Dealing with change: How to implement a new system

Photo by Possessed Photography on Unsplash

I’ve always been interested in solving problems and finding out how things work, and so naturally this interest has evolved to how people and technology interact. Over the years, I’ve learnt a few things about implementing a new solution, both here at Threesides and for our clients. The lessons learnt are not new. Harvard Business Review wrote about it back in 1985, and I listened to a podcast about it this week. What is “it”?

Change management. Specifically, how change management is integral to new system implementation.

The key takeaway? The hype of promised improvements is not enough to change your team.

It is easy to overlook change management as part system implementation, but when this is missing, it impacts how long, and how well, a solution is used. Helping your team to adapt to change improves efficiency and team collaboration.

So you’re familiar with the language I’ll use in this article, here is a short glossary:

  • Solution: The thing that’s changing – it can be a new piece of software or website designed to address a problem or concern; or working with an agency. This can be used interchangeably with the word “system”
  • Environment: Where the solution will be used, your people, context, and industry
  • User: A person who will be using this solution, generally day-to-day as part of their work.

I have included some examples based on a recent implementation of Zendesk, a customer service platform, for a client.

The steps to implementing a new solution look different based on the size and scope of the project. There are projects where you will document, discuss, and approve each step. In other projects you can consider, accept, and then progress through these steps quickly.

1. Structure the playing field

It can be exciting to discover a system that promises to solve problems, simplify processes, and make life easier. It’s even more tempting to sign up for a free trial and start playing around, make a snap decision, and then just implement it.

But first, you need to understand the flow-on effects of introducing a new solution. If you don’t know where the change will happen in your organisation, you can’t measure how successful or effective the solution is. This is a critical risk management step and helps to ensure that your team can adapt to the change.

Understand the environment

Keep in mind what’s happening in the space that you will be changing. Ask yourself and key stakeholders who will be impacted by the change:

  • Are there legislation or regulations that you need to consider?
  • What components can change? Is it just one platform or business area, or will it cover the whole organisation?
  • What needs to stay the same? Are there established processes and systems that need to stay the same?
  • What do current processes look like? Are there any workarounds that are common practice? Is there a “right way” of doing things that are currently documented?

Our client would be interacting with sensitive personal information so we needed to consider what information Zendesk would store. The team was relying on emails and phone calls to arrange meetings and progress people through their services. Personal details and notes would need to be recorded in a separate but pre-existing platform.

Understand the people

Often the team setting up the solution is the one that also needs to manage implementation. There are different roles to play, and without clearly explaining who does what, things can fall apart. Think about:

  • Who will be sharing the requirements of the solution?
  • Who will be setting up the solution?
  • Who will be responsible for supervising the solution in the long term?
  • Who will be using the solution?
    • How broad is the range of experience in the team?
    • Is there any current experience with the new solution?
  • What do people enjoy about current processes? What annoys them?

The director and office manager shared the workflow requirements that needed to be handled. Threesides was responsible for setting up Zendesk before handing this over to the client. The office manager was nominated to be the ‘advocate’ for using Zendesk. The team had no experience with Zendesk and was comfortable working with Outlook.

Understand the timing

There are drawbacks and benefits to changing systems and processes. Timing and speed play a significant role in how risky change is. This needs to be understood as part of your risk assessment for this project.

The time begins when you identify the solution. The project speed is determined by how quickly it takes for the solution to become part of day-to-day operations. Consider how much change you want to subject your team to, and for how long. This will determine which approach you can take to adopting your new system.

Adopt Early  – Shared learning and problem-solving
– Shared sense of ownership and responsibility
– Transparency of decisions and processes
– Address high-level pain points
– Can miss critical use cases and not solve the problem
– Higher training overhead
– Business processes can’t be established properly
– Miss key project goals if not identified early
Adopt Late– Solution is tested broadly
– System mapping identifies opportunities for integrations
– Problems are perpetuated longer
– Opportunity for scope creep leads to additional delays
Adopt Quickly– Team training happens quickly
– Shorted time of severe change
– Establish operating procedures that may not be best practice
– Miss capturing relevant/critical information
Adopt Slowly– Reduced severe change
– Identify and mitigate risks as they arise
– Encompass additional requirements as identified
– Extended project planning process
– Prolonged change
– “Perfection” paralysis: the attempt to resolve all errors/concerns

Consider how open your team is to change. If your team can adapt and respond to new requirements and learn how things work, early or quick adoption can mean your systems are implemented in a shorter amount of time. Teams that need more time benefit from slow adoption, allowing for more training and a chance to become familiar with the new system.

2. Define the parts

System implementation is only effective if you know what needs to be done. This involves defining the project team, key stakeholders, project schedule, and requirements. Save yourself from ambiguity and scope creep by defining what will and won’t be included in this solution.

Writing a project plan may seem over the top but comes in handy when you need to share this with the team, and defines the critical pieces of your implementation:

  • Who is part of the implementation team?
  • Who are the stakeholders involved?
  • What is the scope of the project?
  • When are the milestone dates?

One approach to defining your solution is to document the different types of workflows that you want to improve. Understand what data is associated with each, then create your project plan around how they can be incorporated into the new solution.

We defined a range of custom fields that are used to track relevant information. Custom statuses were used to easily filter Zendesk tickets for our client to understand who needs to be contacted.

3. Demonstrate how it will solve problems

Demonstrating your solution builds trust and understanding – critical factors in how receptive your team will be to changing their standard routines and learning a new system.

Here are some different types of demos you might encounter during your project:

  • Demos by sales teams will often be high-level and broadly address common pain points. These are generic and can easily miss nuances and specific concerns that you may have.
  • Demos of specific features showcase how effective a solution might be for you.
  • Walk-throughs and demos during implementation are used as check-in points to ensure that everything is on track and aligned with your requirements.
  • Demos can also be used to introduce a new solution to your team before they need it. This helps reduce shock once it needs to be used for day-to-day operations.

Keep in mind who will be involved. Including too many people early in your project can collect a lot of opinions and no actionable insights. On the other hand, not including people in the process can cause concern and disruption.

It can be helpful to pilot test change with key influencers in your teams. Their influence can reassure individuals that their concerns have been heard and help them retain a feeling of control.

We find this step particularly helpful when introducing a new system to a client, but it works just as well internally.

Early in the project, we demonstrated our understanding of the client’s requirements with a customised demo of Zendesk using sample data. This confirmed that we were on the right track and that Zendesk would be a useful tool.

4. Develop and test the solution

Now the project execution starts, the system gets set up, and relevant data are added.

How long this step takes varies depending on how much data you have, what needs to be set up and how much support there is.

If you’re working across teams or with an agency, a project management plan and Gantt chart help to keep track of delivery and ensure that you meet timeframes. Throughout development, you may realise new features or functionality are required. Assess and communicate whether these should be incorporated now or later, as this can have flow on effects to scope, cost and timing.

When developing and setting up your new system it can be easy to skip proper testing. You have validated the solution and know it will address the problems you have identified. What you need to test for is how it will handle being used by your team.

It might sound counterintuitive but try to break it. This is where edge cases arise. Edge cases happen in more uncommon circumstances, generally when unexpected or incomplete data are provided, or a specific process is not followed.

In a perfect world, you would always have all the information available when needed and follow the same process each time. In reality, people try to do things quickly with limited information and then move on to the next thing.

Your solution should be able to deal with unexpected or incomplete information. This is especially important when you’re working with integrated systems. You need to make sure that the information goes where it needs to go, and know where things go wrong if it doesn’t.

Some common edge cases or situations to consider:

  • Project management system: What happens if you don’t have all the required information to start?
  • Managing customer enquiries: What happens if your customers format their phone number, product name or address differently?
  • Website: What happens if you don’t upload an image or provide content in a custom field?

We tested how data populated into Zendesk from integrated website forms to ensure data was not lost due to different formatting e.g., phone numbers formatted as +61 2 6249 1117 or 62491117.

5. Hand over and deliver training

This is a critical step. It’s where you understand not only how everything works, but how to use it. This is also the point where a lot of change happens – and can be make or break for successful ongoing use of the solution.

Handover and training are important steps for internal projects because the person setting up the solution is not always going to be the solution owner or user.

At Threesides, we like to hand over to who will own the solution in your organisation – this person will be the main point of contact to ask questions and communicate back to us.

There will generally be two types of training:

1. Involved Training: Owner

The owner will need to understand the structure and components of the solution to help troubleshoot when problems arise. This training will be more complex, and cover infrequent, but important aspects of your solution.

2. Task Training: Team

The people who will be using the solution can receive task-specific training. As people gain experience and become comfortable using the solution, you can start to introduce the more complex and technical aspects. Don’t feel that you need to inundate your team with all the information at the very beginning.

Tie your training back to the workflows you identified during defining the solution. Regardless of the system, this is what needs to be achieved. This also helps to draw similarities to the processes that are currently being used in your team.

It’s here that your change management process really takes effect – or not. Training people effectively in the solution plays a major role in whether the solution will continue to be used successfully.

6. Check-in, assess and update

Change doesn’t happen immediately or smoothly. Once the solution has been ‘in the wild’ for some time, it’s important to check that it’s still meeting expectations. Checking in with your team helps to reassure and link the success of the project with the team’s success in using it.

Change can feel abrupt and incomplete if you don’t check in once it’s been implemented.

Regardless of how much planning has taken place, there will be parts missing from your solution. Collect feedback from tools and people. The tools will show what parts of a system are being used, and how often. The people will share complaints and experiences.

It is important to dig deeper into what this feedback means. Are negative experiences a response to adjusting previous habits, or is there a broken component in your system? Are unused program features not required, or was there inadequate training?

Incorporate this feedback and update your solution. Depending on the scale of changes, you might need to repeat this whole process again.

Remember: Poor planning leads to poor performance

Planning for change is a critical part of setting up a new piece of software or engaging with new suppliers. A change management plan needs to be developed before you’ve invested in setting up a new system.

Common fears about change arise when there is too much information, too much responsibility, or too much ambiguity about what needs to be done. Your team might perceive change in different ways so the impacts can vary from individual to individual. A change management plan aims to get everyone on the same page from the very start, bringing them along together for long-term success.

Change should be communicated.

It doesn’t have to be difficult, cause team frustration or fuel nightmares. Communicating the right information clearly and when relevant reduces fear and uncertainty.

If you need some advice or support implementing change in your team or want to work with Threesides to change your marketing, design, or digital systems – get in touch.

Plugin Review: Google Site Kit

Google Site Kit, is a tool built by Google that allows for simple and straightforward integration of the key (free) tools that they offer for web admins – Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, Google Page Speed Insights, Google AdSense, Google Search Console, and Google Optimize (just in case that sentence didn’t mention Google enough).

If you’ve worked with WordPress before, you’ll be aware that there’s no native integration of Analytics into your site. You have to either be willing to edit a theme or plugin code or install a plugin to link it. Platforms like Squarespace have some support directly integrated. There’s also varied support with themes allowing for header or footer code injection.

WordPress plugins spouting their support for integrating Google Analytics varies. Sometimes plugins will even rely on third parties to provide reporting integration to your site’s dashboard. I believe that where possible, your data should be kept as close to the source as possible. This is particularly important with the personal nature of browsing data.

I first heard of the Site Kit plugin via the Google Analytics products Showcase page on LinkedIn towards the end of 2020 when it was first announced. I began using it early in the year as we launched new sites with Threesides.

You come to expect good design and user experience from software developed by the likes of Google, and I was pleased to see how they approached this in the plugin. O-Auth and secure login experiences are patchy at the best of times – however, it has been handled well.


Site Kit is available from the WordPress Plugin Library and is installed just like any other plugin.

Set up Site Kit welcome screen prompting the user to sign in with Google to get started.
Plugin Welcome screen following install.

As you’d expect – the first step is to get signed in with Google. Whilst it doesn’t mention it at this stage, the following screens provide a clear explanation of what each feature does, and what steps will happen during the process.

Screen showing Google Site Kit's process of verifying Search Console
Search Console Verification Process

The first tool Google will automatically verify is Search Console, providing organic ranking information for your site. I appreciate the explanation and outline of the steps that happen during this, especially when jumping between authorising the various scopes that it needs access to.

Step-by-step actions are shown

Separating the process into at least three stages per tool can take longer to set up. However, this provides transparency around what is happening and the permissions being granted.

Google Analytics

What stands out to me most is the consideration around tools that may already be set up on the website, or what can be implied from data within the tool. This is seen when connecting Google Analytics. Once you’ve authorised access, you’re prompted to select the relevant Account, Property and View.

Your Google Analytics property will automatically be selected.

If you’ve set up your site URL in Analytics, this will be set as the default. This is particularly helpful if you’ve got access to a large number of Analytics accounts.

One draw-back here is that GA4 is somewhat forcefully included. You need to have the appropriate permissions to create this property otherwise you are unable to continue the setup.

A nice touch is that if Analytics is already installed you will be notified and prompted to remove your other tracking code or just use the reporting aspects.

Tag Manager

Similar to the prompt for double Analytics tracking, there are some nice prompts that appear when connecting Tag Manager.

The first will show if you attempt to add a container with different tracking to the property you’ve selected when linking Analytics. This is helpful if you’re connecting the same profile. If you need to connect a Tag Manager with a different profile, you will need to install it manually outside of Site Kit.

The second shows when you select a container with the same Analytics profile you’ve previously selected. This will just show your reporting integration and use your Analytics configuration in Tag Manager,

Tools I use

Programs and Tooling

These are the programs that I’m using day-to-day

VS Code

Developer friendly, popular – and the integrated terminal and Git management help to streamline processes.

Windows 10 + WSL

Within the corporate Windows environment, most things are possible – however, I’ll jump into Ubuntu or a Docker container when needed.

Git, NPM

Keeping track of code and developing across devices is made easy with Git. NPM’s where I’m getting my JS packages from.

Languages and Frameworks

The Gutenberg editor uses blocks to create all types of content, replacing a half-dozen ways of customizing WordPress.


WordPress has come along way from it’s blogging platform days – and it’s a great base for all users to manage their content.

By developing Gutenberg blocks and using custom themes we’re not missing out on the latest performance opportunities.


Vue provides a straight-forward front-end layer to make the magic happen.

Templating components that work with WP backend is a breeze.


When a more custom solution is required, Laravel provides the structure and foundations for building custom apps.


Taking the hassle out of CSS, Tailwind provides the perfect utility to implement custom styling without introducing whole frameworks.

The Threesides Approach to Domain, Web and Email Hosting

This article provides some information about how we approach web, email and domain hosting at Threesides. It also helps to explain some of the terms that get thrown around a lot and answer frequently asked questions.

Fundamentally, your system configuration should reflect (and be responsive to) the needs of your business. The contents of this article is a reflection of our experience working across a range of clients, hosting providers and technical ability.

At the end of the day – we all want your website to be quick, manageable and attracting customers.


Hosting (be it web, domain, or email) refers to services that make your website or email accessible on the internet.

Hosting providers range in the services they offer, some host multiple types, and others specialise in one type. You may even have all your hosting managed by a marketing agency or your IT service provider.


Website Hosting, VPS hosting, or Managed Hosting providers give your website a place to live.

Different hosting packages allocate resources to your website. Typically, higher subscription costs provide greater performance and a variety of add-on services.

Some hosting (often Managed Hosting) includes software updates and security patches; others do not, and you must manage this yourself. Running out-of-date or vulnerable software can lead to lower performance, crashes, or security risks. Information on website maintenance is available here.

VPS or a dedicated server can be expensive and is often over-specced for standard websites and comes with limited customer support.

Many large hosting providers, such as GoDaddy, HostPappa, etc. provide cPanel (control panel) hosting. This combines email, web and DNS hosting together, and can make it difficult to migrate or move your hosting service if required.


Email Hosting provides your domain with email addresses and processes the sending and receiving of emails. Common dedicated email providers are Office365 and Google Apps.

Your website hosting might also come with ‘free email accounts.’ This often refers to emails that are tied in with your website hosting and are not separately managed. In this case, moving website hosts may interrupt your email service.


Domain registrars register and manage URLs and this often includes DNS hosting. DNS hosting refers to translating the URLs (like to their location on the internet (in the form of an IP address like

Sometimes your DNS hosting is not attached to your domain registrar. Often this is because an agency or your IT provider is managing it on your behalf. You might also be using a service like Cloudflare for security and performance.

Some hosts like CrazyDomains or require a ‘Premium DNS hosting’ to manage DNS records – this is charged at a monthly or annual fee.

If your DNS is hosted within a different hosting provider, in cPanel, or with an agency, migrating to a different hosting provider can be more complex. In this instance your DNS records will need to be migrated to a separate service if you wish to change web hosts.


We build websites that are designed to perform well using the latest software – delivering high-performance websites and a great user experience. We believe that you should own, have access to, and be able to update, any aspect of your hosting.

This means that Threesides does not provide hosting, instead, we use and recommend dedicated providers to use. Dedicated providers separate ongoing concerns and can make it easier to update or change providers if required.

We will work with you to set up the required accounts with these service providers and can provide the technical requirements to your existing providers if required. Migrating DNS or changing hosts can take time, and we will provide a quote for this work.


Threesides builds and designs websites, and we choose to host these websites with WP Engine. WP Engine is a managed WordPress host – this means hosting has been designed to work the best with WordPress websites. As a managed host, they also manage server management and updates, overall WordPress security and updates, and technical support.

Included in the WP Engine web hosting plan is free SSL certificates, access to their support team and CDN. WP Engine provides Australian hosting servers through Google Cloud’s data centres in Sydney.

If you’re signing up – here’s our referral link to WP Engine.


We recommend using an email address represented by your domain, rather than via a free provider such as,, etc. This reinforces your brand and means your emails are less likely to end up in the Junk folder.

Threesides recommends either Microsoft365 (aka Office365) or Google Workplace (formerly known as G-Suite and Google Apps) depending on your business needs. If you’ve used Gmail before, Google Apps provides a very similar interface using your own domain. If you’re licensing Microsoft apps for your staff, you likely already have access to Microsoft365. 


There are many domain registrars that we use, in particular, we look for registrars that provide a free DNS hosting option with domain registration. This allows you to make as many changes to the records as required – such as pointing to web hosting, verifying email systems or other web tools. In some instances, we recommend setting up a free Cloudflare account to provide simple DNS management.


TypicalThreesides Recommended
ConfigurationDomain registration with Australian provider such as NetRegistry.
cPanel hosting through large host such as GoDaddy, or re-sold through web agency
DNS hosting moved into cPanel
cPanel IMAP emails setup to forward to a general [email protected] account
Domain registration with an Australian provider such as NetRegistry
DNS hosting with the domain registrar, or through dedicated DNS such as Cloudflare
Web Hosting with WP Engine
Email Hosting with Microsoft365 as part of managed IT services
AdvantagesLower startup complexity as they are all managed through one or two providers.Service providers specialise in their particular field – providing better performance and features.
You’re not locked into using one provider for all services.
Systems can be added, removed or changed as required to meet new business needs.
DisadvantagesLimited options to change one aspect of the services – eg. web hosting, if relying on cPanel for DNS and email.Need to manage multiple service accounts.
Setup can be more complex.

A comparison of hosting approaches

A flowchart outlining the difference between using separate service providers compared to cPanel hosting.
cPanel hosting can make it difficult to modify aspects of your hosting

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