More than ever, businesses need to have the right software systems in place to streamline their workflow, increase efficiency and generate more revenue. The right system can provide an edge to businesses that face a lot of competition in their industries.

Software implementation is easier said than done, though. Not only does it require a major commitment in terms of time, but it also requires a significant financial investment. A botched implementation can not only result in a loss of that investment but it may also negatively impact the growth of the business.

If you follow these 5 steps for building a solid software implementation plan, you’ll have a better chance of protecting your investment and achieving the desired results after shifting to your new software system.

What is a software implementation plan?

Think of the software implementation plan as a checklist that needs to be put together before the software is deployed. The checklist needs to mention the things that have to be done before the actual implementation stage.

This ensures that there's minimal disruption to your business even if an entirely new software system is being implemented as everyone knows exactly what's going to happen and when. The people in charge of executing the implementation are also aware of precisely what they have to do and in what order.

A software implementation plan may cover the following:

  • What needs to be implemented?
  • When will the process begin and what needs to be checked beforehand?
  • Are users required to log out of their systems before implementation?
  • Is the implementation to be done outside business hours or during a set time window?
  • How will the existing system be backed up before implementation?
  • What the roll back procedure will be if the need arises?
  • Who is going to handle support requests from users?

A software implementation plan can help your business strategy succeed.

The right software tools can make a significant contribution to the growth of your business. Many businesses actually prefer custom software solutions since they can have tools built that are specifically built with the needs of their business in mind.

You may have created a strategy for your business based on the tools that you get developed. Therefore,custom software solutions should perform exactly as you need them to. If they don’t, the skewed data will make it impossible to execute your business strategy.

A well thought out software implementation plan will ensure that there are no surprises during the execution stage. Once everything is up and running exactly as it should be, the software will be able to perform up to its full potential and thus help your business strategy succeed.

Here’s how to build a software implementation plan.

So your software is ready; now comes the part where it actually needs to be rolled out across the company. Here are 5 steps that you should follow to build a solid software implementation plan:

  1. Evaluation

    First, evaluate whether your teams, IT structure and operations are ready for such a substantial change. Check if there's a need to roll out new equipment and if significant training will be required for employees so that they can get the best out of the new system.

    This is also the stage where you figure out if there will be any problems related to duplicated data or processes if an existing system is being replaced. Relevant steps can then be taken to mitigate the problem.

    You would probably not want to execute the plan during the busiest season for your business. Evaluating what might be the safest time for you to undertake such a massive task will help prevent the possibility of things going horribly wrong at a time when your business can least afford it.
  2. Open Communication

    There’s no point in deploying an entirely new system until and unless the people who are supposed to use it know exactly why the change is being made. So open communication with your employees is key.Clearly explain the reasons why they'll have to alter the way they have been doing things. Most people don't necessarily like change and might feel antagonized by having to change the way they have been working for years.

    It needs to be demonstrated to them how the new software will make their lives easier. For those who feel that the old ways didn't really need to be changed, be upfront about the reasons why the change is being implemented and how the business stands to benefit from it.
  3. Testing

    Once your vendor has built the software based on your requirements, you have to properly test it first. This needs to be done so that any bugs in the software can be discovered and fixed before a full-scale deployment.

    Undiscovered bugs can quickly cause havoc if the system isn't properly tested and rolled out company-wide. It will cause an unnecessary disruption in operations and depending upon the nature of the bug, could even cause serious problems for the business.

    For example, a security vulnerability that evades detection could end up being exploited and lead to a loss of company or user data. Such problems can be avoided by rolling out the software to a group of beta testers first.
  4. Resource Allocation

    The key to a successful software implementation is adequate resource implementation. You need to make sure that enough resources in the form of personnel, time and money are available to successfully execute the plan.

    One great way to go about this is by gaming out all possible scenarios that may arise and what may be required to address them. This exercise will help build contingency plans that can be used in case things go awry. It will also enable you to determine whether sufficient resources are present or if there are gaps that need to be filled before implementation.
  5. Optimization

    The launch is just one part of a software implementation plan. There needs to be a solid optimization plan as well which tracks feedback from the users and leverages that to further optimize the software.

    The optimization plan should include the metrics that need to be tracked so that you can figure out if the implementation was a success. If the results are not what you desired, those metrics will also tell you where improvements need to be made, whether the processes need to be improved further or if the employees need more training.

Maintain your implementation plan.

Once you have an implementation plan, stick to it to get the best possible ROI on your custom software. This involves creating a system which allows for easy collaboration within the team so that all of the updates can be monitored and the progress can be reported to key decision makers at the right time.

This encourages participation by all team members as they feel they have a stake in the successful implementation. Their feedback is quickly taken onboard and any changes required are made to the plan without causing any disruption in the workflow.

It all starts with the right custom software.

The software implementation stage obviously comes after you’ve had custom software made for your business. Finding the right vendor is the most important part of this entire process.

The developer of your custom software needs to truly understand your business needs and be invested enough in the project to suggest changes that may be beneficial. Ongoing support is also crucial, both for feature enhancements and ensuring that the software remains free of bugs.

You need to be sure about how the developer intends to work with you as a client and what kind of support they are willing to extend. Know what their implementation processes are and what sort of product testing they can perform. All of these things can make or break the implementation.

Outsourcing the job to an overseas developer isn't going to get you as great of a customer experience. It may seem appealing from a cost standpoint but the resulting issues may cause more headaches in the long run.

They won't even be able to see your operations in person, which may lead to a disconnect between what the preferred vision is for the project. An all hands on deck approach is much better suited to these kinds of complicated plans.

That's why Zibtek stands out: as one of the world's leading software development companies, it has developed solutions for both Fortune 500s and startups alike to help them reduce cost, increase revenue and transform their business.

Zibtek has offices in the United States, so its clients can always get support in their time-zone. Its global network of technology specialists can also help you scale your business with custom software solutions, regardless of where it may be located.