Change is hard. I’ll be the first to admit it.

For weeks, months, even years, you grow accustomed to a certain way of doing things, whether at home or work, and then it happens… change.

I see a lot of agencies and in-house marketing departments struggle with their existing workflow systems. They realize something needs to change, in order to become more efficient (and profitable), but they’re apprehensive about doing so.

The first step to becoming more efficient, and lessening the “trauma” of change, is to look at your existing processes – what’s working and what’s not? You may find you don’t have to re-vamp the entire workflow process, just a few of its components.

Next, make a list of your agency’s specific workflow needs that aren’t being met. Does your existing project management system contain features that address these needs? What will it take to begin using those features?  If you find that your existing system isn’t, in fact, able to meet your needs, it may be time to look elsewhere.

With a list of specific workflow needs in hand, you’re already a step ahead of agencies that simply decide, “something has to change” and purchase the first project management system they come across.

Next, do your research. What systems are currently available? What features do they offer? I recommend compiling an Excel sheet; here’s an example. Once you’ve filled in the sheet, place it alongside your existing needs list and determine which system is the best match.

Now, here comes the hard part – actually changing systems.

Don’t expect to flip a switch and for everything to be perfect. It’s going to take time to implement a new system and processes. The most important thing you can do is to get buy-in from all employees on your team, especially top-level management. It’s also critical that you build knowledge of and comfort with the new system; employee-by-employee, if necessary. Empower your employees by showing them how the new system works and how it will, in turn, make their jobs easier.

As the Traffic Manager, you’re in a position to positively affect the “change that is upon you.” Create an open forum for employee questions, comments and concerns. Like so many other agency issues, the resistance to adopt a new project management system (or process) is often due to poor communication.

Another factor that often comes into play where system adoption is concerned is past experience. If employees were part of previous failed attempts to re-vamp workflow processes, they may be less inclined to participate this time. Solicit their input and use it to help ensure the same pitfalls are avoided this time.

During it all, just remember, “Change is Good.”

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