Implementing a new software platform can be a daunting task for even the most prepared companies and those that have previously implemented new solutions. As teams use multiple platforms and an increasing number of software integrations, a successful implementation requires perfect alignment between vendor and client.
A successful software implementation also requires:
- identifying the right project managers and stakeholders within your organization to carry out the plan.
- constant communication and training with employees about what is happening and how software implementation will affect job duties.
- proper auditing to ensure implementation is on time, within budget, and in compliance with expectations.
If any one of these steps falls short, the timetable and budget for the implementation may increase, placing pressure on your bottom line and leading to frustration among employees who use the software.
Here are four essential steps to a successful software implementation, from planning stages to review and optimization.
1. Set clear goals for implementation.
Understanding why the company is implementing a new platform, how it will happen, and when the implementation is expected to start and finish requires communication among everyone in an organization.
This begins with eliminating silos between departments and engaging in honest and frequent communication with all stakeholders about their biggest challenges with existing software platforms, how a new package will alleviate these issues, establishing a clear mindset on business objectives, and agreeing what to prioritize with an implementation.
If everyone has a thorough understanding of how a new software platform integrates across an organization, the whole team will have a better understanding of how a software platform will improve their everyday business, as well as the overall objective behind the plan, and what they intend to fix within the organization.
2. Define a clear implementation plan with vendors.
As soon as an organization decides to explore software packages to improve their operations, team leaders should contact vendor partners about the types of platforms they wish to implement, when the implementation will begin, the cost of launching a new software platform, and any external forces that may affect the timetable for implementation, such as regulatory factors.
At MatrixCare, we often work with clients starting several months before they begin implementation of the new software package. During this process, we talk with the client team and stakeholders to determine the best course of action and ensure everyone involved is in full alignment.
Choosing the software and choosing the implementation plan go hand in hand, and advanced planning goes a long way to save time and prevent roadblocks during the implementation itself.
3. Identify project managers and “super users.”
Organizations should identify project managers and “super users”—employees who excel at using the software and teaching others—as primary stakeholders of a software implementation. These are usually the key leaders across various departments.
Oftentimes, we see companies leaning on their IT teams to drive the implementation. But in most cases, a better course is also to identify those key individuals on the team who have solid working relationships with other leaders to ensure that everyone is collaborating and on the same page.
These stakeholders are also essential in change management, ensuring that all affected staff are aware of upcoming changes to software platforms, and are key in the ongoing governance plan. This builds confidence and excitement for the change, and this momentum can be a strong positive force for moving the implementation forward.
4. Optimize early and consistently.
Optimizing a new software platform should begin early—even as an organization is working through its implementation. This can involve conducting routine reviews of software usage and configuration, identifying key metrics, and making sure employees have training on the tools at their disposal.
MatrixCare works with clients to optimize their new software platforms throughout the implementation process. This gives clients a better understanding of the key performance indicators they are seeking through this implementation, helps them with the tools, trains them on what is available to identify future changes and efficiencies, and ensures software updates are installed as they become available.
We typically recommend, at the very least, annual optimizations. But with super users in place, optimization can be reviewed as frequently as quarterly to ensure your organization is up to date on the functions and goals that a new software platform can support.
Regardless of your organization’s size and the number of stakeholders involved, taking a planned approach to implementation can make all the difference between a software rollout that meets expectations and one that exceeds them.