Be honest: Out of all the tools you have at your disposal, how many are you actually using?
As all operations folks can relate, it’s the worst feeling in the world when the tool you worked so hard to launch is left to gather dust. New tools require a lot of time and money to implement — so when those tools go unused, all that investment goes down the drain.
With the rapid shift to digital buying, this is only going to become a bigger problem. Between 2020 and 2023, worldwide investment in digital transformation is expected to hit $6.8 trillion. If you don’t make every investment count, you risk losing out on massive ROI.
So, as an operator, what can you do to ensure people will use the tools you buy?
The secret isn’t to build a certain technical skillset or put users through rigorous product training. It’s making sure everyone understands how the tool enables them in their day-to-day work.
Here are the four steps every ops person needs to successfully launch a new tool 👇
1. Focus on the Why and Reiterate It (Over and Over Again)
Whether you’re introducing the tool for the first time or you’re in the final stages of implementation, always go back to the question: “Why do we need this tool?”
Answering the “why” is the most straightforward way to sell your tool to internal stakeholders. By clearly outlining the benefits that users can expect to gain, people will be more willing to use the tool once it’s been rolled out.
The more refined your answer is the better. That means you need to be conscious of how users will approach the tool differently based on their role in the company. Spend time figuring out how the tool will fit into each user’s workflow and pinpoint why the tool is useful specifically for them.
Once you’ve grasped the “why,” fit it into all your conversations — every email, presentation, Slack, etc. Don’t be afraid to sound like a broken record. Ultimately, you want these benefits to pop into a person’s mind every time they hear about this tool.
2. Make Sure You Have Buy-In from Leadership
The first people you need to show value to are the leaders because they are the ones who will make or break your launch. If you can’t convince them that your tool is great, then it simply won’t fly.
That’s why this is the best place to do the groundwork for your launch. Leaders often know where their team is struggling so they can effectively judge whether a new tool will help. Take this opportunity to test the strength of your messaging and refine it with their insights.
You can also get their opinion on the project plan and timeline of your launch. By the end of the conversation, you’ll be better prepared to pitch your tool to everyone else.
Leaders can be your strongest detractors but, once they buy into the tool, they can become your strongest advocates. Then, you can rely on them to champion the tool when you’re not around, even after launch.
3. Test Drive the Tool with a Pilot Group
What better way to show how awesome a tool is than letting people take it for a spin 🏎
A pilot group is a small group of people who will test drive your tool. To get the most out of this, you want a diverse pilot group: different teams, backgrounds, tenures, etc. And don’t shy away from the people who ask a lot of questions or pick out every flaw — their feedback will help improve the tool in the long run.
After testing, implement as much of the group’s feedback as possible. All these insights will ensure the launch goes smoothly. What’s more, your pilot group can then help advocate for your tool, especially to fellow teammates who are more likely to trust the opinions of their peers.
4. Pick the KPIs to Measure the Success of Your Launch — and Measure Them
It is incredibly easy to skip over this step. But without setting key performance indicators (KPIs), you won’t be able to tell if your launch was successful.
Choose KPIs based on the “why.” That way, you can gauge whether the tool is working as intended. Also, make sure those metrics are important to leaders and users alike. You want to be speaking their language when you go back to evaluate the launch.
Another important thing to identify is when you’re going to measure these KPIs — will it be one month, six months, or a year after launch? By clearly defining what your KPIs are and when you plan to measure them, you will have an easier time declaring your launch a success or making adjustments in the future.
When it comes to implementing a new tool, it’s important that the launch goes smoothly. But it’s even more important that you make sure the tool is something people will actually use.
No one wants their tools to take up space on the runway without anyone to fly them. So, the next time you’re launching a tool, follow these four steps to introduce a tool that will make people’s lives easier and help your company hit its goals faster.