While I’ve been at Greenwood, we have changed software systems a few times. When leading through a software system change, I’ve learned a few things from mistakes and successes. I’m writing this post from the perspective of the person in charge of the system, though it will be applicable to anyone working through a software system change.

Leading through a Software System Change requires that you know your team.

Whether everyone reports directly to you or not isn’t the point. The point is that you know the strengths and weaknesses (and roles) of each of the people who will be using the software on a regular basis. You need a clear idea of what you want the end result to look like so that you can be aimed at the target from the start.

To really lead through this system change, you’ll need to be present at each training so that you can assess how well people understand their role in the new software. During the training you will want to be paying attention to how well others understand the training. You need to have gone through the text or video training beforehand so that you will be able to help your team ask appropriate questions.

You’ll need to make sure that each user has the appropriate permissions for their tasks, and ONLY those permissions. You’ll need to explain that they are assigned certain permissions in the software so that they are protected from messing up something in another area. Try and help them understand its a protection, not a penalty.

Leading through a Software System Change requires that you know the software.

This seems pretty simple – but it isn’t. You need to devote several hours per week to learning the ins and outs of the new system. I try and go through all of the text and video trainings I can find. I do it until I feel like I haven’t learned anything new in few weeks. Then I know that I’ve mastered the software and will be able to answer most questions that users have. I also know how to find support when I don’t know the answer, which leads me to…

Leading through a Software System Change requires that you get to know the support team for the software.

I know the names of the all of the tech support people with our software systems. I think it serves two purposes. First, I can build a relationship with these people (If you’re reading this blog you likely work at a church and we’re all about that!). Second, I learn the hierarchy and the roles of each person. One software system that we use has 4 support people and I know who their supervisor is. I know when I need to talk to the supervisor and when I do not. If it’s a simple question – I call support like normal. If there is an apparent system issue – and there always will be – I contact the supervisor directly. When leading through a software system change I try and provide leadership in understanding the support team.

Conclusion

In order to really provide leadership through a software system change, you need to do these three things. I’ve probably over-simplified things, so if you have any other suggestions please leave them in the comments below. I really think that if you follow these bits of advice you will put yourself in a place where success is likely.

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