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It’s a big job to convince a landscape company (either as a consultant or as as the internal IT guru) to switch to a new software tool. Yet, it can be done.
The secret to success is to focus on the benefits of the new program and that everyone can easily learn it. There’s plenty of support; no one will be hurt by the process. And trust that in the end, that it will be worth it when everyone is happier in their jobs. There will be some grumbling, but that’s okay. Change is hard for everyone.
As a landscaping business software company, we have had a lot of experience (28 years in total) working with many landscape companies in the United States and Canada. We know how busy green industry professionals are so we make the implementation process as painless as possible.
Our trainers involved in the implementation process have worked in the landscape industry as well. They know firsthand the pressures each department faces--from operations, sales, to accounting, to the hard-working crews.
In addition to training the entire company to learn the new software product, our company has developed best practices that we’ve gleaned from our nearly three decades in business working with other landscape companies like yours.
Here is a systematic approach to effectively implement new landscape business software into your company’s operations:
1. Assemble Your Team
Before this system change can be announced to the entire company, you first need to assemble a team of people in leadership. You need to brief these folks on the benefits of this software and how the implementation process will work.
When you assemble your leadership team to talk about the new landscaping business software, try to get them to see the benefits that this new system could bring to their work lives.
Remind your leadership team of the following benefits they’ll receive once the product is implemented:
- Sales – Your team will be able to sell more consistently with accurate estimating information. When the staff can sell better, they can sell more lucrative projects as well as make more money.
- Operations – Your team will have more organized workflow. No more whiteboards and missing information to schedule work crews. Instead, all jobs, assigned crews and mapping will be in one database. The operations manager will have more control over his team and his workday.
- Owner – He/she will be spending less time with paperwork and more time overseeing his/her company’s success. He/she will also get more accurate financial and productivity reports on time—instead of waiting until the accounting administrator tracks everyone down for their information.
- Accounting administrator – He/she will now have all of his/her financial statements, job costing, cash flow and other important reports in one place. He/she will be able to invoice customers on time as well as be able to produce financial reports for the CEO in a timely manner.
Once you get your team excited about the software, and how it’ll make their work duties more streamlined and accessible, they’ll be able to get their co-workers excited about the product.
2. Brainstorm with Department Heads
When you get your leadership team together to discuss the landscaping business software’s implementation process, brainstorm how the software will practically fix their problems. This brainstorming process will help the team become more emotionally invested because it will define the goals of what they want the software to do for them personally. And they’ll pass on that enthusiasm to their staff.
For example, here are the typical office administration’s problems:
- Duplication of Effort: Landscaping business software will end the constant copying and pasting from one program to the next.
- Missed billings: The new program makes this problem go away.
- Difficulty tracking orders: The new program makes tracking orders and order history a click away.
- Inaccurate or missed changes to work orders: The accounting department can now easily make changes to job orders without having to switch databases.
- Payroll struggles: The software enables accounting to complete payroll on time and overtime is accurately paid.
- Job costing based on payroll: There will hardly be any more errors associated with payroll because it will line up with each job performed and the hours worked.
- Slow-paying clients: Because they can pay their invoices online, there will be less time waiting on payments in the mail.
- Paying vendors and subcontractors late: There will no aging receipts out there waiting to be paid—or worse yet, overdue for payment.
- Delay of sold work getting in the system: Everything that the sales team sells instantly gets entered into the landscaping business software for one of your team to review and turn into a work order.
Other departments will come up with other specific benefits, and this brainstorming exercise will be valuable throughout the rest of the process.
3. Hold a Kickoff Meeting with Key Team Members
Now it’s time to bring in the people who will be directly involved with the implementation process.
For your implementation process to succeed, it’s imperative that you keep a calm, supporting presence. Additionally, your company’s leadership needs to exude confidence to get everyone on board to move forward with the process. The implementation cannot be viewed as an option, but the firm strategic direction your company is taking going forward.
Remember to continue to focus on the goals from your brainstorming meetings. Many times these kickoff meetings can get bogged down with details—getting everyone distracted on the potential pitfalls.
Remind teams that there will be plenty of support both from the leadership as well as from the software company. Encourage your employees to take off the high expectation of perfection from their plates.
It’s okay to ask questions, mistakes can be fixed, and the implementation process only takes a short time. It won’t last for eternity.
Plus, everyone will benefit from this new software once they’re trained and are confident in using the product. The staff will find that they’re better at their jobs after they learn how to use this software.
The owner and the leadership team should use this meeting to emphasize what they hope to get out of this software:
- Data will be effortlessly shared between departments
- There will be better communication between departments
- Accurate data will help the company operate more efficiently, making everyone’s job less complicated.
Next, at the kickoff meeting, you should explain to employees that this process will also be about transferring information from all the old systems into the new one. In essence, they are taking only the relevant information from their old system into the new software.
At some point, it will be all hands on deck. Everyone needs to be at work to attend the trainings and to gather the appropriate data when it’s their turn to participate.
You need to emphasize to each team member that they need to keep it simple. Only input information that’s vital to their jobs and to the success of the company.
4. Establish Timelines and Goals
Before the kickoff meeting, you need to work with the software company to create timelines and strategic goals. Deadlines need to be set so that information is gathered in a timely manner.
You also have to factor in the time of year too. Operations will be busy in the spring and summer organizing work crews for lawn care and landscape design projects.
Sales are busy throughout the spring, summer and fall trying to land new clients, and the accounting staff won’t even talk to you from the end of the year until tax season.
Since one of the company’s departments will always be busy, the leadership team needs to be sensitive to everyone’s schedule and plan accordingly. You need to know which part of the year is the best time for the entire company to be available for training and implementing the new software.
Also, you should expect some resistance. People are comfortable in the “old way of doing things” even if it’s not efficient. They will commonly not want to slow down for implementation in order to speed up later, citing that the busy work could take them away from other tasks. Yet, you and the leadership team need to remind them of the many benefits they’ll receive from this landscaping and tree service software.
For existing works in progress—such as proposals, reports, and contracts—there will need to be a system developed for transferring that information into the new software as well.
5. Training Sessions
While the kickoff meeting will be for everyone in the company involved in the data transfer and setup, the training sessions will be broken into departments. Each department—operations, administration and sales—will have their own training sessions with a trainer from the Include Software. Everyone of our trainers have experience working for a green service company, so the terminology you’ll be speaking will be something very familiar to us.
There will be homework for each person too. This homework will consist of additional information gathering that’s needed for each department to operate.
The homework will be simple. It’s based on meeting the implementation strategic goals and timelines. Each person will have the information already—they just need to disseminate it into the right categories and cull the information that doesn’t apply or that’s redundant.
A Year Later
Last year, you felt the tremendous burden of converting the landscaping company’s employees to adopt this new software. You noticed, however, that once they started building the software, they actually took ownership of the project.
It’s a year later and the CEO told you how everyone has gelled at the company. For example, sales enjoy being able to communicate with customers using the CRM software.
Accounting loves that it easily produces nearly 13 meaningful reports. Plus, they can keep each department on budget.
The crews get to each job site having all the items they need to successfully complete their project.
Operations now has an organized workflow. The operations manager knows how to schedule his work crews because he has project specifics from sales. They no longer has to track down the sales staff to ask questions.
It was challenging at first getting everyone on the same “team” when it came to implementing the lawn care business software. However, it’s now finished and everyone is glad they stuck with it.
If you want to understand how Asset can make your landscape company run efficiently and smoothly, contact Include Software for a free demo or call our office at 800-475-0311.