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Keys to a Successful and Timely Software Implementation: Part 2

September 28, 2018
This is a guest article from Virtual Systems, a valued BCC Software partner.

As discussed in Virtual Systems’ latest guest article, transitioning to a new software system or migrating to an updated version of a program can seem like a daunting task for everyone involved. Assigning the right people to specific roles during a software integration establishes the foundation for the transition and supports employee buy-in. The next step in the process is to establish and communicate the vision for the change so that everyone in a role is sharing a consistent and supportive message with the organization.

The Process

During this sort of internal transition, it’s common to hear from staff, “why do we have to change?” Often these objections come from a place of comfort with the status quo, or possible anxiety about the change and what it could mean for their day-to-day. Improve employee buy-in to support a successful implementation by creating a clear vision of the system benefits and share it with the entire team.

Establish the Vision

Make a short list of the most important benefits employees can expect from the software implementation.  Examples might be: consolidate from three systems to one, eliminate redundant data entry or islands of information, improve scheduling, provide better communications for sales and customer service, increase client retention, win more deals, reduce direct labor costs, and utilize cloud-based systems to improve information access. Keep the list high level to clearly communicate how the program will improve day-to-day operations.

Communicate the Vision

This list of key objectives you develop must be supported by the champion as well as the executive team and other key influencers.  Every person in a primary role must be prepared to respond to questions or concerns. The reality is that sometimes a user may need to sacrifice their own convenience and preferences in the short term in order for the business to achieve a higher-level objective.  Again, this is common, so you need to be prepared to challenge any sign of negativity with the vision.

Share the Vision

Company meetings are a perfect time for business owners and managers to discuss the new system as it is being implemented. Communicate the vision and objectives with the entire staff during this time. Ask for questions. Handle concerns before they become overly sensitive.  Set realistic expectation, even if the reality is it may take a while for the transition to be complete, but your organization will be better in the end because of it. Keep communication consistent and address concerns openly.

Follow the 80/20 Rule 

Attempting a complete initial software implementation that addresses every activity and process is a recipe for disaster. Trying to do this increases implementation time and frustrates everyone. Instead, a great way to manage this challenge is to have a Phase 1 and Phase 2 implementation process that follows the 80/20 rule. This rule of software implementation means that you should design and configure your system around the activities that happen 80% of the time.  Many companies are able to go live with the 80% scenario as long as reasonable accommodation has been made. Once the initial implementation is complete, you can begin addressing the remaining 20% of activities. Establish a specific time frame for each phase so that people who are waiting for the final 20% are assured that their time will come.

Be Nurturing

Change can be more difficult for some people than others, so it is important to understand that some users often need to be nurtured through the change. This nurturing may be as simple as active listening and emotional feed-back, while other times it could require reasonable accommodation with the software. The Champion should be designated as the primary nurturer throughout implementation.

Bottom Line

Successful software implementation requires a vision of the benefits and value of the program that is shared with the staff. Without this effort, resistance is likely which can lengthen the time required for implementation or cause it to fail completely. Avoid these disasters by presenting a consistent message and providing additional support to your employees. This process, combined with the right people in key roles, will lead to a timely and successful implementation.

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