Getting New Software? Been There. Done That.

Getting New Software? Been There. Done That.

Bethany Doss knows a thing or two about change management.

When her company, Capital Lumber, moved to a new software system, she helped coordinate the “go-live” process across eight branches, seven states and 220 employees.

Doss describes what managing this major transition was like, and offers advice for other companies in similar situations.

Biggest Challenge
“The hardest part of going live, by far, was training. Everyone had good intentions, but people are busy. The last thing they want to do is stay late to test software. A lot of people thought, ‘We’re smart. We’ll just figure it out as we go.’ The branches that thought they could wing it really struggled when we went live. The branches that made time for their training were much more successful.”

Biggest Surprise
“We underestimated the psychology of change. Everyone is a little scared of change, whether we admit it or not. Most of our people had been doing the same thing in the same way for 20 years. Switching to a different system was a huge deal. There was a ton of fear and trepidation, and that’s something we had to work through.”

Biggest Victory
“Overcoming people’s fear about the project. We were able to take what probably appeared to be a pretty miserable process and turn it into, ‘hey, this is a new opportunity for us, we’ve never done some of this stuff before, it’s going to make our business more efficient.’ And it really changed people’s mindsets from total dread to optimism. I think that was probably the most interesting and the most rewarding part of the go-live.”

What I Would Do Differently
“If I were to do it all over again, I would focus a little bit harder on daily communication. Just a, ‘hey where are we, what’s falling through the cracks, do we really think this branch is on target.’ We’d have been more successful if we attacked issues as a group more often. We got stuff done, but stronger communication would’ve made things a lot easier.”

Advice for Other Companies
“I have two pieces of advice. First, be ready to invest the time, resources and energy that it takes to do the implementation successfully. Depending on the size of your business, it should take you a while. Second, make sure you’re using every piece of talent you have within your organization. Take your blinders off, look outside your immediate circle and get participation from every part of your company, including Operations. We got through roadblocks because we tapped into the strengths of our entire talent pool at Capital.

Read more about Bethany’s experience here.