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Five Steps to a Smooth Software Implementation

Blog Post
January 3, 2023

When you throw a rock in the water, it can make a big splash… Or it can float down without disturbing the calm. That peaceful transition is what you are looking for when doing change management in a business—and even more true when you’re implementing a new platform.

Rolling out new software to your business is a sometimes time-consuming process known as implementation: the introduction of a new platform or other software to a company’s way of doing business.

Software Implementation Planning

Project plans for a software implementation, what are usually called software implementation plans—are about solving for your company’s business needs with minimal fuss. The perfect software for your needs is out there, or something like it. But finding and adopting a new system can be costly in terms of finances and human resources. You need a plan in place before the process starts, to ensure your success in this software adoption.

You’ll make measured decisions, create the best team possible, configure and train—making sure everyone in the company is aware of the benefits.

The Classic System for Software Implementation

Most guides will give you the following step-by-step, in so many words:

  1. First, you create your business case for the new software: Why you want it and how it will work
  2. Then you head out to the marketplace to find the best vendor and program fit
  3. Plan out your time management and scope the project so you don’t get lost in the weeds
  4. Train and introduce it to the wider team
  5. Create a user feedback loop so the software stays in play and is used effectively.

This is a valid and time-tested procedure that takes into account most or all of the issues you may face. But in practice, it may be missing some of the human element. This guide aims to add to that helpful advice with an alternate look at some of the other steps you can take to help ensure a smooth implementation.

New Programs Deserve New Processes

We’re often told 70% of organizational transformations fail, which means using every tool at your disposal to get it right.

In addition to that statistic, McKinsey also tells us that when frontline staff members feel a “sense of ownership,” internal transformation achieves a 70% success rate. And when those front liners “take the initiative to drive change,” success rises to 79%.

That means getting buy-in from the start is the most important preparation you can do.

  1. Consider the pain points for all stakeholders, getting their input, so you can figure out what most needs improvement and what requests and requirements can work together in a given software. These pain point profiles will come in handy at the end when it’s time to make sure everyone is using the new program as it’s intended—you can demonstrate the problem and how your chosen software fixes it.
  2. Your business case here develops out of cost/benefit analysis. There are both concrete and intangible needs that a successful implementation can meet, and the same for costs you’re already incurring. It can also help develop your timeline expectations—and make the benefits of use clearer for those teammates who may be put off by the idea of change.
  3. Change management techniques are crucial for a smooth implementation phase: that means telling your team as early as possible about any changes coming up, with what details you can offer on what you’re trying to do. Once you’ve decided on a system, make sure everyone’s aware of what will happen when you push the button.
  4. You’ll need different teammates to evaluate the new system, activate it, and discover how to use it to its full potential. Clearly defined roles will help here. Understanding the reasons for the change, and how they will help, is crucial for the team as a whole. Assign a change manager to spearhead the transformation, giving team members a focus person for questions, training, feedback, and other important info.
  5. It also means reinforcing the change once it has taken place, by measuring and rewarding wins. If you’ve planned for cost/benefits correctly, you should have no trouble demonstrating the software’s value to the people that really matter: the ones who will be working with it regularly.

Bringing Change Home

You want to ensure you get successful adoption of new software, and that’s a large ask. That’s why it’s so important to reduce downtime and revenue loss by planning ahead, keeping in scope, thinking about team dynamics and strengths, and keeping everyone in the loop.

Communication, from start to finish and especially afterward, is key to making sure you get where you’re going — without any of that noisy splashing around.

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