Softcom is on a mission to connect the people and business of Africa with meaningful innovation, at scale. Their focus is on building a digital infrastructure that accelerates inclusion and growth for people and businesses in these key areas; identity, learning, payments, and data (#growthtech). It’s an ambitious challenge that requires a lot of collaboration, bringing together some of the brightest minds on the continent, all of whom report to work remotely. “We like to think of ourselves as a Business to Human (B2H) company,” says Remi Adegboye, a People Manager at Softcom. “What that means is everything we do with product innovation, especially in our own region in Africa, is to make life easier for the human race.”
Choosing a software vendor to help them manage their goal-setting and performance management was no small decision. The tools that Softcom chooses to adopt must be both effective and exemplary of their mission to make technology more approachable in their market. “I cannot be a traditional HR person,” says Remi. “I really need to ensure that the programs, the policies, and the tools that we’re using really make the business stand out as much as we would like it to.”
In the Spring of 2019, a key hire led Softcom to start looking at human resources software tools. After months of research and beginning with do-it-yourself systems, their new VP of People & Culture Omonuwa Olulano chose, with management’s buy-in, to adopt the OKR methodology and selected 7Geese as their OKR and performance management software platform.
Formalizing their performance management processes
When Omonuwa joined the company, she saw a need for some structure in the company’s people management tools and practices. “Prior to that time, the business just had the strategy/goals for the year, everybody had their roles but there was really no specific methodology or structure in place to measure the outcome of the different strategies or goals,” says Omonuwa.
Their first step was to adopt a system of recording their KPIs (key performance indicators) in Google Sheets. Duplicating, renaming, and managing permissions on the spreadsheets soon became more time-consuming than she was comfortable with. “We did that in Q2 and Q3 (2019) and by Q4 we noticed we weren’t getting the immediate response because it was a bit manual,” says Omonuwa. “It really wasn’t seamless. Then we did some research and stumbled on OKRs. It was really exciting for us because we could immediately see the benefits, in terms of having everyone focused, all hands on deck, and all focused on achieving specific goals for the year. It was easy to quickly cascade the goals down in that format, using objectives and key results.”
Making the switch from spreadsheets to measurable OKRs
“It brought clarity for the leaders and our team members,” says Omonuwa. “We are a tech company. We knew we couldn’t continue to use Google Sheets. Even though that’s a bit of automation, it’s not the full picture and that was why we reached out. We had to go online.”
“We went through a lot of platforms, looking for the right application that could provide us with support. Beyond measuring performance, we wanted to also encourage recognition. We also wanted something that could help us do 360 feedback, performance management, and all of that. And that’s how we stumbled on 7Geese.”
Rolling out new OKRs software to a remote team in Africa
The truly remarkable thing about Softcom’s adoption of 7Geese was the efficiency with which they adopted it as a company. Within two weeks of going online, over 80% of their remote team had checked-in to an objective on the platform. Their comprehensive roll-out plan, along with the support of our Customer Success team, made it possible to engage a distributed team, uniting them around a set of common goals. Some of the adoption ideas brought forth by the team at Softcom were innovative and specific to their status as a remote work company, such they became the impetus for this case study.
They developed a project plan of their own. The first step was to ensure they were comfortable with the software, then they enacted a phased roll-out, ending with an adoption stage. “I would say that 7Geese is very easy to use once you get a hang of it,” says Omonuwa. “It was a smooth, easy ride. Your colleagues from 7Geese were also very helpful in terms of how we were seamlessly integrated onto the platform.” While we are grateful for the shoutout, we think Softcom’s People & Culture team are the heroes of this story.
Softcom’s 7Geese roll-out, step-by-step
“We knew this was going to be a huge change for everyone and so we had to put in some form of change management,” says Omonuwa. They came up with a plan that would help their entire team make the adjustment from tracking progress in Google Sheets to using a performance management platform. Here’s a breakdown of their plan, step-by-step.
The initial software demo
Like most software purchases, Softcom’s journey started with research and eventually a number of software demos to view different solutions. 7Geese’s product stood out, and they selected our tool as their OKRs and performance management solution. “Jason Stewart did a really fantastic job of giving us a true understanding through the demo,” says Omonuwa.
“The next step was we needed to get management buy-in, so we also had a mini demo for our management,” says Omonuwa. “We showed them how easy it was to set up a profile, how easy it was to put in your objectives and also identify your key results, how seamless it will be for 1-on-1s, tracking your progress reports every day, every week, every month. We also showed the Recognition and 360-degree feedback tools, all of it. How it basically met all our performance management requirements”.
Internal marketing for team buy-in
“Once we were done and we got their buy-in, the next step was to drop subtle hints to the business,” says Omonuwa. “We would have emails go out to say, ‘Hey, did you know 7Geese is coming? What do you know about 7Geese?’ You know, just dropping hints across the business. We used newsletters, we used Slack, and we had these little graphics that we designed, to speak about 7Geese.”
Leadership training and onboarding
“The next step we had outlined was a workshop and a program where we sat with the different departments, with their leaders and their direct reports in the meeting and we took them through 7Geese,” says Omonuwa. We did that across the business. We had them in these small intimate groups because it was easy for us to quickly direct feedback.”
Demo day for the whole organization
“Then we had a workshop for the entire organization,” says Omonuwa. “And it was easier because our leadership already knew what the platform was and had already asked their questions or raised their concerns. When we had had that final demo before the organization, it was pretty easy and straightforward.”
Once they had covered all of these steps, moving into the adoption phase with their team was easy too. Within two weeks of the official roll-out, 91% of their team had created a profile and checked-in to an objective.
The challenges of software adoption with a remote workforce in Africa
“All of this was done virtually,” says Omonuwa, who adds that the Softcom team was able to transition quickly when the COVID-19 pandemic began. “Transitioning did not affect productivity because we had remote working as part of our work culture, so it was very easy for us to go fully remote. I would say that the only downside is that here in Nigeria, internet connectivity is not as robust or advanced as you have it in other countries. So we have those glitches and connectivity issues when we’re having meetings. But besides that, it is easy-peasy because remote working is part of our practice anyway.”
Advice for other 7Geese users
While their transition to using our software was an easy one, adopting the OKRs methodology and setting their objectives was a learning curve for the team. Remi has some advice for other companies who are making the switch to OKRs for the first time.
“It would be easier for teams to break down their objectives and key results on a document and clearly align this to their company goals before setting out to upload it into the system,” says Remi. “I think it would be easier for teams to have that documented somewhere, maybe on Sheets or Docs. And then they can upload from the documents as soon as they have a clear understanding of how the alignment should work.”
Next steps for Softcom
Now that they have achieved near-perfect adoption of their OKRs, the next performance management step for Softcom will be to set up career path goals for each individual in the company. As they onboard new team members they will be able to show them various pathways to growth and success within the organization.
Softcom is a fast-growing company that has already made a difference for a large number of companies in Africa. “We’ve made a lot of traction,” says Remi. “We have a learning management system that we developed in-house. We have a financial payment system that we’ve also developed in-house. We have come up with a system that helps to capture and analyze data to share real-time information with our clients.” When the COVID pandemic hit, Softcom was also able to make a big difference for a lot of individuals in their communities, when they needed it the most. “We started an initiative where people could donate using our financial payments platform and we’ve been able to give back to over two million people in Nigeria.”
“We have very intelligent people that work in the company,” says Remi. “We’re really very hopeful and really excited about the future for the business, because we feel like there’s a lot of opportunity for growth, and there are a lot of opportunities for us to give back.”
Learn more about how to use 7Geese for OKRs and performance management
Want to learn more about how the 7Geese platform can help your company with OKRs, performance management, recognition, career development, and 1-on-1s? Book a demo and we would be happy to show you.