6 Keys To A Successful Software Implementation
The successful implementation of complex business software is always tricky. There’s a lot that can go wrong and impact your business processes, personnel, and existing software systems. However, with the right leadership approach, project management, and communication tools, you can improve your chances of streamlining this process and ensuring the new system is implemented and adopted successfully.
We are well aware of the challenges that come with implementing new business software and recommend focusing on the following to dramatically reduce the risk of failure.
1. Support from Leadership
It starts at the top, and research shows that strong and unwavering leadership support is a critical success factor in ensuring organization-wide adoption of new software. Leaders must continually encourage, motivate, and remove obstacles for the key personnel responsible for the implementation of the new system. The priority of the project should be high to keep the implementation team’s focus crystal clear. A new business system is a transformational endeavor, and a leadership team that is focused on positive transformation will have greater success than those who tend toward “business-as-usual” processes.
Leadership with the help of the project manager must also monitor team performance, achievement of milestones, and remind team member’s supervisors of the commitment that their people are making for the advancement of the organization. Additionally, leadership should participate at a high level during the project through a periodic project steering meeting which will apprise them of any issues that need to be resolved by them. These meetings will also give leadership the key metrics they need to determine the trajectory of the project.
2. Clear Project Goals
Like other projects, major software implementations require clear project goals and objectives. There will be certain goals that can be measured and achieved during the project, some at the point of going live on a new system, and others may not be achieved until months after the new system is fully implemented. These goals and objectives must be determined before the onset of the project and communicated to all stakeholders. The goals and objectives must be part of the project charter so that the implementation team has a written document to reference as key decisions are made throughout the implementation.
You’ll hear us talk about SMART goals whenever we talk about developing goals. While it isn’t practical to assign a SMART goal to each project goal, the more SMART goals you have the better you can measure your achievements. What are SMART goals?
Feel free to contact Results Technology Group if you want some examples of SMART goals related to a software implementation project.
3. Focus on Project Scope
Once you have clarified the project scope, it’s crucial you don’t deviate from the project plan without a rigorous review of the “why” behind the change. You should expect some minor adjustments as your implementation team’s knowledge and understanding of the new system deepens. What you should avoid at almost all costs are any major changes to the plan. Many organizations struggle with implementing business software because it is almost always an additional work burden on some of your best people.
This reality cannot be avoided.
What can be avoided is extending the implementation timeline because new ideas surface that are forced into the previously agreed upon implementation plan. Planning in advance for a phase 2 or beyond is a good business practice. This allows you to complete your project and move the new ideas to a secondary phase after your implementation team has had time to recharge.
4. Consistent Communication
Clear and consistent communication is another critical success factor shepherding successful software implementations. We recommend project managers and other individuals involved clearly articulate the project’s progress, celebrate milestones, and engage in discussions that can help innovate and improve the process.
Developing a communication plan at the beginning of the project is key. Who will you communicate with about the project? What will you communicate to different audiences? How often will you communicate? What mode will you use to communicate about the project?
Sometimes organizations forget about communicating with crucial stakeholders: customers, clients, and/or members. While these groups will not be using the new system directly, the new system could impact them. While the goal is to have a positive impact on your outside stakeholders, many of them have gone through a major system upgrade and have “mental baggage” related to those experiences.
It’s paramount to articulate the thoughtful process that you are following during the implementation so that you instill confidence in this important group of people. The timing and the message of this communication is very important. We often see the marketing department involved with the creation of these communications so that it conveys the correct tone.
5. Empowered Teams
Implementation team members must have the authority to make business decisions for the department that they represent. This can save valuable time and allow the organization to overcome obstacles that impede the project’s progress. It can also enable better decision-making since the team can discuss each other’s concerns about decisions and make sound ones that best serve the organization.
So how important is it to have your “A” players on the implementation team...critically important. While it might be tempting to put some of your less busy employees on the implementation team, please don’t do it. A project of this magnitude requires your best resources. Yes, it is challenging to pull your best onto a project that might consume 4-8 hours of their time per week. From experience, it can be much worse for the organization to have a poorly implemented solution that takes twice as long to execute.
6. Recognize the Importance of Innovation
If your organization has a culture that is anti-innovation, read no further. Unless you are the CEO, good luck with creating an innovative culture.
If you do recognize the importance of being innovative and you are not on an island with that belief, then you need to emphasize the innovation that will come from this software implementation. This can happen on a Zoom call with colleagues, at the water cooler, or even when you are getting together socially after work. Certainly much of the reinforcement of the value of this project will come from the leadership team, but it shouldn’t be the only time you hear about digital transformation or innovation.
A major software project will undoubtedly bring changes to the organization. Change is hard for some people. To help ease their pain and reluctance to change, emphasizing the innovative aspects of the project can go a long way to bringing them onboard.
Results Technology Group provides technology services to our clients with best-in-class software selection, project management, and business technology leadership services. To learn more about our software implementation expertise and capabilities, schedule a free 30-minute technology discussion.