I’ve been involved with hundreds of software implementations throughout my career. Most of them have gone off without a major hitch, but there are always bumps in the road. One of our Core Values at The Vested Group is “Appreciate that Failure is Learning,” and the obstacles faced in these projects over the years have taught me many lessons along the way. Through experience, I’ve learned a few essential elements that help ensure a successful software implementation.
1. The Right Plan
When embarking on any sizable project, it helps to have a clear-cut plan with attainable and measurable goals. Implementing a new software system is a huge undertaking for a company, and the planning stage is essential to the health of the entire project.
At The Vested Group, we take planning seriously. We encourage our clients to begin new projects with something we call Phase Zero. Phase Zero takes an average of one to two weeks to complete but can also take over a month, depending on the situation. Each Phase Zero is conducted according to the client’s specific needs, and no two Phase Zeros are exactly the same. During this time, our consultants work with clients, giving them their undivided attention and brainpower. We begin with a project kickoff, which includes introductions, establishing goals, and determining the “why” of your project. We identify your 3-4 signature processes, and these become the main focus where we define, prioritize, create, and review solutions custom-tailored to your business needs.
I emphasize this stage so much because it’s crucial to the project’s success as a whole. A thorough plan helps everyone involved tackle obstacles that might come up later.
2. The Emotional Side of Software
My employees and I are “Agents of Change,” and every significant change comes with its own set of unique challenges. Unlike many other software consulting firms, The Vested Group works closely with clients to address each implementation’s emotional side.
There are unexpected twists and turns to any project, and software implementation is no different. In addition to designing and transitioning a company’s systems, we are there to support the client if they ever feel uneasy about how their project is progressing. A thorough and realistic plan of attack helps clients by giving them a blueprint to refer to in tense moments.
A client’s employees also have to adjust to new processes, sometimes after doing things the same way for many years. This learning curve can (understandably) cause a bit of panic. Because they’re not well-acquainted with the new system, employees can be resistant to learning how to make it work to their advantage. We approach this element of the client journey with empathy and understanding, and we will work with clients and their employees to show them how new systems can work in their favor, not against them.
3. What Comes After Go-Live
Imagine that your software implementation is complete. Your staff is thoroughly trained and seems to be transitioning well. You say goodbye to your implementation team, and now, you’re on your own. Maybe you still have questions on some of those lower priority punch list items. Or now that you’ve been using your new system for a while, new questions have come up. Perhaps there are some enhancements you’d like to make now that you are comfortable with the way everything is working. Who can you turn to?
Nothing is more frustrating than being left to your own devices when using new, complex technology. The Vested Group offers clients a full range of post-implementation support, from troubleshooting any roadblock that pops up to executing those next-phase enhancements. When putting together your project team, make sure you choose partners who aim to form lasting relationships beyond your project end date. Cultivate a team of trusted advisors – this will help your business run smoothly and give you peace of mind.