The Best Way to Implement New Software
“Beck Technology’s approach to implementation was one of our major deciding factors in choosing DESTINI Estimator,” says Korte Senior Estimator Brian Marks. “It’s been a great process and a good partnership so far.”
Your company has spent many days, months, possibly years researching, evaluating, and test-driving a particular software and now it’s time to implement. Where to start? After you’ve signed off on proposals and hammered out contracts, you inevitably have to face the next, and in some ways, most important, step: the task of getting that software set up and running properly among everyone on your team.
It’s a task that can be incredibly thankless, grueling, and tedious. There’s the issue of making sure everyone has the right access to the software; training users in the software; checking with IT in order to avoid firewall conflicts and other related problems. This is one of the greatest challenges of moving to any new tool: the time it takes to get it fully stood up and have everyone onboarded correctly. After working with hundreds of clients we’ve narrowed it down to three main must-haves when implementing any software.
- Choose your implementation lead & team
- Detailed customized implementation plan
- Take the time to do things right the first time
Taking these must-haves one at a time…
1. Choose your Implementation Lead and Team
First and foremost you need a champion that will rally the troops and be passionate about change. Identify a core group that has a passion for technology and understands the frustration of the current processes that the new software will remedy. Haselden Construction got creative when choosing its implementation team. Senior, Estimator, Matt Hammer actually put out an internal job description for an Implementation Leader. He says, “It lined out what the Implementation Leader was going to be doing over the next year. We wanted volunteers. I selected candidates who knew how to estimate well but also were technically savvy. The implementation period is a part-time job on top of your full-time job so you need people who want this change. Figure out how to incentivize it for your team. Our team will be graded and their bonus structure will be based on how successfully we implement this product."
For Haselden, they knew what marked a successful DESTINI Estimator implementation and they rewarded the selected team for meeting those goals. Depending on your company size you might need a person from every region as part of this team. A member from your IT department can work hand in hand with your Implementation Leader to make sure that technically speaking everything you want to happen can happen.
2. Detailed Customized Implementation Plan
Not every vendor is going to have their own plan so sometimes it might fall on your team’s shoulders to come up with this actionable calendar of events. In fact, after 20+ years on the job Doug Maiden, Beck Technology Manager of Professional Services will tell you, “Most software vendors do not create an implementation plan for a company. They sell boxes of software and say, ‘Good luck,’ then it’s a la carte for training and support. That’s like buying a car and not thinking about the cost of oil, tires, and gas.”
Doug has learned that support and training should be part of the total cost of implementation. The last thing you want to do is blindside your brand new client with costs and time they did not expect! Beck Technology is able to offer its all-inclusive implementation support thanks to its careful implementation planning, which is built on real-world expectations and factors that are unique to each client’s business and workflow.
Once in implementation, our clients not only have an assigned Implementation Lead they can always contact but also receive access to our support team. If needed, support can jump on a call with you to help you through the problem. You should never feel like you are alone in making this Implementation Plan come to completion.
A plan doesn’t only just include dates but also includes what you want to accomplish. For instance, if you know your organization needs this implemented by the end of the year, have that as your end goal and figure out what milestones need to happen weekly or monthly to make that go-live date a real possibility. How often should you be meeting as an implementation team to make sure everything is on schedule? Make these meetings non-negotiable. If someone on your team can’t attend, record it to make sure everyone is up to speed on the progress.
3. Take the Time to Do Things Right the First Time
You’ve committed to implementing new software. Money has been spent. A team has been selected. At the very least you can make sure you do it right! Don’t be one of those companies that buy the software but fast forward years later and it is still on the shelf because they are overwhelmed and never took the time to actually implement. Follow through with what you said you were going to do. This is why it’s so important to have an implementation team to help hold you accountable for the deadlines you set. If you don't meet those deadlines is it going to hurt your business? It sure isn't going to make the Implementation team look good to upper management if they aren't doing everything in their power to thoroughly complete their milestones.
A successful implementation means your entire team is using the new software to its full potential. In this ideal reality, everyone wins, right? Pick your implementation leads, identify milestones and dates, and take the time to do it right the first time.
Want to immerse yourself in even more ways to make implementation a success? Watch Doug Maiden share his best practices below.