by Tyler Stuber, Director of Professional Services/Operations
An implementation is adopting a software application into a business workflow. And at first glance that may sound simple, but it involves a lot of different moving parts. That’s why every implementation here at Centurisk follows a proven process designed to identify a client’s business needs, improve a client’s business workflow, and streamline their procedures for the ultimate success. Ensuring a smooth implementation requires transparency from both the client and those of us performing the implementation. As a professional services/operations director here at Centurisk, I’ve contributed to or worked as project lead on over fifteen implementations to-date. From this experience, I’ve noticed customers face some common challenges during the implementation process. Fortunately, if you’re looking to implement new software in your organization, there are some strategies you can use to address those challenges and help make your implementation go as smoothly as possible.
Assign a Project Manager and Core Project Representatives
Any successful implementation requires leaders on both the client and implementation sides. So it’s critical to identify a main contact, project manager, or project lead to make sure the project goes smoothly. This person becomes responsible to ensure all elements of the implementation are completed effectively and on-schedule. This contact should be identified at the start of the implementation project and should attend all progress meetings throughout the implementation. You should also consider assigning a core project team with representatives from all functional or operational areas of your business to actively participate in the implementation. This core group must have the authority and charter to make appropriate decisions regarding the implementation and final product. The core group of representatives should have complete knowledge and familiarity with your organization’s operations and objectives and, for consistency, should form the majority of the training team later in the project.
Coordinate an Official Kickoff
Setting this up is typically the responsibility of an effective implementation provider, but it’s worth mentioning here. To start the project off right, having a kickoff meeting between the implementation representatives, your project leader and your core project representatives is an in important step. It helps make sure everyone is on the same page, it defines roles, and it sets expectations for the length of the project.
Set Clearly-Defined Milestones and Deadlines
To help make the implementation a smoother process, your implementation project manager should provide a projected schedule of milestones, deadlines, and weekly or bi-weekly communication and health checks, to ensure the project remains on track throughout the process. During these meetings, the project manager can identify any potential issues that might require a change of scope, as well as show any potential areas for improvement.
Share Sample Data and Current Business Workflows
Make sure your implementation team has both some sample data and your current business workflows to review in advance of the full implementation. The purpose of this review is so your implementation provider gains a thorough understanding of current business processes and requirements. When current processes or workflows are shared, the implementation team can then easily identify potential enhancements to meet your needs and ensure processes are their most efficient. When sample data is provided prior to the implementation, the implementation team can get a head start on any data mapping and database configuration pieces of the project. This will help streamline the process while highlighting any potential issues early in the implementation.
Review the Project Scope Regularly
Change on any project is inevitable and sometimes it affects a project’s scope. To streamline this process, the project scope should be reviewed at each implementation milestone to ensure that both the client and implementation team are on the same page. The key is not eliminating change but handling it effectively when it occurs. The change management process begins when a member of the project team identifies an issue or new business need.
Smoother Software Implementations are Within Reach
By designating responsible leadership, employing regular, transparent team communications and ensuring a rigorous, proactive assessment of goals, you can make your software implementations a more efficient, less stressful process.