The time to ease your employees through a technology transition begins long before the new system lands on their desks. Start by notifying everyone about the upcoming change and soliciting their input. Ask key managers and other employees how they perform tasks now and how they think the current system can be improved. Not only does this make everyone feel included, but it also makes for more informed technology decisions.
Build excitement for the new technology by explaining to employees how it will help them accomplish tasks more quickly and easily. Illustrate the flaws in the existing system, and outline how the new hardware or software will improve the situation. That way, your staff is less likely to resist the impending change.
David Elles, 39, co-owner with his brother Karl, 45, of Caster Technology Corp., a small manufacturer and distributor of casters, wheels and materials-handling equipment in Garden Grove, California, is expanding the company's intranet to standardize policies and training procedures in the firm's four locations. He knows that to get his 30 employees to use the intranet, he's got to sell them on it. "I'm trying to find something practical and real that [employees] are going to believe in," says David Elles. "I've got to find their biggest problems and show them how to solve them by using the intranet."
When deciding on new technology, don't overreach. There's no use buying the latest feature-laden program if it's going to be too much for your employees to handle. Instead, go with technology you're relatively familiar with. That's what Justin Bonds and Joe Hurley, both 22, did when they were looking for a new accounting system for their Clinton, Arkansas, Web design firm, Hyper Tech Inc. One reason they decided on Peachtree Office Accounting from Peachtree Software is that it had features they already knew how to use. Peachtree Office Accounting integrates with Microsoft Office productivity applications, so the interface and many of its features are very intuitive. "Since I've already used Microsoft Office," says Bonds, "it was really easy to get up and running."