more on this topic: Promote Adoption and Engagement 

6. Encourage Feedback and Iteration 

Creating feedback loops is critical. They help you address potential missteps before they happen or quickly resolve issues that pop up unexpectedly. Creating product champions or functional owners to facilitate regular feedback and suggest enhancements from users during implementation is a great way to help tweak the tool to do what your users need it to do.  

Learn more on this topic: Encourage Feedback and Iteration 

7. Monitor Usage and Performance 

As the tool goes live in your environment, monitor ongoing usage and performance. This will not only measure adoption but can help you redirect resources, like technical support, where your users need them most.  

By tracking metrics such as features accessed, issues reported, and system performance, you can ensure that the new solution continues to meet evolving needs and deliver the intended benefits over time. Sharing metrics with the user community is another way to promote transparency and drive iteration and continuous improvement.  

Learn more on this topic: Monitor Usage and Performance 

8. Address Resistance and Overcome Barriers 

Unfortunately, too many organizations don’t do enough to solicit any type of employee feedback. When they do, they don’t want to hear bad news. When negative feedback surfaces, it’s best to acknowledge it immediately, thank those who submitted it, and be clear about how you plan to address it.  

If you don’t plan to address it, explain the business rationale in the most public forum possible to show transparency. This will go a long way toward fostering a culture of openness, trust, collaboration, and proactive problem-solving.  

Learn more on this topic: Address Resistance and Overcome Barriers 

9. Celebrate Success and Recognize Achievements 

Plan now to celebrate the success you are sure to have. Recognizing early wins and achievements – no matter how small – will help reinforce positive behaviors. Also, highlight the efforts of key employees who have contributed along the way.  

Build enthusiasm and momentum. Share user testimonials, publish case studies, and use simple rewards and recognition with early adopters. These are critical in encouraging further teamwork and adoption.   

Learn more on this topic: Celebrate Success and Recognize Achievements 

10. Drive Continuous Improvement 

Don’t forget this last step. Focusing on driving continuous improvement with the new digital solution after implementation will give you the best chance for long-term success. By actively seeking ongoing feedback and soliciting suggestions for new functionality and capabilities from those who use the tool the most, you can make sure that the solution remains relevant, efficient, and capable of supporting evolving business objectives. 

When it comes down to it, successfully implementing any new digital tool requires a comprehensive approach that focuses on people and process as well as the technology. By following the framework described above, you can develop an effective plan that addresses each of these areas – especially your employees – to maximize adoption and help you achieve your objectives.  

Learn more on this topic: Drive Continuous Improvement 


Additional Recommended Resources 

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