How to plan a successful software roll-out

The launch of your new ITONICS software should be planned thoroughly in advance to maximize the benefits of using the Innovation OS. 

Rolling out software to multiple teams at once can come with some pitfalls if not planned thoroughly, and could result in bad user experience from the get go. 

A roll-out plan defines the scope, goals and timelines, communication and support channels, and your onboarding approach. With a solid roll-out plan,  you can engage your new users in the right way using the right channels and set your organization up for success right from the start. We recommend these steps based on our experience over more than a decade with a variety of global clients, across industries: 

1. Scope of the roll-out

There are two strategies you can use to guide your software launch: 

  • Company or department-wide roll-out (also called Big Bang roll-out) 
  • Soft roll-out (or power user roll-out)

Big Bang Roll-Out

As the name suggests, this approach launches the platform to a large user base, for instances across all sites and departments.

Ideally, this is done at non-critical times, such as weekends, public holidays or vacation periods. The goal should be that the platform is fully available for the end user at the defined time. 

Soft Roll-Out 

With a soft roll-out, the platform is introduced along a sequence of steps. This allows the onboarding process to be performed more thoroughly by going through it step-by-step. This approach requires a more resource-intensive process, and soft roll-outs only target a specific (smaller) group of users such as one department, user group, or business unit. This roll-out plan should therefore start with naming the department(s) or business unit(s) that would be the first to adopt the platform.

This approach allows application owners to collect feedback after the soft launch, and integrate the feedback to the platform iteratively before the software will be rolled out company-wide. In this way, the application owner(s) gain valuable experience early on.

2. Goals

The goal should be to create a roll-out that is seamless and delightful. To do this, as an application owner, try to think like a user, and not an administrator.

Two central answers should become evident to users:

  1. What added value does the new platform deliver to me?
  2. Is it clear what my role is on the platform, and what tasks I would need to perform? 

Consider that your users likely already work with other platforms and that they may view this new platform onboarding as additional work. Think of what will interest specific users most and present them with how the software will address their current pain points and address the advantages they would gain by working with the system. 

First impressions last. Consider how to make the first impressions on the platform impactful. Ensure that everything is planned well and that users can easily find their way on the system. It should be clearly defined and obvious to users which role they have, and which activities they can and should perform on the platform (Create, Read, Update, Delete). 

Pro Tip: Take on the role of the user. As an administrator, you see everything and have all rights. Log in with another role to see the system from the users’ point of view. When entering the system for the first time - is everything clear? Do you understand what to do immediately?  

3. Timeline

The plan for introducing the new platform should include the preparation for the roll-out, the roll-out itself, and the time after the roll-out. The timeline for a roll-out is different for each system and depends on the scope of the use case(s), roll-out scope and internal requirements. Therefore, the proposed timeline should serve as a guidance. The starting point is a foreseeable roll-out and thus an already configured system. 

3-4 months 

  • Create a roll-out plan
  • Prep your IT team/registration/login process
  • Fill the platform with first content 
  • Create a communication plan/prep your marketing team

1-2 months

  • Talk with test users/Business Units to validate the use cases
  • Gather and implement feedback from test users
  • Finalize the roll-out content/landing page/brand management
  • Announce the roll-out

2-3 weeks

  • Get the approval from the legal team
  • Announce the platform company wide

1 week

  • Go over the roll-out readiness checklist 
  • Intensively testing

Roll-out week

  • Make your roll-out an event 
  • Keep sharing the roll-out

After roll-out

  • Follow-up communication/share success story
  • Gather ongoing feedback 

4. Communication channel(s)

Effective communication is essential for a successful software roll-out. We recommend using a variety of channels to communicate before, during and after the roll-out to ensure that all potential users have access to the information. 

Emails are an effective way to communicate updates and announcements as all users will naturally have access to mails. We recommend sending newsletters straight from the ITONICS system to build familiarity and trust with the system. Emails are a great way to communicate with users, but this should not be the only way. 

When it comes to user onboarding, face-to-face or remote meetings are more personal and engaging. Consider conducting one or several onboarding sessions to introduce the new tool, which can be recorded for those who could not attend. 

Videos are engaging. Use them, for example, on your landing page to explain the purpose of the tool, or provide a user guide on how to navigate the system. 

Pro Tip: If you have a range of topics to cover, create one or two videos on specific topics instead of one long and overwhelming video. 

Most of the communication will center the user. Use internal “social” media tools, such as Slack, Teams, or Yammer groups to spread the news. In some cases, it is beneficial not only to address the user but also an audience outside your company to create attention. LinkedIn is a good channel to also share milestones or the success story of the newly launched platform to a larger community. Remember that the roll-out process doesn’t end after inviting users, so your communication shouldn’t either. 

5. Support channel(s)

Once the platform is set up and running, and end-users are using it, you should be prepared for requests and suggestions for improvements. Your system can be continuously optimized. This will be the task of the AO. The support button can be used to continuously collect and implement improvement suggestions. Use the system statistics to track the activity of users on the platform. This will help you plan and monitor your roll-out and set specific goals for platform usage.

6. Onboarding approach

System readiness preparation

  • The number of maximum users is known
  • The user login process is clarified
  • SSO
  • User excel upload - User accounts are preloaded in the system
  • User invitation
  • Check with your IT if your email gateway can handle the load and is not blocking the ITONICS email gateway IP address, marking it as SPAM-gateway

Configuration preparation

Check whether everything is configured

  • User configuration
  • Permissions
  • Brand management
  • Login page background
  • Newsletter Settings/Signature/Footer
  • Cookies, Privacy, Terms and Conditions

Communication preparation

  • The rollout date/time is known
  • Legal aspects: Cookies, Terms & Conditions are adjusted, approved by the legal team, and turned on 
  • Notification emails: Test E-Mails are confirmed for branding, compatibility,  configuration, etc.
  • Internal IT contact in case of technical issues
  • The technical support team is informed about the rollout 
  • Communication before the launch
    • Announcement of the platform or invitation to a campaign 
    • End-user information distributed: Training sessions, user onboarding guide,  contact person for questions, etc.
  • Communication after the launch (feedback after 2-3 weeks, LinkedIn-post, newsletter,  etc.)
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