Posted 6 October 2015
Project management tips for a smooth website rollout
For any number of reasons, it’s easier for projects managers to blame resistance to change for a project failing. In fact though, it’s often mostly the fault of the project managers or as we like to call them ‘change managers’. A large part of a website redevelopment planning process appears to be gathering and creating source material for the new solution. Where projects lack continuing momentum in organisations surrounds the planning of the rollout strategy.
The project manager for the website redevelopment will be across the rollout, delegate tasks and correspond with the web development team. But where does this leave other employees? Employees may be excitedly waiting to use the new website or anxiously anticipating changes to their responsibilities, for example, changes as a result of an entirely new CMS or CRM.
Managers, employees and customers will all be affected by a change of website, but the first people to be affected are usually the employees. Failure to prepare for this change will inevitably create significant resistance. There are often employees who will be curious and seek to learn and discover the new platform, but they are rare so don’t assume that everyone will take the same approach.
Why do employees resist change?
They don’t think they have the skills to use the new format. Is the new site integrated with the existing CMS and other third party software, or is it entirely new?
They are happy with the status quo and don’t see a need for change. Why do they need a new site when the current one is fine?
They cannot see a clear path for the transition. Who is managing this? Who will give us training? Will we hire a digital manager moving forward or will our current staff be overloaded with new responsibilities?
They don’t understand why the change is in their interest. The company needs a new website, but how does this affect an employee in a head office, responding to general enquiries? Individualise your messages according to your audience.
After 10 + years developing websites across Australia, the Wolf team got together and listed our top tips for project management during the website redevelopment process. Here they are:
Present your case
Make sure all members of staff in your organisation are across why you have decided to redevelop your website. If new employees come on board in the project, get them across everything. Share strategy and project documentation freely.
Involve every layer
Project leaders must be aligned with an organisation’s vision. Therefore, it is their responsibility to communicate any changes to vision and what approach will be taken to achieve said effect. Involve everyone, be inclusive, explain why, show how, state when.
Both in the design and development phase, and once the site has launched. According to Joe Basgill, CEO of Geneca and contributor at entrepreneur.com “People who take ownership have the habit of exposing problems because those issues get in the way of their success. They want to overcome problems.”
Involve staff in the development phase. The input may not be needed from anyone other than the project team or company directors. However, progress updates are a must.
The training associated with new systems and technologies is crucial for acceptance and adoption. Quite simply, if an employee struggles for too long with they will eventually give up. If you have never provided training for a new system before, do not underestimate its difficulty. Remember that everyone learns differently and if you have five people sitting in a training session, they’re five individual people sitting in a training session. Most importantly, don’t make people feel dumb if they aren’t on the same page.
Plan for the unexpected
Does everyone know what to do when things go wrong? Make sure employees know what they can resolve internally and what requires external support. Clearly identify processes for help. Of course, things happen that you may have no idea about how to fix, but who should you call/email/phone to get help and when are they available?
The relationship between managers and their staff makes the greatest difference in how employees respond to change. The clear message that things will not be the same as before must be delivered. A journey mapped to show where you are, where you are going and how you will get there.
A new website can be the catalyst for significant development and growth in an organisation on many levels. If you are thinking about embarking on a redevelopment or have already begun, do everything you can to work towards a smooth rollout. The benefits are immeasurable, and your staff will adapt a positive attitude for future projects alike.
Remember – employees need a reason to embrace their new website, and it’s a project manager’s job to give them that reason. When everyone is on board, a new website can be the catalyst for significant development and growth in an organisation.