Communication Tips for the Rollout of New Software

5 minutes

In working with thousands of clients transition into a new software solution, we have learned (admittedly, sometimes the hard way) a few do’s and do not do’s. We can often boil issues down to two keys elements of human nature: 

  1. People do not like change 

  1. People do not adequately communicate 

Overcoming obstacle #1 is possible once you take action to rectify obstacle #2. This is not limited to software. 

Accept the hard fact that people will not like you "moving their cheese". However, if you communicate effectively on why a change is necessary, you can begin to win mindshare on why change can be good. How do you do this? 


Think and see as others think and see 

“To know what Mary Jane buys, look through Mary Jane eyes”. Think of what will interest those affected by the change. 

Do they care that this solution will save you x amount of time or money? Maybe, but do not count on it. Do they care that it is faster and easier than what they did before? Probably. 

Find their pains and address them. Sorry, but they just don’t have time for your pains. 


Become a marketer 

Marketing is about communicating value. If you cannot sell the vision, people will look in another direction. Work with your software company’s support, sales and/or marketing teams to leverage their experience. They should have insight and materials to save work for you. 

Some marketing insight about catching attention vs. being ignored: 

  • The title and the first 2 sentences of an email or memo are essential 

  • People are 3-4x more engaged with audio/visual than text 

  • The first 20 seconds in conversations and audio are crucial 

Also, keep in mind that companies need to “touch” a prospect multiple times via advertising before someone actually becomes a customer. Hence why you will see the same commercial multiple times, through multiple media types and with different messaging targeted toward different audiences. This will not be different for you, so… 


Use a variety of communication channels 

Do not limit yourself on how often you communicate through these channels (click those with links to access sample materials and ideas). 

  • Email 

  • Email signatures 

  • Face-to-face meeting 

  • Message boards (electronic or actual bulletin board) 

  • Webpage 

  • Blog 

  • Videos 

  • Documents (online or hardcopy) 

  • Memo in their mailbox 

  • Instant Messaging (Skype, Yammer, Slack, etc.) 

  • Social Media or similar communication feed software 

  • Reminders during a face-to-face discussion 


Answer the critical questions before they are asked 

When you implement software, think of everyone affected. Prepare a different message for each affected group that caters to their needs and questions. Each message should focus upon: 

  • Why you are communicating to that department or team? 

  • What is happening? 

  • How it will help them? 

  • How they can get help? 

  • How they can help you? 

  • How to access the software? 

Consider 3 communications at the minimum on “what will be happening”, “what is happening” and “what has happened”, then periodic updates as necessary. 


Do not over-explain 

Keep it simple and straight to the point. Explain what is occurring in simple terms. Remove “flowery” words or unnecessary adjectives. Your goal: write it down, pare it down, get a second opinion, and trim it down more. No fluff. 


Get a second, maybe a third set of eyes 

"For Your Eyes Only" works for James Bond, but you need a sanity check on your message. Get feedback from someone in the loop and from someone not in the loop before you hit send or print. 


Focus on “pushing across vs. pushing down” 

People do not enjoy being forced to change. Find individuals who have “bought in”, and have them be an avenue to have someone carry your message. This “champion” should understand why the change is necessary and what the benefits will be. They will be the ones to defend and advance change when you are absent. 

Also, people at the same level in the organization will use their own language and their shared views that effectively helps get “buy-in”. 

It is a similar concept of online product reviews…customers often trust other customers’ feedback more than the messaging from the manufacturer. 


Regularly check your progress and reward those involved 

Run reports, check key performance indicators (KPIs) and survey people on a periodic basis to gauge how the health of the implementation is going. Ask what is going well and what could be improved and ask for complete honesty. A Sioux saying “Listen to the whispers and you won’t have to hear the screams” is essential to remember. 

Consider “gamification” or a reward approach to drive adoption. Pick the top amount of high performing users for a month or for a quarter (not the whole list of users) and recognize them. Pick a few topics you wish to have tracked and recognize the “heavy hitters” in accomplishing each of those tasks. 

Here are reward ideas: 

  • Simple recognition (meeting, email, memo) and be sure to take a photo 

  • Post on a bulletin board 

  • Parking space 

  • Pizza party 

  • Cookout 

  • Gift cards 

  • Swag (e.g., something from the software company) 

If you start a reward program, set reminders to keep the momentum going. 



Change stinks, but a lack of change equals stagnation. 

Communication is key. Multiple communications are essential. 

You will be ignored by some, keep trying to send your message. 

20% extra effort in the beginning, saves 60% of effort and headaches down the road. 

Starting momentum is not always easy, but the sooner the energy is started, the easier you can accomplish your goals.