Engineer to order software

Engineer-to-Order Software: Overcoming the 5 Big Barriers to Adoption

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Adoption is one of the biggest challenges facing engineer-to-order (ETO) companies when implementing new software.

From employee resistance and technical issues to organizational factors and fluctuating budgets, it’s no wonder many are stuck doing things the old-fashioned way, as they’ve always done.

While change is hard, stagnation is fatal as inefficiencies stifle profits and customer satisfaction. So what can a company do to ensure organization-wide adoption of new software, maximizing ROI?

Keep reading to learn more about what limits the adoption of engineer-to-order software and what you can do to roll it out in your company successfully.

The 5 Biggest Barriers to Implementing New Software in the Engineer-to-Order Space

Before we cut to the solutions, it’s essential to recognize the core factors that hinder new product implementation. Here are five common barriers:

1. There’s Employee Resistance

According to McKinsey, 70 percent of complex, large-scale change programs fail to reach their goals because of employee resistance and lack of support from management.

While not impossible, initial pushback is a big reason why companies that spend a ton of money on engineer-to-order software find nobody ends up using the new solution.

2. There are Technology-Related Problems

Technical problems, poor usability, low situation awareness (leading to human error,) and increased qualification requirements hinder the adoption of modern technologies such as engineer-to-order product solutions.

According to a 2021 AI & Society study, software problems – errors, crashes, freezes, and delayed system reactions – are most common.

These issues have consequences – interrupted workflows, slowing down work processes, increased time pressure, and stress. If employee’s productivity starts slipping, they’ll soon abandon new ways of working.

3. Organizational Factors Hinder Implementation

According to the same 2021 AI & Society study, a lack of adequate training and an inability to participate during the change process creates even more barriers to adopting ETO software within teams.

4. Budget Changes

It’s no secret that large-scale digital transformation projects cost money, time, and effort, all of which go up in smoke when companies face budget cuts and tighter economic conditions.

5. Larger Teams Make Implementation Harder

If your company has a small team, it’s easier to involve all team members in the end-to-end implementation process. The bigger your team, the larger the scale of training required, and the more challenging everything becomes. Stress piles up when upper management expects an impressive ROI on software that no one is adequately trained to use.

How to Successfully Roll Out New Engineer-to-Order Product Solutions

Circumventing the barriers to engineer-to-order software adoption is totally doable, but it does take strategy and dedication. Here are top tips from years of experience:

Address Company Culture First

Almost three-quarters of complicated, large-scale change programs fail to reach their goals. In large part, this is due to employee resistance.

We get it. Learning how to use new engineer-to-order software isn’t at the top of every employee’s to-do list, especially when they’re overworked and the current status quo has worked OK until now.

Buy-in from every stakeholder involved is crucial, so cultivating a positive mindset throughout the organization is essential.

Here are some strategies you can use to manage employees resistant to change:

  • Encourage emotional awareness. Give employees a chance to voice their opinions and enjoy those positive emotions that come with learning something new or overcoming complex tasks.
  • Tie job performance to collaboration. Make “being a team player” part of annual job performance reviews, and give feedback on how employees can improve.
  • Respond appropriately to mistakes. Making mistakes is part of the learning process. Remain calm when they happen, and encourage your team to do the same.
  • Inspire with vision. Paint a vivid picture of how the workplace will look post-ETO software implementation. Emphasize how it will benefit employees in the long run without hiding any potential downsides.

Secure Buy-In as Early as Possible

Engineer-to-order software adoption is a top-down process. It starts with upper management and trickles its way down to those who use the software regularly.

To get buy-in from upper management, you need to have a strong business case that demonstrates why robust engineer-to-order software is the best solution for the company.

To get employees on board early, you need to convey clearly how the new software provides solutions to their pain points and adds value. Be transparent. Break down timelines, and explain how job roles will be affected – either positively or negatively. (The project brief will help a lot here. More on this below!)

The sooner you get buy-in from all stakeholders involved, the quicker and easier you’ll be able to adopt the ETO software.

Develop a Strong Cross-Functional Implementation Team

To effectively implement engineer-to-order software, you need a strong cross-functional implementation team. It should consist of technical and operational team members, such as:

  • Experienced sales reps. They understand customer needs and wants.
  • Customer support specialists. They deal with customer complaints daily and know what grinds their gears.
  • Technical engineers. They handle support tickets from operations and train members internally.
  • Manufacturing leads. They have in-depth knowledge of your company’s products, tools, and timelines.
  • Implementers. They’re in charge of the widespread adoption of the new product throughout the company.

Now, set the team up for success, which is where the PIKES model from the IMD Business School comes in.

Follow the PIKES Model

PIKES stands for Purpose, Integration, Knowledge, Ecosystem, and Self.

It’s a methodology that heightens the performance of employees when working on strategic initiatives, such as adopting engineer-to-order software.

Here’s a very brief outline of how it works (but it’s worth reading up on the model if it looks like it could be helpful.)


Each team member needs to have a deep personal interest (a purpose) in making engineer-to-order software a success. The motivation needs to be intrinsic. If it’s driven by external rewards, people will start dropping like flies when the going gets tough.


The second dimension addresses the team’s cohesion and maturity. All members should understand the tangible and intangible elements that contribute to their accomplishments, including shared values, behaviors, and rules.


Knowledge is composed of the hard and soft skills required to make the adoption process effective. Each team member brings something new to the table, and all this knowledge combines to achieve a common goal.


The fourth dimension – ecosystem – refers to the team’s ability to understand their place in the company as a whole. Secure in their project; they can navigate adeptly during tense times and mobilize resources across the organization, ultimately obtaining support from key stakeholders.


Self deals with each team member’s ability to deal with challenging emotions productively. Doing so helps teams identify weaknesses and work toward overcoming them.

Identify Your Business Goals and Create a Project Brief

And finally, if you haven’t already, it’s time to contemplate your goals for the new ETO software.

Are you trying to close more and larger deals, shorten the sales cycles for your sales reps, or increase customer satisfaction? Is there something else?

Use these goals to craft your project brief, which you can break down into the following sections:

  • Reasons to implement the engineer-to-order software (why now?)
  • SMART objectives
  • Desired benefits
  • Scope of the project
  • Known risks and constraints
  • Dependencies on other projects
  • All stakeholders (internal and external)
  • Estimated timeline
  • Resources required
  • Expected deliverables

Congratulations. You’re All Set to Implement Engineer-to-Order Software. Now What?

So you’ve built have a solid cross-functional team who are willing and able to implement new digital technology. You have buy-in from key stakeholders, plans are approved, and the budget is in place. Now it’s time to find the right provider in the engineer-to-order space.

No, don’t go with the first provider you find that “seems like a good fit.” Yes, shop around for one that satisfies your company’s specific needs while providing you the best ROI. Optimize for outcomes, not features.

As is the case with any service provider, no two are created equal.

Here are some features we encourage you to look for when considering engineer-to-order software:

  • Ability to seamlessly integrate with your existing architecture, such as B2B eCommerce platform, ERP, CRM/CPQ, CAD, or PLM systems.
  • Multiple visual experiences – 2D, 3D, AR, or VR.
  • Strong customer support that meets your company where they’re at and helps onboard your team.


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