If you have the developed software for your company, you are a half-way to success. To get long-term value and recover the costs on the new system developed, the business should have an implementation plan of how to do it step-by-step.
This article will share the leading strategies and practical tips for painless integration of software into work processes.
And let’s start with reasons for implementing software first.
Reasons to implement new software
There are at least 4 reasons to adopt new software in an organization:
- Primary automation of a group of tasks: nowadays the automation is a necessity. If your company does something manually and routinely but can be automated, you are merely wasting time, money, and most likely valuable corporate data. Automate this!
- Replacement of one software for another for some reason: due to obsolescence of the current system, or new requirements, scaling, change of activity, etc.
- Scaling of a current system with new modules for development and growth: for example, the company opened a new branch and needs a bigger system with a full set of functionality.
- Considerable interface and functional software update.
Of course, in the first 2 cases, problems with implementing will be the most measurable. And here, we proceed to the strategies for replacing/upgrading the software in a company.
Strategies of Implementation
In world practice, there are three main strategies for switching and adapting to new software.
Adopting the Big Bang method is the most rigid transition when you set the exact date and carry out an abrupt migration, disabling the old software by 100%.
- All employees work in one system, there is no need to sync the data, the staff does not need to follow two interfaces at once.
- Simplicity for an admin: one migration, the support of a single platform, etc.
- All possible changes are done simultaneously and are noticeable almost immediately; there is no need to detect and isolate the factors that influenced productivity, development speed, sales, etc.
- It works successfully only with simple software: chats, corporate portal, instant messengers. Even e-mail can already malfunction, not to mention project management systems, CRM / ERP, and other serious systems.
- “Explosive" migration from a large system to another will inevitably cause chaos.
The most important thing for this type of transition is a training plan for employees.
Parallel adaptation to software is a softer and most versatile way of transition. This strategy allows the company to set time during which both systems will function simultaneously.
- Users have enough time to get used to the new software, quickly working in the old one; employees have the opportunity to find parallels between 2 software solutions, to delve into the new logic of interface interaction.
- In case of sudden problems, employees continue to work in the old system.
- User training is less rigorous and generally cheaper.
- There is practically no negative reaction from employees: they were not deprived of their usual tool or way of doing things (if automation is happening for the first time).
- Issues with administration: support for both systems, data synchronization, security management in two apps at once.
- The transition process is ''stretched'': employees realize they have time to adopt new software, so they can proceed using the familiar interface for a while.
- User confusion: two interfaces are confusing and cause operational and data errors.
- Costs: you pay for both systems.
Phased adaptation is the softest option for switching to new software. The transition is carried out functionally, in the agreed timeframes, and by divisions.
- Organized transition, distributed workload on administrators and internal experts.
- Smarter and deeper learning.
- There is no resistance to changes because it happens as gently as possible.
About the same as a parallel transition.
So what, is it just a phased adoption? In fact, not everything is so simple.
What to choose?
There are some core factors affecting the choice of one or another strategy.
- The complexity of software
If we are talking about complex software (for example, a CRM system), Phases Adoption is more suitable. If the software is simple (messenger, corporate portal), then the Big Bang model is appropriate.
- The degree of risk for the company
The riskier is the implementation, the slower it should be. On the other hand, procrastination is also a risk. For example, you move from one CRM system to another. During the transition period, you have to pay for both systems, thereby increasing the costs.
- Staff strength
Big Bang won't work if you need to scale and customize multiple user profiles. In such cases, the one better considers two other options. However, there are times when ultra-fast implementation is a blessing for a large company. For example, in the case of non-customizable systems used by the majority of employees.
- Features of implementing the selected software (upgrade, etc.)
Sometimes the implementation is initially phased: we define the requirements first, then do the upgrade, conduct training, etc.
Agents of influence: employees involved in a process
The first thing to look out for is the employees who will be affected by implementing the new software. We are now considering a 100% human factor, so analysis of employees' impact cannot be avoided.
- Company executives determine how the new software will be generally adopted. Here it is essential to show precisely the need for changes, to convey the idea that this is just a choice of a more convenient tool, the same as replacing an old laptop. The biggest mistake of management in such a situation is ignoring the case: if the management does not need the company's automation, why should employees be interested in it? Be in the process.
- Heads of departments (project managers) are an intermediate link that must necessarily participate in all processes, manage the issues, work out colleagues' objections, and conduct high-quality and deep learning.
- On the one hand, end-users usually want to work well and comfortably and, on the other hand, are afraid of change like any living person. The main reasoning for them is honest and straightforward: why are we introducing/changing the system, what are the boundaries of control, how the work will be evaluated, what will change in general, and what are the risks.
Two critical factors in successfully overcoming the "resistance":
- Conduct training: vendor and internal. Make sure the employees really understand everything and are ready to start working. Crucial training attributes are printed and electronic manuals and full documentation for the system (provided by a vendor).
- Look for supporters and select influencers. Internal experts and early adopters are those who'll help both to educate and dispel doubts. As a rule, employees are pleased to help their colleagues, introduce them to new software.
What should you pay attention to:
- How advanced are the employees who'll be affected by the change?
- How severely will work processes be affected? (One thing is to change the corporate messenger for 100 people, and another one is to change the billing system, for example)
- Was the training provided, and at what level?
Plan for “painless” implementation
You may have not all the above, but there must be a plan. Moreover, the plan should be updatable, clear, inevitable, accessible for discussion, and transparent for all stakeholders.
The plan must necessarily reflect the requirements of employees who will be the end-users: so each employee will know which particular desired feature they will be able to use.
Simultaneously, the transition or implementation plan is not some kind of unchangeable monolith. It's necessary to leave the possibility of finalizing the plan and changing its attributes.
What should be in the plan:
- Transition milestones: what needs to be done.
- Detailed transition points for each stage: how it should be done.
- Key points and reports on them (hours): how to measure what is done and who should be at the control point.
- Responsible people: those who you can contact and ask.
- Timing: the beginning and end of each stage and the entire process as a whole.
- Affected processes: what changes will occur in the business processes, what you need to change along with the implementation/transition.
- Final evaluation: a set of indicators, metrics, or even subjective assessments to evaluate the implementation/transition.
- The start of operation: the exact time when the whole company will join the updated automated process and will work in the new system.
Implementation of new software is not a one-day revolution but a gradual process.
To get everything done successfully, the core thing you should think about first are the employees (who are the end-users in our case):
- Think about who will be affected by the implementation, choose the most painless strategy of implementation.
- Plan it thoroughly.
- Don't forget to conduct training.
If you are just about to develop a software product, you’re welcome to contact us for a free consultation!