6 Travel Tips for Your Software Implementation Roadmap
You’ve selected new software and now the fun really begins – getting it implemented. A previous blog provided a “Software Implementation Overview: Why It’s Important,” which can help lay the foundation.
Here are some key tips for you and your Project Manager on the road to a successful software implementation.
1. Project preparation
A seasoned Project Manager will prepare and guide your team through implementation planning, identifying key tasks / deliverables, establishing program metrics and reporting on progress throughout your project. Keeping on schedule can be one of the toughest parts of an implementation project but a good Project Manager will lead the way. (Read more about how to select a Project Manager.)
2. Implementation plan
Your plan should include overall design of the new system along with necessary interfaces, configuration options and tools that will meet your needs. Always try to use the software as designed, i.e., “Out-of-the-Box.” If that doesn’t meet your requirements, then (and only then) consider customizations on the current software – always keeping in mind the impact of current modifications and future upgrades.
One example of a necessary customization involves a recent manufacturing client. If a customer purchased a service contract, supporting products were offered at a discount. These discounts varied by product group due to specialized engineering requirements. The client was trying to keep track of this entire process manually, which meant some things were getting missed. This led to customer frustration, invoice credits and delayed payments.
The solution was to create an automatic check for an existing service contract and pricing discount in the Order Entry module. This customization was implemented using a call out routine that minimizes the impact of any future software upgrades. Aside from eliminating invoice errors, this change resulted in cost savings, fewer labor hours and, best of all, more satisfied customers!
3. Data Conversion is critical!
Evaluate any data you wish to bring into the new system. Identify your data conversion tools and the data integrity elements required in your new system – they may be different than your current system requirements. Decide what history needs to come over in the conversion and understand the costs and consequences of that decision.
4. Testing user acceptance
Testing can prove that the software works properly or may raise unanticipated problems. During testing, users may request additional enhancements that lead to scope creep. Weigh these factors against the schedule requirements and escalate any delays to project sponsor(s).
Aside from testing everything, running a parallel test to the current system will greatly increase the chances for success. It’s important to have users heavily involved in testing. User acceptance is essential. Developers tend to test what they know and how the system is supposed to work. Users can be much more creative!
5. Training and go live
Training and support are vital to ensure strong adoption of the new system. Documentation is crucial and how-to tutorials provide long-term information sources – both are extremely helpful for initial deployment and when new employees are brought on board.
6. Post-launch support
One final tip – rarely can you simply walk away once a new system is installed. Just as the world and business evolve, so must the supporting software. Don’t underestimate the value of post-launch support and a good project manager beyond the deployment date.