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The Digital Learning & Support Experience

  • Writer's pictureAshvini Sriharan

Navigating Change: Methods to Support Stakeholders during Software Implementation Projects

Updated: Apr 22, 2023

For large scale software implementation projects, you can expect some resistance from stakeholders, especially those with complex needs. It is critical to operate with empathy and boundaries to ensure stakeholders feel supported but also set clear expectations of the project plan so you can successfully follow through. Change management during such a project is crucial so that all stakeholders are prepared for the transition and can adapt to the new system. Here are some lessons learned from my experience as a Project Manager for software implementation in higher education:

Give all stakeholders advanced notice and transparency:

One of the most important things to do when implementing new software is to give all stakeholders advanced notice of the upcoming changes. This includes employees, customers, vendors, and any other parties that will be impacted by the implementation. It is also important to set frequent check-ins with your your institution's ITS or Marketing departments. Transparency is also crucial, as it helps to build trust and reduce anxiety about the upcoming changes. For stakeholders who may be struggling a bit more with the change, I provide more personalized support with one-on-one meetings as well as include them in relevant client success meetings with the vendor to build trust. It is important to give the vendor notice if you plan to include such stakeholders in meetings so they can plan ahead.

Start with a minimally complex platform:

Starting with a minimally complex platform can help users to gradually become familiar with the new software and integrate it into their daily workflows. This can help to reduce resistance to change and increase user adoption. This can also benefit the project plan and timeline as you can plan for future feature implementations as users are familiarizing themselves with the current platform.

Establish a communication plan and channels for feedback:

Regular communication about the progress of the implementation is essential to keep stakeholders informed and engaged. Creating a webpage for project updates, newsletter, or committee of stakeholders can provide a central location access information about the implementation and stay up-to-date on its progress. It is also important to give stakeholders a clear understanding of why the new software is needed. Clearly communicating the benefits and advantages of the new system can help to create excitement and enthusiasm for the upcoming changes. Additionally, create channels for stakeholders to provide their feedback and concerns can help to ensure that their voices are heard, and their needs are being considered. Options can include a new email inbox, a link to a form on the platform itself, or forms which can be distributed during check-in meetings or training sessions. This can also help to identify potential issues or roadblocks that may arise during the implementation.

Create channels for end-user and all stakeholder support:

It is important to create channels for support for all stakeholders to address their various concerns. This can include help desks, chatbots, and other resources to provide support for any technical issues or questions that may arise during the implementation. Stakeholders should be made aware of which channels to use to address concerns or submit tickets. Additionally, creating a strong knowledge base that provides resources and guidance for users can help to reduce frustration and increase user adoption. This can include training materials, tutorials, and other resources to help users become comfortable with the new software.

It is important to anticipate heavy traffic in support channels after the launch of the new software. This can include training staff to handle increased volume or communicating clear expectations to users about response times and other support-related issues.

Elect ambassadors to promote the new software:

Electing ambassadors to promote the new software and its benefits can help to build enthusiasm and excitement for the implementation. This can also create opportunities for students to become involved in the project and gain valuable experience and skills at an entry-level.

In conclusion, managing change during a large software implementation project can be challenging, but it is essential to ensure that all stakeholders are prepared for the transition and able to adapt to the new system. It is also important to consider your wellbeing during this process to ensure the success of the project. With clear communications, transparency, and added supports, you are sure to make progressive moves towards the successful launch of your project!

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