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How to easily migrate to a new digital system: Tips from industry experts

Why do employees resist new digital systems?

1. We’ve always done it this way

Philippe Miguet Operations Manager at Theta Trading Technologies said that in previous roles he often heard the phrases “We’ve always done it this way” and “I like it this way.” He witnessed an inability to change out of personal and comfort reasons, the fact that the change would mean saving money, time or increase performance did not matter.

2. The value can’t be proved until you actually use it 

It’s all well and good reading stats and success stories but until your staff actually use the system and realise they need it in a time of urgency, they won’t understand it’s value. Dave Hadris Operations Director at Palmer Brothers construction company explained that the actual value isn’t known until you find that you have a claim against you, or there is an issue/specific question. The time and cost of the new solution is then quickly demonstrated as invaluable.The benefits of the new system may be obvious to the leadership, but unless those benefits are understood throughout the organisation, people will lament the old system going away.” Mark Bilzard from BPI Management Consulting. 

4. They develop a blame culture 

Dave Hadris also explained that when management help staff too much it gives them less ownership. This allows for a blame culture where staff actively disengage. He mentioned that digital systems are only as good as the information that people put in them. If staff are not properly trained on how to use the systems then, of course, they are not going to see their true value. They will blame the systems for making their job harder and will, therefore, resist them.

5. Staff think it’s too much upheaval

Ben Bennett Chief Operating Officer at Omnitude explained: “The view that these new platforms mean ripping out and replacing existing systems is no longer necessary.” Yet it is a view that so many staff still have.

To overcome these issues, firstly you need to address any worries or concerns

Olga DeSio HR Consultant at Newmedical Technology explained “Managers can be a valuable asset in times of change. Give them permission to start a dialogue with their teams to find out what’s on people’s minds. As you share more information with managers about the direction, they can help their teams through the transition process. Don’t forget leaders are also targets of change before they can become sponsors, they have to address individual concerns and obstacles.”

Give staff a voice

Maria O’Kelly HR Relationship Manager at Beaumont hospital explained that when she moved to a paperless office it was essential that all employees had a voice during the process. You need to make sure everyone is heard to ensure that everyone is happy along the way, otherwise, your new system will not receive a warm welcome. You can easily do this with daily meetings, suggestion boxes, or a place online where staff can communicate their frustrations. Just make it clear to everyone the processes for reporting their concerns.

Offer any additional tools which will help make the transition easier

It can be daunting, replacing an entire legacy system in your business, but it doesn’t always mean out with the old and in with the new. Ben Bennett explained that many companies believe deploying new platforms means ripping out and replacing existing systems, but this is no longer necessary. There are digital solutions such as Omnitude which provide the middleware layer to enable new and legacy systems to talk to each other. In this way companies can push/pull/merge data in ways not previously possible, opening up vast new levels of insight, potential revenue stream and business efficiency. The systems also encourage access to their native and third-party decentralised applications using blockchain solutions, which in turn, open up a whole new world of possibilities that have trust and transparency at their core.

You need to involve employees from the beginning

Encourage open communication 

Keep them involved in the decision process for the new digital system from the very beginning, get their ideas, thoughts and evaluations. Dave Hadris explained “I’ve found working with staff rather than managing them whilst developing systems as a team is far more effective. Having an open communication line between all parties at middle management is effective as this is when you see changes in attitudes as they believe all changes are ‘their own ideas’.” This leads to increased engagement when welcoming the new system. 

Lewis Tasker Chief Operating Officer from JustPark explained “The most common failure I see is not making the case for change. Clearly spelling out why we need to implement something new, the benefits, and most importantly what will happen if we don’t change, is the most powerful message one can send to ensure everyone is behind a successful implementation. Humans are inquisitive, we love to know what is going on and be kept in the loop. By constantly communicating throughout a project you will keep everyone involved and motivated to deliver the outcome.”

You need to make sure people are ready for the change

Lewis Tasker also explained in fast-growing businesses, things are changing all the time. This can be exciting, but with so much happening it can be easy to overlook managing the change itself, especially when you also have the day to day business to run. When implementing a new system or process, the most important thing is to ensure the people involved are all committed to the change. You can spend a huge amount on new tools but if the people using them aren’t bought-in to the change, the implementation will ultimately fail. Mark Bilzard agreed, stating “As an Operations professional, I would say one of the biggest obstacles is organisational change readiness.” He suggested a checklist of questions you should ask yourself regarding change:

  1. Do people in your organisation know about the change?
  2. Are they bought into why the change is being made?
  3. Do they know the benefits of the change?
  4. Do they what their role is in the change?

Create a going live countdown

Maria O’Kelly suggested implementing a countdown to the going-live date, this could include posters, screensavers, emails to all and town hall meetings. She made it clear that you cannot over communicate in situations like these as there will always be someone who says later on that they didn’t know. 

If you are still facing resistance Philippe Miguet suggests making little changes to ease people into using the new digital system, do it once in a while without them even noticing.

Proper training is essential

Changing systems usually results in resistance because it means venturing into the unknown. However, the more training you do the less it will be an unknown area. This makes employees feel confident and more ready to embrace the new digital systems that you are implementing.

Below are a few tips to plan a training programme for your deployment.

  1. Define your goals – What do you want them to get out of the training, what level of competency do you want staff to be at once the training is over?
  2. Define your time frame – How long do you have to do the training before the new deployment is launched? How much time per day do you have to fit your training in, in line with your employee’s schedules?
  3. Test – How will you test their understanding? Who will test their understanding?

Sell the benefits of the system

During this training, you NEED to sell the benefits of the system to your staff to get them excited about its deployment. Suze Howell – Strategic Communications and Change Director at Enthuse Communications said “try getting the people who you know are going to HATE the change and get them to try and test it first. Get them to share their opinions on it. If the biggest nay-say can become your champion, that will help!”

Think about what’s in it for the staff, what can they get out of the system? How does it make their life easier? How will it save them time? How will it reduce stress and worry? You need to drive home every benefit during the training process to get everyone on board.

Get feedback throughout the process

Eranga Pathirage HR Director EMEA & Global Comms at Virtusa gave us some insights following some learnings he faced following recent technological enhancement projects. He suggested:

  • Involve experts from day zero till the end of transition and implementation of new systems (technical, functional, managerial).
  • Run a change management process in parallel to technical solution/migration of systems which would involve seeking inputs/feedback from various stakeholders, educating how the new system should enhance user experience, communicating and updating progress, milestones and key timelines with an expectation from all parties involved.
  • Account enough time for UAT and a parallel run with old and new systems until a new system is functional at its full potential.
  • Establish an easily accessible support function to handle queries/provide guidance post implementation of new systems. 

Migrating to a new system doesn’t have to be difficult. If you put in enough time and planning then you can significantly reduce the chance of any potential problems when deploying your new solution. The key things to remember are to keep continuous communication, involvement, transparency and training from the very beginning of the process, the further in advance you communicate with your workforce the better your transition will be!


Other posts that may be of interest to you:

What you should do if comfort is killing your digital transition

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Top 5 tips for executing your digital transition strategy

Why non-desk employees resist digital change

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Written by Hayley Lloyd

Published 14th February 2019