- Many operations don’t anticipate workforce resistance to implementing new mobile technology.
- Managers should prepare a strategic plan to increase adoption rates in case resistance occurs.
- Following proven strategies, such as influencer promotion and gamification, can facilitate smoother change management and increase user acceptance.
You’ve done your research, built a strong business plan, found the right vendor and received the green light from your management team to implement new mobile barcoding software in your warehouse.
If so, you’re in good company – more than half of supply chain companies surveyed plan to equip workers with mobile barcoding technology by 2022.
You may be excited by new efficiencies the technology will bring. But you may not have anticipated any push back from employees during implementation.
Employee acceptance of new technology is not a guarantee. Securing user adoption may require the same forethought and care as building a new business plan.
In our 36-years of experience, we’ve identified a few industry-best change management principles that can increase user adoption.
1. Consider a Gradual Implementation Process
Planning for a gradual implementation process with guided training is an important first step.
Employees should be grouped together based on intended use of the new technology. This ensures they learn just enough to effectively use the solution, but not so much that they become overwhelmed by superfluous features beyond the scope of their duties.
For example, training sessions can be grouped around:
- Functional Training – This should include basic system concepts, functionalities and components to give new users the fundamental skills needed to navigate the system.
- Technical Training – IT personnel and the development team should receive training on installing, customizing, upgrading and maintaining the new solution.
- Total Knowledge Transfer Training – For managers and master users. An intensive, hands-on program to gain a complete understanding of the solution, learn master concepts and pick up nuances and shortcuts.
Crafting these tailored training tracks can help speed onsite training of new users and employees by 80%, while also increasing user confidence.
2. Champion and Promote Influencers
Empowering a few key players to serve as champions of the new technology can also increase adoption rates. This peer group will serve as “influencers” throughout your operation to coach other employees on how to use the technology. Ideally, these influencers should have good communication and networking skills and, most importantly, be enthusiastic about the positive changes the new technology will bring.
If you anticipate resistance from your sections of older workforce, try teaming them up with younger employees, who may be digital enthusiasts and familiar with, or more naturally receptive, to the new technology. Simply working side-by-side can boost older employees’ confidence.
3. Choose the Right Hardware
Choosing the right hardware that meets your employees’ specific needs can also help increase adoption rates.
Will you let employees bring their own consumer devices (BYOD) or purchase purpose-built hardware? Consider screen size, the feel of the device in a worker’s hand, the ruggedness of the environment and how comfortable your workforce is with technology in general. Also take into consideration the tasks being performed with the device.
Older workforces may need the larger screen of a purpose-built device while younger workforces may be more comfortable using their own devices.
4. Focus on the Benefits Employees Care About the Most
Think about the new technology as an investment in the people you work with, not just how it will impact your bottom line. This will help you focus on the benefits they care about the most.
For example, mobile barcoding eliminates cumbersome, repetitive tasks and lets workers complete other tasks more efficiently and with greater accuracy. This can reduce stress, both mental and physical, in turn boosting job satisfaction and reducing injury rates.
With increased productivity, workers can take pride in being a useful, contributing member of the team, especially if they can be reallocated to more important projects.
5. Incentivize the Use of Mobile Barcoding Software
Sometimes, even after following all of the above strategies, you still run into resistance. This is a good time to implement incentive programs that offer rewards, both tangible and intangible, for continued use of the new technology.
These incentives could include:
- Offering gift cards for using the new technology and hitting KPI goals
- Fostering constructive competition by displaying the productivity leaderboard or other gamification
- Rewarding employees with workplace perks
And more – you know what works best for your teams.
6. Boosting Adoption, Initially and Beyond
Receiving approval to implement your new technology feels great, but it’s only the start.
You may be fully invested in the implementation and excited by adding advanced functionality to your operation. Your workforce, however, may not immediately feel the same way.
Be prepared for some initial pushback and ready to “sell” its advantages to your workforce by:
- Planning for a gradual implementation process with user-specific training
- Ensuring your hardware matches your workforces’ intended use
- Focusing on the benefits to the people, not just the operation
- Recruiting influencers to promote adoption
- Incorporating an incentive program
The last result you want is to invest in a new technology only to have it sit untouched by your workforce. By taking the time to develop a plan in advance, you’ll be better prepared to win over your employees, gain their trust and buy-in, and ensure ROI and the other benefits of your new solution.