Buying a new software solution is exciting. There are flashy demos and dynamic presentations that show just how much the new technology will improve your business while making your life easier. Your reports will run faster and be more accurate, and you will save so much time that you won’t know what to do with yourself.
Then reality hits. The contract is signed, the check is cashed and it’s time to implement the software. The flashy presentations and solicitous salespeople disappear as you are handed off to the implementation team.
Unfortunately, software implementations often turn painful – sometimes with catastrophic results. In 2017, MillerCoors sued IT services company HCL Technologies for $100 million after their SAP implementation rolled out with eight critical severity defects, 47 high-severity defects, and thousands of additional problems. MillerCoors lost three years to the project.
It doesn’t have to be that way. You can enjoy a successful implementation if you follow a few simple steps.
Six steps to drive implementation success
- Evaluate your current processes carefully. You need to understand how your current system works for your business – whether it’s manual calculations with pen and paper, Excel spreadsheets, or a sophisticated ERP solution. What’s working well? What isn’t? How will the new system support, improve and enhance your business? You need a clear picture of where you are before you can successfully plan where you are going.
- Know what you need. It’s important that a new system provide the functionality that you need, and that it supports your business without hidden complications. Will the new system work with your other essential tools? You don’t want to get halfway through an implementation and realize the new system won’t integrate with some critical systems you have in place. Embrace new technology, but first ensure it will work with your business. New technology is only an asset if you can actually use it.
- Run a business process review before you buy. Evaluate and map your business processes and design an ideal implementation solution. Review your goals, resources, and expectations and identify both success and risk factors. Define key system configuration parameters and identify any changes required for your desired workflow. Create a custom implementation plan designed for your business.
- Customize your software. While the idea of out-of-the-box software sounds appealing, no two businesses are the same. The odds of purchasing a solution off the shelf and having it work perfectly with your unique and complicated business are low. You will need some customization to tailor the software for your business. Make sure you know exactly what customization is required upfront before you begin your implementation. Does it integrate with all your data and existing systems? Can it handle the number of users you have? How about the pricing models you use? Does it provide enhanced features – traceability, specialized accounting, user-defined alerts, real-time financial reporting, etc. – that you need to effectively run your business?
- Before you go live, run an exhaustive test with the new system using your data. Revive the parallel test – we know it’s out of favor, but it’s essential. Yes, it adds time to the implementation process, but it’s much better to find issues before you go live than after. Run a parallel test for several days, or even weeks, to ensure the system works the way you need and your users know how to use it. Learn from the test. Do you need to make some final tweaks or do additional training? Spend those weeks reviewing the new processes, so everyone is ready to engage when the test ends.
- Make sure the new company continues to evaluate your business beyond the implementation. Technology keeps changing. In the past decade we have witnessed a surge of software advances, including the proliferation of AI and machine learning, SaaS solutions, and mobile applications. Make sure any software provider you choose continues to invest in new technology and has a plan to assess how upgrades and enhancements will work with your system. Generic capabilities are not enough. Make sure they have a clear plan for how your specific, customized solution will work with new functionality, features, and technological breakthroughs.
Implementing new software is challenging, but you can mitigate the risks and improve the process by spending some time upfront ensuring you are purchasing a solution that works with your systems to accomplish your goals.
With iRely, you don’t have to worry. We work with you before, during and after your implementation to ensure you receive the solution you need to serve your business today and for years to come.
Learn how our comprehensive Business Process Review and User Acceptance Programs can enable fast, painless implementations so you can go live quickly, easily and confidently.