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10 tips for implementing new software

12th Jan 2022
Brought to you by
accountancymanager logo new 2022

Award winning CRM & practice management software

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Walking into your office and announcing that you’re using new software doesn’t work. As humans we like our routines and aren’t huge fans of change. So what does work?

Nothing upsets us more than seeing a business that would massively benefit from AccountancyManager, not adopting it once they sign up. In most cases, this is down to small pockets of employee resistance. 

The owners of these businesses are super-excited about AM. They want to automate, organise and connect everything up… Then, when it comes to getting the team on board, they cling to their spreadsheets and old processes for dear life.

Here are a few ideas on how to combat the big bad barrier of change. Note that the first five steps should start before your trial and implementation.

1. Ask your team about their frustrations

As soon as word starts spreading that you’re bringing in new software, people will start to put up mental barriers. So at the beginning, don’t make it about software, make it about solving your team’s problems. If your team knows that the new software will solve their gripes, they’re more likely to push through to change their habits. 

Before even mentioning new software, ask your team what their frustrations are. Then structure your software search, trial and implementation around these problems. 

2. Involve your team as early as possible

Change can be difficult, especially if it means tweaking long-held habits, but sudden change is much harder than gradual. If everyone at your practice feels like they are part of the journey and the decision-making process, you’re likely to have fewer ‘stick in the muds’ down the line. 

Why not start by signing everyone up to the free trial (most software has one). That way, they can have a play, instead of suddenly having to use unfamiliar software.

3. Align the change with your business goals

Taking your team on the journey includes giving them insight into your thought processes too. Why do you want to implement this software?

Make tangible connections between the vision for your business and what the software can do. Try to be specific, for example – how will the software help you: grow your client base, open more offices or deliver new services? Keep up with your competition? Keep clients happy? Support flexible working hours and locations? And how will you use the time you recoup?

4. Pick a tech ‘champion’ (or one for each team)

Every ‘how to implement new software’ article worth its salt will talk about nominating software ‘champions’. These are people dotted through your business that are as passionate about the new software as you are. 

Your AM champion will prioritise learning the new software and encourage other colleagues to embrace and grips with it. Perhaps they’ve used the software before, they’ve an interest in technology or they simply have infectious enthusiasm for a more efficient firm. 

5. Make a plan of attack

If your new software has a few features, decide the order you want to implement them. These could be areas of the software or specific processes in your firm you want to improve. 

Work with your software champions or your whole team to make sure everyone agrees and feels part of the plan. And don’t forget ‘SMART’ goals. Make your plan specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. 

When Anita Cocks at Tax and Financial was implementing AccountancyManager, she created a list of features – with links to videos in our help section – for her team to work through.

“I went through your videos, then created a template for my team saying, 'Okay, watch this video, then go down to this one…’ So they could easily learn about AccountancyManager and how it integrates with our work. From creating tasks to managing tasks, logging their time to doing anti-money-laundering checks to onboarding – it was all step by step.”

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6. Carve out time for exploring and learning new features

We know asking accountants to ‘find time’ is a tall order, but remember – you’ll make that time back when the software is up and running. Whether you bring your team together for training or let them learn alone, it’s a good idea to dedicate time to implementing your software. 

Consider buddying up your software champions with anyone that’s struggling.

7. Set realistic expectations

When software works and everyone’s happy, it’s a dream. We know, we see it a lot. But while the end result is an exciting new world, you need to be realistic about getting there. 

Remind people the journey you’re going on and that Rome certainly wasn’t built in a day!”

Using software is easy once you get the hang of it (if it’s designed well), but learning new processes does take work.  Explain this to your team, so they’re prepared to push through if they struggle to shake old habits.

8. Keep an eye on adoption and ask for feedback (constantly) 

Plan for any pushback in advance. Arrange regular check-ins where people can discuss how they’re getting on and any issues so far. 

People that are totally bought into your vision and open to using new technology may not need much encouragement. It’s those that are particularly comfortable with their routine you’ll need to focus on. If you leave it too late, they will strengthen the idea that the software ‘isn’t working'.

Keep going back to the ultimate goal to remind staff why you’re changing and provide extra support or training where needed. 

9. Take advantage of all the support you can get

Most software (AM included) will provide help and support in the form of online guides and videos. But what some of our new users forget, is the team of real people ready and waiting to help – with absolutely anything. 

Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone or ping over a quick email with any questions. Good support teams (like AM’s) will get back to you straight away and help solve problems however big or small.

Phoned us five times this week? No problem. Everyone has questions at the start. We’d rather have that sixth call than you suffer in silence.”

- Marcus Bellis, AM’s Head of Sales

If you ever wonder if something is possible, again, get in touch. If it is, support will talk you through it, if it’s not, your suggestion may just end up on the road map.

10. Stick to your guns

You decided to implement software to make your practice better. You have a vision of a more efficient, more future-ready firm. So don’t let negative vibes sway you along the way. 

Remind your team of the problems the software will solve and the alignment with your business values. Nip small issues in the bud early and prepare to give a bit of extra training if it’s needed. 

And always, always lean on support.

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