How to Implement a New Software System
So you have decided on a system that fits your business needs, so how do you go about implementing it? With systems integrating and possibly changing the way departments work, you are going to need to prepare for it. Plus if the changes do cover a number of departments, they are all going to need to be involved (at some point) to ensure the implementation goes smoothly.
Let’s look at some of the people and areas you will need to consider for your implementation.
USERS & ROLES:
Create a team
The key to a successful roll out will be the people involved. A team of people managing the implementation will be far more successful than if left to an individual to project manage. Don’t get me wrong, you will need that someone to oversee it all, but to rely on one person to do everything is a bad idea.
Clearly they’ve signed off on the investment but securing their support throughout the implementation process is critical. There must be a buy in to the change process if it’s going to work well. Directors and managers can heavily influence opinion from the start.
The day to day users of most systems. These are the people who will be at the hub of the systems success. Talk to them about their current processes and what can be improved with the new system, where you can save time and what current good practices you may want to keep.
Look at what you can lose in the current method of working to improve and streamline your business (i.e. paperwork, excel spreadsheets, duplicated data entry).
If your new system links to your mobile workers in any way, then these also need planning into your implementation goals. You will need to look at their current processes and how it will change the way they work. Not forgetting of course, if it is say a mobile solution, somebody will need to teach them how to use it.
A lot of systems these days connect or export information ready for your finance team and accounts package. This comes more into your data set up, but again need considering about what you need ready and when. Your finance team will also want certain information in or exported out of the system when it’s live, so it’s a great idea to involve them in your planning.
A super user is the person within your business who is the ‘go to’ user. This is the one person who is overseeing or the link to most departments involvement during the implementation, as well as being the person users will go to in the future with questions. He or she will liaise with your system provider discussing data set up or imports, training needs, branding of the system outputs (i.e. any customer facing document), as well as helping perhaps decide what permissions certain users can have.
The how much resource will I need to put into this? is the normal sixty four thousand dollar question. It’s probably the hardest part to get accurate, but it should not stop you planning and getting your resource ready in advance.
The setup and/or the data entry is going to be the largest resource drainer. Ensure you consider what needs to go into your new system during setup and how much data will need to be inputted. Of course the obvious thing is to make sure that when you go live you have enough resources in place to make it a success.
Another consideration, which falls into resources also, is training on the new system. This needs to be planned into your implementation at the right point, to allow your users to be given the correct training over the correct amount of time. This clearly differs in size on different systems, however it should be something that gets your full attention and planning to the level of who gets trained on what and when. The system provider will give you solid guidelines and timescales on all this.
A lot of providers now offer data migration into their systems. Taking data from your current system and importing it into your new one. This could be from simple spreadsheets you have in place, or from an existing system you may have outgrown or are unhappy with. Either way, talk to your provider and discuss what data can be taken across. Remember, it also gives you an opportunity to clean up your current data, before it goes into the new system.
Go Live/Roll Out
Okay, so you have got everything ready, set up, imported and you are all good to go, what happens on the day?
There are a few things to consider first :
Do we roll everything out all at once? If you have acquired a system that integrates in numerous areas of your business it is feasible to launch all of them at once, but again, see the point on Resources above and make sure you have it all in place to do this.
Can we roll out certain parts of the system, and then launch the rest? Most modern systems will allow you to do this and it is of course an option. Sometimes launching, say, the administration side first allows users to build confidence and trust in the system before you then perhaps bring in the mobile or finance section.
Both are an option but you will need to decide on this, during your implementation road map, before actioning it at the very end.
What happens if we have got something wrong? Simply, don’t panic! Most system providers have a strong support back up who will help and guide you through the early stages. Some also have video tutorials and user guides available.
You could also ask your provider if they offer a consultancy/go live day service where a member of their team is on site, on hand to help with any teething issues. This again gives the users confidence knowing they are on site to help when needed.
The trick with any implementation is preparation and planning. When setting up any new system give it the time it needs to prepare it and give it your full attention when going live. Remember you invested in the software to improve your business, streamline procedures and make efficiency gains. It’s going to need your help to do that.