What is a software implementation plan, and why do you need one? The answer’s simple: a software implementation plan helps you find and deploy the right software for your business’s needs. It makes sure you collaborate with the correct people and lets you avoid making hasty decisions. Most of all, it ensures end users get a solution they truly need.
If you want to avoid hitches and complications in your software implementation process, follow these guidelines.
5 Phases of an Effective Software Implementation Plan
Today, small businesses have incredible opportunities to compete against the big guys. The right tools and software can:
- Help employees improve processes
- Optimize workflows
- Increase productivity
- Improve the customer experience
Adopting new software is a time-consuming and not inexpensive process. Without a pre-implementation plan in place, the odds increase your software adoption will fail. We want to help prevent that from happening. Here’s what we recommend.
1. Develop a Roadmap
Some people define it as building your business case. Others call it like it is—justifying a proposed project based on its benefits. Whatever you call it, the goal is to avoid costly mistakes that could hurt your business financially and reputationally.
Things to consider include:
- Defining your pain points. What challenges are you facing? What needs improvement? Talk to relevant stakeholders and staff to get the answers and align your business objectives with your goals.
- Determining a solution. Are you looking to improve employee productivity and efficiency? Create a detailed outline of how your new software will accomplish those goals.
- Conducting a cost and benefit analysis. Building a solid business case helps you justify your investment. It’s essential to analyze both tangible and intangible costs you’ll incur and gains you stand to achieve.
- Develop a timeline. Set realistic time expectations for how long it will take to evaluate the software, implement it, and realize a return.
- Plan how you’ll manage change. Most organizational transformations fail. A big reason for this is the lack of buy-in from leaders and staff. You’ll need to make your case and prove how you’ll steer clear of the mistakes other organizations have made.
2. Plan, Plan, and Plan Some More
If you thought planning was an important part of a software implementation plan, you were right. The more detailed you get at this stage, the greater your chances of success. Interviews with end-users, creative sessions with engineers and owners, and available data analysis all help you filter out extraneous or unrealistic ideas and keep you focused on the big picture. Now’s the time to identify which processes and teams will be affected by the software implementation. You’ll want to consider every possible process the new software might affect:
- How long will the implementation last?
- Will it be done in stages or all at once?
- Will it require new security measures?
- Who’s going to train the end-users?
3. Process and Solution Designs
When implementing new software, you typically need to adjust various processes to the logic used to build the software. Hiring a software development company ensures the appropriate process design methods are used.
A solution design is essentially a business process roadmap where you map the new software to your business requirements, so everything works in tandem. Along the way—sometimes even months after the software’s launched—you may realize other methods work better. Solution design identifies which features of your new software can be used just as they are and which aspects will need to be customized to fit your needs and goals.
Businesses customize software to meet specific business environments, processes, and needs. Software customization varies greatly depending on each requirement. It can be as simple as adding new fields or as complex as building new automation or modules. You should only customize processes that make sense for your specific business needs. There’s no advantage in customizing for its own sake.
5. Training and Testing
They come last, but training and testing are certainly not the least critical phases. Training differs from user to user, but the end goal is the same: you don’t want software no one wants to use. To avoid having to force people to use new software:
- Prepare them for the implementation as early as you can. The sooner people know a change is coming, the more accepting of it they’ll likely be.
- Assign a change manager who gives users answers to their questions, additional training, feedback, and other information.
- Make sure everyone understands the tremendous benefits the software offers.
As preliminary testing and feedback reveal shortcomings in the software, the development team will need to make incremental changes or even roll back to earlier versions. Like training, testing’s an ongoing process that needs to be done throughout the software implementation process, including after the team’s been using the software for a while.
Implementations can be stressful, but working with the on-demand development team at Zibtek makes the process a whole lot more enjoyable. To learn more about how we do it, get in touch with us today.