Meryl Johnston, Founder & CEO, Bean Ninjas

Bean Ninjas is an online bookkeeping firm that caters to online businesses. They’re not your traditional bookkeepers. Bean Ninjas were named Xero Bookkeeping Partner of the Year (QLD) in 2017 and were finalists in the Bookkeeping Firm of the Year at the 2018 Australian Accounting Awards. Meryl is a Chartered Accountant and entrepreneur. Prior to Bean Ninjas she ran a cloud accounting consulting firm, worked in both commercial accounting roles, as an auditor (BDO), and as a lecturer in accounting and audit.

Process is the backbone of productivity. Teams thrive on routines and processes to keep work organized and goals on track. However, sometimes poor processes are detrimental to productivity. If processes are inefficient or ignored, things fall through the cracks and people start pointing fingers.

When it came time for us to evaluate our processes, we found a lot of room for improvement. As a team of 12 distributed across six countries, it was extremely important for us to establish an efficient process for getting work done. As the number of managers grew across teams, so did the need for automatic reporting. Since Trello wasn’t able to provide that level for reporting, we decided to look into changing our processes and tools altogether.

Coordinating across time zones is a project in and of itself. Requests, approvals, and revisions can take weeks just corresponding back and forth. The three biggest challenges for our distributed team are:

  • Uniting on communication and culture
  • Finding and accessing important information
  • Rolling out and learning a new tool

We needed to figure out a way to streamline our processes so our distributed team could function like a well-oiled machine.

Embracing change management

It can be a difficult and time-consuming project to change the software that underpins your business.

Giving your team the option of using a new tool can result in a less than 30% adoption rate—at which point, there really is no point in having it at all. So it’s very important to get the right buy-in upfront from everyone who will be using the new software.

We found there are three distinct phases of change management and key steps to successfully get your team on board with a new software:

1. We involved the team in the buy-in

Switching to Wrike: Implementing Change Management Across Distributed Teams

If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail. Have an open discussion with your team from the start and involving them in the process of evaluating a new tool will increase your chances of adoption and usage. Here are the steps I recommend:

  1. Obtain feedback: We had everyone in the loop from the start. We discussed why we planned on changing tools and how we thought everyone would benefit from it.
  2. Conduct a survey: We created a survey that asked our team what their biggest pain points are with the current software. What do they like? What would they like the change?
  3. Agree on qualifications: We decided what capabilities are a must-have in our new software and aligned on how this tool was going to help us achieve our goals.
  4. Rank contenders: We listed out the softwares we were vetting and ranked them based on which ones met the most qualifications.
  5. Test software: We chose a couple to test out. Then had a team member check out the areas of the software that were most important to our team.
  6. Select software: Once our team came to a consensus on which tool is best, they were motivated and excited to start using their new tool.

Our Wrike implementation was easier because we received upfront buy-in on why we needed to change systems. We also understood the pain points of different team members and were able to explain how the new software would solve them.

2. We prioritized implementation

Implementation is such a crucial process when changing work management tools. Wrike is a flexible tool and we wanted to ensure we set it up so that we could map it to our goals in the best way possible. Here’s how we onboarded with Wrike

  1. Identified our internal Wrike Champion: Scheduled an initial kickoff call with our Wrike Champion and managers to go over goals and expectations.
  2. Tested Wrike: Identified an accountant who would be the lead in rolling out the first test. After two months of testing, we rolled it out to the team.
  3. Set up training: We set deadlines for everyone on the team to complete the training and created our own training videos on how we want our team to use the software. Once training ended, we had different team members present a screenshare in Wrike so we could make sure they understood the new workflow.
  4. Obtain feedback: We frequently touched base with our team and asked for their input on the new setup. They’re much more likely to follow a new process when they’re involved in creating it.

3. We continually monitor & optimize

Switching to Wrike: Implementing Change Management Across Distributed Teams

Be patient and don’t expect everyone to learn and adopt the new software in a week. We continue to monitoring our team’s usage and feedback so we’re open to new ways of using the tool. We’re constantly asking ourselves: How can we optimize new features? What existing integrations would be useful for our team?

We want to ensure we make the most of our powerful new project management software. This means seeking to review the way we are working and to make incremental small improvements. These small changes

Key lessons learned

Change management doesn’t have to be hard. Here are some key lessons we learned when implementing a new tool.

  • Devote time for trainings. We significantly underestimated how many hours it would take us for implementation which created internal resourcing issues.
  • Diversify trainings. Schedule group training, but also host one-on-one sessions to ensure that each team member is understanding the nuances of the new system.
  • Motivate teams to use the tool. Encourage managers to lead their team with the adoption of the new software or set up some reward for their first completed project to incentivize them.
  • Be patient. Understand that adopting a new tool takes time, but continue to monitor and make sure usage is improving.
  • Be open to feedback. Where there is push-back from the team about the new software listen to their concerns and look into whether there is a better way to organize work by automating repeatable tasks.
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