2020-04-12 06:34:14    Robert E. Smith, PhD, Founder, The Change Shop

Lessons Learned from a Tech Firm's Tech Implementation

San Francisco-based Square is a financial and merchant services aggregator probably best known for its 'Square Reader' that allows users to accept credit card payments on their mobile phone and its other 'little-known' App--CashApp. Despite its status as a Silicon Valley powerhouse, even Square had to deal with technology implementation challenges. Square's People Technology Product Manager, Saumya Chopra shared some lessons learned from implementing and deploying their Applicant Tracking System (ATS), a software tool that supports web-based handling of recruitment and hiring needs.


What’s the Challenge you had to Overcome?

Launching a new Applicant Tracking System with minimal disruption to ongoing recruiting activity. We needed to ensure all our users-hiring managers, interviewers and of course, the recruiting team were well prepared for the change and trained on the new system.


What did you do to solve it?

An effective rollout is dependent on several things, but the main stages are pre-implementation, go live and post go live. We wanted to have a clear approach to roll out and below are a few things we did:

Begin with requirements: Be clear on why this change and what you are hoping to achieve and get buy-in

Set expectations: Once the tool is selected, be clear on what will be better and what may be worse. Over-communicate and make sure everyone knows that not everything will improve, but it will still be worth the change.

What’s in it for me: Make sure all involved parties know what will change for them - new tool, new layout, new process. More importantly, address the question of why this change is needed.

Cutover plan: Have a clear plan for the cutover. This is the most critical piece of implementation. Make sure your key players have clear, documented steps to take to move from one system to another.

Provide support: Make sure there are multiple channels for support. Email, In person, Phone-whatever is feasible

Documentation: Make sure there is a reference guide for those that hesitate to ask or those that can’t easily reach any support lines due to time zone differences or for other reasons.


What was your biggest learning?

Not everyone likes to ask:  Some people may not want to ask. Its human nature-you don’t want to appear to not know stuff. Make sure they can reference written documentation and clear FAQs.

Keep it simple:  Make sure the process is as intuitive as possible
and the system setup is easy to understand and follow. Use the system to guide the user as far as possible. Limit errors by providing guardrails through validations and on-screen instructional text.

People will want to vent:  Change is hard, and we are all people. Sometimes users just want to complain to vent and share their pain. Providing some forum for this becomes important. Have retro sessions, check-ins, office hours where people can just share their experience. This makes adoption much easier.

Give it time: With time, even the biggest change becomes easier to accept and adopt. Take it for granted that there will be a lot of disruption when the change happens but eventually, things will settle down. Users will adjust to the new tool, new processes and a lot of things will become much easier


What was your biggest mistake?

A lot of the lessons above are from hindsight. We didn’t prepare for the ‘people angle’ enough and expected users to be ready based on all the training we had provided. We didn’t do a great job of showing empathy for the people that had to experience this change and had to shift focus quickly to address some of these concerns.

“…we didn’t prepare for the people angle enough and expected users to be ready…"

At the end of the day, we are all people working together, and that should be top of mind when thinking of change management and asking someone to function or behave differently.


Start a conversation with us to discuss ways to include the “people angle” to your system implementation.

An early draft of this post appeared on HROS Spark.


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