When companies roll out new enterprise-wide software or hardware upgrades designed to increase efficiency, the technology could actually have the opposite effect unless organizations plan ahead.

That’s easier said than done, of course. But Julie Cochrane, Junxure’s head of training and consulting, has developed a seven-step system to make the process easier and increase adoption among employees.

“This is one of those topics that is clearly near and dear to my heart,” Cochrane said during a recent webinar. “This is something that can be applied to every technology that you have.

“Most of (the challenge of implementation) is not necessarily about the tech but the change,” she continued. “You need to be managing the change.”

Step 1: Begin with the end in mind

The first step is the most important one, said Cochrane, who had more than a decade of experience in the financial services sector before joining Junxure in 2008. She calls it “Begin with the End in Mind,” and it’s deceptively simple: It requires that the clients ask themselves such basic but important questions as “Why are we implementing this new system? How will this change, for the better, what we currently have in place? And who will this change impact?”

According to Cochrane, clients need to identify “the ‘need to haves’ versus the ‘nice to haves’” and to have timely and measurable “smart goals.”

“What you need to do is understand what it is you want to get out of the system,” she said. “For those of you … who are still doing research, it’s important to know: What are the marks that you want that technology to hit for you?”

Step 2: Engage others

Clients also need to engage employees who will use the new technology, which doesn’t happen in a surprising number of instances where a small group of employees call the shots. Cochrane recommends creating a task force, led by an “ambassador,” that is responsible for overseeing the implementation. She suggests appointing employees from different areas of the enterprise, as well as those with varying levels of tech-savviness. In the long run, businesses will need all types of workers to buy in for a successful deployment.

“There are so many times … where you have some people that are part of the sales process, and they are the ones that are making the decisions,” Cochrane said. “However, often they are not the ones that are knee-deep in the technology every day. When you get to me on the training side, we end up with people who have no idea what the expectations are.”

Step 3: Identify your processes and systems

Businesses next need to think about customization. They’ll need to decide ahead of time what type of work is required, because these types of changes can quickly become expensive — especially without sufficient planning.

Step 4: Communicate

Once each of the earlier steps are completed, businesses must develop their communications strategy. Expectations should be realistic, and messaging needs to be consistent across the enterprise. As Cochrane noted, employees are going to want to know, “What’s in it for them?” That’s why it’s important for businesses to explain the benefits they will get from the changes that are being implemented.

“You want to make sure that all of the plans and the recommendations and the processes and the decisions are fully shared and communicated to the firm,” she said, adding that clear communication is a vital step to positive outcomes.

Step 5: Gain commitment and buy-in

A key part of the process is finding the right “ambassador.” Their job is to ensure that the technology is implemented smoothly – a key role responsible for organizing activities like “lunch-and-learns” that require plenty of thought along with someone who is eager to master the new technology.

“Should it be the new person that you’ve just hired?” Cochrane asked. “My thought is, no.” Even the most gung-ho of newbies won’t know the history of the company or the personalities involved intimately enough to be effective, according to Cochrane.

Step 6: Training

Another area where companies often falter is training – and those who do skimp may regret it later. 

“This is one area where many firms fall short … where maybe one person is trained, or maybe you say, “You know what? We don’t have time’,” Cochrane said.

Step 7: Celebrate and appreciate

Finally comes the time to celebrate and appreciate those involved in the process. Some firms offer “awards” to employees who have persevered during a stressful time. This just goes to show how valuable a little planning early on in the process can be in saving loads of headaches down the road.

To learn more about adopting new technology, register for this on-demand webcast.