Rallying your leadership around the need to implement a new tool is a feat in and of itself. Going through the hassle of explaining the need for a new project management solution to the executive team is the first of many steps to implementing your new solution. You may think you’ve crossed your biggest hurdle by getting buy-in from senior stakeholders, but this is only the beginning of successfully implementing your new project management tool. It is the team members who end up being the biggest piece of the puzzle, and making sure they see what’s in it for them early on is key.
There is often a lot of pushback when changing people’s behavior inside an organization. There are a few reasons why it can be challenging to implement new tools:
- Learning something new takes a lot of mental bandwidth and time
- People already have a set process and may not think this new way is better
- People don’t see the benefit of using the new tool
To implement a new tool like LiquidPlanner successfully, you need to be prepared to overcome these hurdles. There could have been many reasons why you made the switch. Perhaps your organization’s current project management platform isn’t meeting expectations any longer, or your company’s needs have advanced beyond the current process. Or maybe this is the first time your organization will use a robust project management software platform.
Adoption among the working team is one of the biggest challenges you will face when implementing a new project management solution. It’s important to highlight all the team benefits instead of simply the features. Discussing the features doesn’t explain why your team will benefit from them, or why the decision was made in the first place. So consider things from their perspective, how will you help them get used to the new solution, and how will this effort benefit them in the long run?
How To Gain Adoption Of A New Tool
If you’re implementing a brand new software program, working to gain adoption within your organization is likely to be pretty high up on your to-do-list. Whether you are implementing a brand new process or replacing an existing software platform, these steps will get the team to adopt and ultimately get value from your new project management software:
1. Create robust training programs
One of the biggest challenges of implementing a new software tool is learning how to use it. As the project management or functional leader, you need to make it easy for teams to get started with the tool. Education and exposure, along with clear guidelines on how to use the solution, will help the team get there. Developing a User Guide specific to how they should leverage the new project management solution will help not only with the roll out, but also with consistent ongoing usage of the application so that stakeholders will get portfolio visibility and accurate reporting outputs.
Time is our most valuable commodity, and one way to reduce the lift of training up your team is to leverage professional services offerings. While you may be one of the most advanced users of the new project management tool inside your organization, the in-house product experts will always know most about the product and have beneficial implementation tips. Partnering with them to bring your knowledge of the organization and existing processes with their product expertise will make adopting a new tool much smoother for everyone involved.
2. Show how this new software will save your team time and energy in their day to day work.
As many of us know, creating a new habit takes a lot of time and energy. If you want your team to start using a new software tool, you must show them how investing their time and energy will benefit them in the long run. Will using the new solution reduce their time spent in meetings? Could it reduce time waste for things like sending out status updates or having stakeholders call for information? Once they understand the benefit of using this new software, it will be much easier to gain wide adoption of a new tool quickly.
3. Get your executive team to help.
If you are the only person in the organization working on implementing the new tool, then fully adopting the new project management process will take much longer. You’ve likely done the hard work of convincing your leadership team why we need to use this tool. Now they have the talking points to evangelize the product to the rest of the organization. Make sure that team leaders from each area of the organization discuss the benefits of the new tool with their teams and communicate utilization expectations.
Having a formal Kick-Off meeting with the team and executive sponsors is an ideal way to achieve this. Kick-Off meetings provide a forum to communicate why the decision was made, the benefits to each person and functional team, as well as the expectations for usage. This also provides team members the opportunity to voice concerns and ask questions, which will help everyone get to buy-in faster. If you create an User Guide as a playbook, this would be the time to introduce it. This small step will help expedite the adoption process and having executive sponsors lead the effort goes a very long way.
Now there’s one more tip to consider, especially if you’re replacing an old tool.
How to replace existing software
If you are sunsetting an existing software solution and replacing it with a new one, then the most important thing you’ll need to explain are the differences between the new and old products. The biggest hurdle you’ll have to overcome is explaining the benefits of this new project management software over the current.
There are likely lots of resources that exist within your new software company’s toolkit that explain why they are a better solution than your current software provider. Spending a bit of time with their product experts will help you outline how this will solve the team’s pain points with your current tool. Here are some things to consider:
- Does the new project management software automate processes to save your team time?
- Does it reduce or eliminate any other manual tasks?
- Is the tool easier to use?
- Does it incorporate multiple tools into one solution?
Make sure you take the time to fully understand your team’s pain points so you can address their concerns. This is one of the most critical steps in gaining adoption within the working team.
When moving over to a different solution, drawing a clear line in the sand for when the team should stop using the old solution and start using the new one is essential. Pick a milestone day for the official “go live”, and time the Kick-Off meeting on or slightly before this day to get the team excited by the move! You’ll want to make sure there is a clean move over date so that project data and inputs are in the right solution – and you certainly don’t want the team duplicating efforts in two solutions!
How to implement completely new software
When you’re implementing a project management process for the first time with the new software, you’ll need to remember that each person likely has a different method of managing their projects. This may make it a more difficult task for you initially, because you’ll need to help the team change existing behavior.
In this case, most of your team is likely using manual processes such as Excel spreadsheets to track their time or perhaps they are using paper to-do lists. They may not see that their current process has been working against them, and that a little bit of effort to learn a new way of managing their work can save them so much time and energy. Or perhaps frustration has built to the breaking point, given the amount of time required to manage projects in an unstructured and manual way.
This is another great time to partner with the in-house product experts.They can sit down with you and review your current processes across teams, then make the best recommendation on how to streamline procedures within the new tool in order to achieve your goals. Providing custom training for the various teams on the new processes can help increase adoption and overall buy-in.
How to explain the benefits of LiquidPlanner
Now let’s get into the main benefits of using LiquidPlanner for your organization. Remember, focusing on the benefits and not just the features is important. So here are some of the main benefits our customers experience when using LiquidPlanner:
- Greater On-time Delivery
- Maintaining a Balanced Workload
- Increased Efficiency
- Better Collaboration
Greater On-Time Delivery
One of the biggest benefits our customers realize after using LiquidPlanner is that their on-time delivery of projects and tasks improves greatly. The benefit you will want to focus on for your team is a major reduction in stress to meet unrealistic deadlines. Teams can experience a lot of chaotic rushing near the end of a project to meet project timelines, which happens for a few reasons:
- Workers did not properly estimate how long tasks will take to complete.
- Project leaders didn’t coordinate the interdependent resources between teams.
- Teams didn’t incorporate the inherent uncertainty in their project plans.
The reason our customers see a greater on-time delivery is because of our proprietary scheduling engine. We incorporate ranged estimation, allowing project teams to include a best and worst-case scenario for each task. This methodology helps to include uncertainty into project plans to create a more realistic schedule. Teams can often only use one single point estimate in project management software when planning a timeline. This estimate is normally an average, meaning that task may be delivered late half of the time.
If you’re working in an organization that has shared resources across multiple teams, you’ve likely run into the problem of scheduling those resources appropriately. LiquidPlanner helps solve this resource allocation problem by load balancing through availability and ranged estimation. Teams can also include successors and dependencies between tasks, so it’s clear if that resource or team member will be available when it’s their turn to work on their project tasks.
Maintaining a Balanced Workload
One problem that is often overlooked in project planning is ensuring a balanced workload for the project team members. Team leaders can often overlook this critical component of maintaining a healthy and happy team by instead focusing on the project timelines and bottom line. This lack of emotional intelligence in project leadership could cause your team to have higher turnover and, therefore, less productive projects.
One of LiquidPlanner’s core benefits is to provide a balanced workload for project teams. This may be the most important benefit to highlight if your team has been working overtime and under a lot of stress. LiquidPlanner optimizes the schedule based on your priorities and constraints. People won’t be overloaded and gaps will be automatically filled with lower priority work.
LiquidPlanner provides detailed workload views so project leaders can quickly see the available bandwidth for each person. Red schedule alerts will show up automatically if someone is overloaded with work, has a constraint causing a bottleneck, or has too many competing priorities. This methodology helps project teams advocate for a balanced workload by showing these scheduling problems weeks before they cause missed deadlines.
Automatic resource leveling optimizes the project schedule in real-time, depending on company-wide priorities. Project leaders can easily drag and drop projects to change priorities to see how that affects their team’s workload and project schedules. You can then proactively see bottlenecks and resource risks early to fix these workload issues. Using a tool that helps you maintain a balanced workload for team members is one of the best ways to be a successful project leader.
It is very common for project leaders to change the priorities of projects and tasks. But often, teams miss the memo that priorities have changed, causing them to work on other less critical tasks first. This causes team members to work overtime to catch up on higher-priority work to meet deadlines because priority changes weren’t properly communicated to them.
LiquidPlanner helps teams optimize their time in two important ways:
1. Have aligned priorities across the entire organization
Aligned priorities is another core benefit of the LiquidPlanner methodology. Your team can easily see company-wide priorities by looking at their portfolio of active projects. When priorities shift, you can re-prioritize by simply dragging a task or project up and every team member’s priorities will shift automatically. The team always knows what to work on and when, ensuring more efficient project execution.
2. Reduce meetings
Another great benefit you will want to explain to your team is that LiquidPlanner helps to reduce unnecessary meetings greatly. We all loath attending meetings that could have been an email. With LiquidPlanner, you don’t even need to necessarily send email status updates. If everyone updates their progress in the tool, project leaders can easily go into it themselves to see how the project is progressing. Plus, you won’t need to schedule a meeting to communicate when priorities change.
Collaborating effectively is one of the most important talents of project leaders. Here are some of the most common collaboration problems that teams face:
- Not understanding hand-offs between teams.
- Misallocating shared resources.
- Not having clear owners of each task.
- Lack of a clear vision or prioritization of projects.
LiquidPlanner can help solve all of these collaboration challenges that teams face. The software incorporates dependencies and successors between tasks, so it’s clear when hand-offs between teams take place. You can also track resource availability within the project plan to see when a resource will be available to take on more work. This capability enables seamless coordination of shared resources between teams. LiquidPlanner also encourages teams to record each individual task that needs to be executed within a project. This level of clear communication around the necessary project steps makes it easy to know what tasks you own and when they need to be completed to keep the project on schedule. Plus all projects are listed in priority order, so it’s clear what they need to work on first to keep projects on track.
Getting your team to use LiquidPlanner most efficiently is one of the most challenging aspects of incorporating a new tool into your organization. Gaining adoption is much easier when you partner with your team of product experts. They can help you:
- Develop training materials and train the team themselves
- Answer any detailed questions the team has
- Create materials to show why LiquidPlanner is more efficient than previous tools or methodologies
- Explain the benefits of using LiquidPlanner
When trying to get team buy-in, remember to focus on the benefits of the tool and not the features. Your team will love to hear that they will never need to work overtime again versus pointing out a specific feature that can help them manage their time. . Develop a plan to ensure your team is set-up for success. Feel free to work with our team of product experts to make your vision come to life, your team will thank you for it.
About the Author
Missy Day has over ten years of experience developing and executing marketing strategies for various industries. She runs and operates her marketing consulting firm and various other small business ventures. She also specializes in burnout management and prevention for other corporate professionals.