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Once in a while, you find a piece of software that will revolutionize the way your company works. Maybe you've found a bookkeeping tool that cuts hours off of the way you send out invoices or perhaps an online application that lets you share information and delegate tasks with your co-workers so that everyone knows exactly what they should be working on. You may get pretty excited about the changeover-at least until you have to get the rest of the office up to speed on that new piece of software. Trying to get a whole group of people switched over to a new tool at the same time can be tough. If your office includes employees at different technical levels, it can be even harder.
However, with a little planning, the process can be easier to handle. While you may still encounter some difficulties as you make the switch, you can make sure that new users have all the information they need and are better equipped to make the change without needing someone to explain the same process four times over.
Create Your Own Documentation
Most new software will come with tutorials, guides and other information to help you start using it, but if your company doesn't use the exact same terminology, you can wind up with confused co-workers. Invest a little time in writing step-by-step instructions for the specific tasks people in your office will need to complete. Or, instead of writing, you can also capture a quick video tutorial with a tool like Screenr.com (push the 'Record' button on the website and it will record whatever you do on your computer desktop).
It's especially important to offer documentation if you're working with a piece of software with lots of options. If you need everyone at your business to complete particular tasks in the same way, you'll need to tell them so. If you rely on them figuring out software on their own, they'll pick their own options, which may not match up with everyone else's.
Set a Timeline for the Switch
Especially important if you need to convert old data over into a new format, you'll want to have a deadline for when you'll be using only the new software. For some tools, that may be a fairly immediate change-as soon as you've had a chance to pass out some documentation, you may expect everyone in the office to start using the new tool. When you've got a lot of older data in place, however, you may only be able to get new projects or teams switched over to the new tool immediately. You may find it necessary that a team working on a project started with the older software will need to complete that project with the same software. If the switch has to be drawn out, it's important to have deadlines in mind for the conversion.
Offer to Answer Questions in a Group Setting
The odds are pretty good that any new users have similar questions when it comes to a particular piece of software, especially if they're all completing similar tasks. If you can answer those questions in a group setting, where everyone can hear the answers together, you can avoid answering the same questions over and over. And any users who haven't run into that problem will know what to do when they get that far. The setting can vary, depending on what's most convenient for your office. Maybe a meeting where everyone gets together for a few minutes would be useful. If all employees are not actually in the same office at the same time, an online discussion may be much more useful.
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