The success of any software implementation lies in the hands of the people who are going to use the system. Ultimately, you can implement the best technology in the world, but if you can’t get people to adopt it and use it in the way it is intended, it is not going to have the desired outcomes. However, people fundamentally do not like change; it can mean uncertainty, a loss of control, unwelcome surprises and the feeling that everything is unfamiliar. Whilst it is unlikely to ever eliminate this discomfort entirely, communicating effectively throughout every stage of the project plays a vital role in mitigating this and ensuring the success of the project. This article provides tips and best practice on how to manage these communications effectively.
What Should I Communicate and When?
Adoption rates and user satisfaction have proven to be higher in organizations that provide a regular cadence of communication both before, during and after deployment. The content and frequency of your communications, as well as who you will involve in the process and the most effective method for doing so, will depend on the size and complexity of your organization and solution but generally it is worth bearing the following in mind at each stage:
During Project Launch
When a change is first announced, employees need information. Communications should focus on helping them to understand what is happening and why, and help them to realise the positive implications of the change. When introducing Beamery for the first time it is therefore helpful to focus on the bigger picture and offering context around why the organization is making the change, the benefits of doing so and the overall goals and vision of the project. This narrative should be agreed upon as a project or leadership team so everyone is comfortable articulating it to a wider audience.
The Discovery phase is critical to any Beamery onboarding process; it allows us to truly understand your organization and talent acquisition challenges and goals and customize our solution with those in mind. However the Discovery phase can also be extremely useful part of the communications and change management process, Not only does it enable you to understand any concerns or objections and address these early in the process; but also people tend to respond more favourably to the implementation when their input and opinions are taken into consideration. So whilst it is impractical to consult and try and cater to every single person’s views, asking for, and acknowledging feedback from key stakeholders can help to overcome any resistance and make the project more likely to succeed.
Hopefully by the time you get to the implementation stage, all of the key stakeholders will have a good understanding of Beamery, why it is being introduced, and what you hope to achieve. Having completed the discovery process, you should also have some additional clarity around user questions and concerns which you can continue to address throughout the process as well as reinforcing the overall vision and benefits.
During implementation you can start to become more granular in your communications and start discussing next steps and how you are going to achieve the vision. During this time the focus will be on key project team members and key stakeholders who will be involved in the implementation, but this is still a great opportunity to keep the wider audience engaged and informed as well.
Training has a critical role to play in delivering successful implementations. By the time we begin rolling out training to wider users, they should already be clear on why Beamery is being implemented, the changes they can expect and what it means for them. Whilst this message will be reiterated through every stage, communications during training this phase can therefore focus more on the logistics of training, and on ensuring that all users are left with the knowledge, skills and confidence to use the system effectively in their roles.
Beamery advocates a modular approach to training where possible, with a number of face-to-face or video training sessions on key features of the platform, supported by pre and post session communication materials. In this way users have plenty of notice and time to prepare for the session and are left with reference guides, help documents and videos, and knowledge checks to continue the learning at their own pace and in the style that best suits them. Where possible, we also believe that training is most effective when tailored to specific audiences (by region, function or type of recruitment role e.g sourcing/ employer branding etc.) In this way we can ensure that everyone has a consistent knowledge and overview of the system, but can equally focus on the areas of the platform that are going to give users the maximum value in their particular roles, and train them on the ways of using it in their particular workflows.
Organizations can sometimes be guilty of focussing all of their communication efforts at the start of the implementation project with little thought given as to how to manage the dialogue beyond the first couple of months. However this longer term planning is often the key to embedding long-term, sustainable change.
At this point in the process users are typically looking for encouragement; they need to hear that the change was for a good reason. Communications in this phase should celebrate successes and achievements, and showcase how far everyone has come. It is also the time for iterating and refining processes, expanding the remit and getting new stakeholders involved, to continue building on the success.
Top tips for effective communication
- Communicate the WHY
Often companies focus on communicating what they are implementing and how they will do so, but critically neglect to talk about why the change is necessary. Educating people on why you are implementing Beamery, what you are hoping to achieve and tying these changes to the broader talent and business strategy is crucial.
Plan communications in advance and allow adequate time
Recruiters are busy. If you are asking them to attend training, or workshops or to complete surveys with little or no notice, this can lead to feelings of resentment towards the process. Instead work with you Beamery Customer Success Lead to plan these communications in advance, so you can allow them adequate time to manage diaries and complete your requests.
Often companies focus all their communication efforts on one part of the implementation journey. They announce the system is coming to great fanfare and then nothing, or they don’t announce it at all until it goes live. Creating true engagement and adoption requires consistent communications through every stage of onboarding and beyond.
Listen to feedback
Make the communications process a genuine two way dialogue with key stakeholders and users. Not only does this help with securing buy-in and adoption of the CRM, but it offers you valuable different perspectives and flags issues that may otherwise have been overlooked. This enables you to implement the system in a way that will be embraced by a wider audience, and to mitigate any risks much earlier in the process.
Openly tackle questions and concerns
At each stage of onboarding, users should know how to, and feel comfortable raising questions and concerns. Whilst these can be challenging and time-consuming to address, this is a critical step in allaying any fears and keeping users engaged with the process. Having a public forum for Frequently Asked Questions and Project Team responses is a great way of achieving this and disseminating information.
Think beyond email
Whilst emails can be an effective and necessary tool to communicate at scale, messages can sometimes get lost in busy inboxes and they don’t easily encourage two way dialogue. The most effective communications will therefore involve a combination of email and face-to-face meetings, roadshows, surveys or intranet forums where people can come together to discuss the changes, and where they can digest information at their own pace.
Communicate the positive
It is easy to slip into functional and corporate communication mode to share necessary information; but making communications fun and engaging, launching competitions, celebrating small successes, and sharing good news stories is often equally, if not more effective in driving adoption of new software.
Engage beyond the Talent Acquisition community
Whilst the end-users of Beamery undoubtedly will, and indeed should be the main focus of your communications efforts, there will be other stakeholders who will have an interest in the project and who will need to be kept in the loop. Think about who will be impacted during each stage, (IT, Finance teams, other supplier partners, hiring managers, executive leadership etc), what they need to know, and the best way of communicating that information.
Be mindful of other project risk factors
Communication and user engagement is a critical component of effective change management, but it’s not the only component. You can have a perfectly executed communications plan, but if for example, your team does not have the adequate resources or structure to be successful, or if Recruiters are incentivised in way that isn’t conducive to driving the behaviours you would like them to exhibit, this will equally jeopardise the success of the project. Your Beamery Success contact will be on hand to support you in identifying any potential risk areas and designing solutions to manage these.