If you come from a non-tech or a tech background, or if you’re a developer, we all want the same thing. The software we develop should be used and to provide value to users. No one wants to waste time and resources, developing the greatest piece of software only to have it released to the market or within their organization, and have it floundering around for a while then forgotten about.
There are 5 key steps you can follow that will help you deliver and deploy your product that will be used by users who will be raving about it.
The 5 steps to effectively roll out software are:
- Find your champion
- Rally the troops, get your team on board
- Make your initial users experts through training
- Pick your timing
- Stakeholders, Stakeholders, Stakeholders
Find your champion
What I mean by champion is that one person who will take the new software as a challenge and learn it. This person will become the resident expert and will be the go-to person for anyone else. These people are usually the “Early Adopters” on the Technology Adoption Life Cycle. They want to get their hand on it early and as soon as they can.
It doesn’t matter if you’re developing a product for an established organization or you’re a startup, if you’re a techy or a non-tech person. Your champions are important and critical to the success of your software rollout.
If you’re developing in house software, then the champion can be one of your team members. If you’re developing a new product as a startup then the champions will be one of your early user bases. They will be the people who will defend you on social media, provide unofficial support and help other users in using your product as they believe in your product and want it to succeed.
Your champions will become your unofficial brand ambassadors, loudest users, and best supporters. They learn the ins and outs of your software, figure out workarounds, and little hacks to make things easier. This is why you need them to help you help other users and get your software in front of more people.
Rally the troops, get your team on board
You don’t have to be in the military to rally the troops. In this scenario, your troops are your stakeholders. You need to get your stakeholders involved in the process from ideation, through development to deployment. Your stakeholders are the actual people who have a vested interest in the software, they will either use it or obtain value in some form.
Without getting your stakeholders on board and without their support, you will be unable to get mass adoption. When rolling out your software you don’t need to push back and resistance from the people involved. Change is always difficult. So it is immensely critical in the adaptation process of getting your stakeholders on board, and making them understand what the software can do and how it will help them.
Make your initial users experts through training
A common problem with rolling out software is the resistance to change which even increases when users find it too difficult to operate. You need to factor in training for your initial users and make sure that they become experts in the software and are able to navigate their way around effectively.
If they struggle to use it and are not trained on how to use it they will struggle and your rollout will stop in its tracks.
Think of it like as playing a game!
Most games take users through introductory levels, concepts, and then build up their skills. You need to approach your training the same way to get users familiar with the interface, concepts, and how to do the things they need to do.
These users will eventually help you improve your training material which will then help with onboarding more and more users.
Don’t forget that people learn and respond to content in different ways. This is why a simple user manual just won’t cut it. You need to have videos, webinars, and hands-on training.
When you’re a startup releasing a new product, you need to follow this pattern as well. You need to provide enough material in various formats. You don’t have the luxury to advise your staff through a company-wide email that they must use your software as part of a new process.
Pick your timing
As they say “timing is everything” and it can really help or screw up your roll-out. Whether you’re a startup or an organization the timing of the roll-out will make a huge impact.
Imagine releasing a new update or product then you take a holiday for 2 weeks.
How many problems or issues could arise that you are not there to assist with?
How would this affect the uptake and roll-out?
You can see that timing is key as you need to be available and be there to help users. It’s never a good idea to release when you can’t be available or to roll-back to previous versions and prevent people from using your app or doing their job.
More resistance could be found in bad timing.
What would happen to a large critical project if you forced a switch to the new software?
How much time and effort would be added to a deadline if there were problems in the migration, something was overlooked or bugs are not addressed in a timely manner?
When you start your rollout process, make ensure you have everyone who needs to be available, is available. Make ensure that it’s not clashing with another critical moment in your startup or your organization, and give your product the time it deserves to get in front of users.
Stakeholders, stakeholders, stakeholders
Don’t build software that you yourself won’t use without getting your stakeholders involved. Stakeholders are key to developing software for the right purpose. They help identify the value that needs to be added at each level.
Generally, the person commissioning the software is a few levels separated from the day-to-day users and don’t understand the complexities and nuances of what the software is replacing. This is mostly true when the development of software takes place inside an organization.
In saying that, stakeholders need to be involved not only in the ideation and feedback process but also in the roll-out phase as well. Usually, the stakeholders will either have received value from the software in some form or they will be the day-to-day users.
You need to coordinate with them and work with them to roll-out software, so that they use and use it well.
It doesn’t matter if you’re in the middle of a project or haven’t even started, yet these tips will help you create or change your plan to more effectively roll out your product.
Without an effective roll-out strategy, your software is pretty much dead!
Timing and a good strategy will make all the difference between floundering software or software that excels in its uptake, usage, and adoption.