You’ve got a new project to sink your teeth into — implementing a new software, as part of your company’s digital transformation initiative.
With your entire team, and the company’s revenue lying on your shoulders; a situation like this can be daunting.
So, what do you do?
The first order of business is to acknowledge that new software comes with a host of problems.
From technical glitches to employee training on technology, there’s a lot you need to take into account while planning implementation. But this isn’t enough. You need to be organized while doing it.
That’s where an IT implementation plan comes in.
It helps you make a smooth and seamless transition from age-old legacy solutions to new systems that boost operational efficiency and ROI.
If you’re wondering how to go about creating an IT implementation plan, we’re going to break it down for you in this article.
What is an IT implementation plan?
The goal behind creating an implementation plan is to execute a project in a quick and seamless manner.
Without the fuss. In essence, you can call it a project management document that helps with implementation of new systems, solutions and procedures in any organization.
IT implementation plans are non-negotiable, mainly because they help simplify the mammoth task of introducing a new software into business operations.
Generally, these plans involve breaking down the project into small chunks to make them more manageable.
This is followed by defining timelines and allocating teams and resources required for successful execution.
Start your IT implementation by outlining how to execute the project at hand. Identify all the steps involved; from training to deployment.
You can follow this up by communicating the idea to your team, so everyone is on the same page.
Apart from execution planning, these documents are also responsible for mapping out the roles and responsibilities of everyone involved.
This is why they are instrumental in ensuring successful deployment of any technology.
Although many confuse implementation plans with strategic plans, the concepts are not interchangeable.
A strategic plan describes the strategy to achieve an objective. On the flip side, an implementation plan breaks the strategy down into smaller, achievable tasks.
Whether you’re creating or adopting a new software, implementation plans should be your go-to strategy.
Without it, there are much higher chances of bottlenecks, technical errors, missed deadlines and overblown budgets.
Benefits of an IT implementation plan
Executing a task without proper planning is like trying to run a marathon with a blindfold on.
You’re going to lose your way, which means reaching the end point is practically impossible.
Without a plan to guide you, rest assured you’re bound to hit roadblock with no idea on how to handle them.
These could include resource or budget constraints, technical issues or miscommunication.
An implementation plan gives you a tiny peek into these problems right from the get-go.
Here are a few other reasons why you shouldn’t forgo creating an IT implementation plan.
A clear scope of work
Noting down your ideas for your implementation strategy on paper or even as a digital note will give you a lot more clarity on which direction you should take.
This gives you a better understanding of your objectives and the steps needed to achieve them.
Developing a cohesive vision for your IT implementation can help you communicate with your teams and senior management better.
They will be able to learn more about your vision, helping them open up to the project and its implications.
It also educates everyone involved on their roles and what’s expected from them.
When people are aware of the part they have to play in the project, they’ll be able to work with a focused approach, ultimately leading to higher levels of efficiency and business productivity.
And to top it all off, they won’t have to waste time and energy on searching for information, as every single detail will be reflected in the plan you present.
Transparency for all stakeholders
Transparency builds trust among co-workers. It’s a given. And having an implementation strategy helps achieve the transparency needed to create a team that works collaboratively.
Considering trust building is the key point to remember here, your goal should be to gain stakeholder trust through any means possible.
This is where an IT implementation plan helps. With it, everyone involved in the daily functioning of the company will learn and understand your plan.
Along with the benefits and risks associated with it, of course. This in turn, will boost their productivity and give them a morale boost.
An important key to building an implementation plan is to ensure accountability.
If there's no accountability, your team will not report their progress or feel accountable for the work they do.
This leads to longer timelines and poor quality.
When there’s an implementation plan in place, there’s a clear document stating what parts of the projects are assigned to whom, and with what timelines.
This keeps all team members accountable for the work they’ve been assigned to.
In cases where work is not done on time, you can give out a warning or send an e-mail to follow up on the required tasks.
When you have all the details jotted down in your implementation plan, you will be able to communicate your idea with your team in a more efficient way.
This makes it easier for them to collaborate on the project, understanding what their roles are and the level of cooperation needed to get work done.
Having an implementation plan will let your team members know how their work will influence the work of their team members.
To achieve success, collaboration is the key. When interdepartmental teams collaborate, they can achieve objectives faster and more easily.
Implementation plans are instrumental in making this happen.
Steps to creating an IT implementation plan
The success of any project lies in its planning and execution. A project must be completed on the deadline set by you at the beginning of the project, so make sure it’s an achievable one.
Next thing to think about is budgeting and allocation of resources. By all probability, you’ll get a fixed budget without much wiggle room.
Take this into account while planning your resources.
Finishing your project before the deadline and within the allocated budget is the hallmark to IT implementation success.
This is because delaying a project or overspending can lead to severe losses.
IT implementation plans can prevent all this from happening, turning the process into a smooth and seamless one that everyone can enjoy.
Wondering how to create a plan of your own? Let’s show you how.
Identify goals & objectives
The first step while creating your implementation plan is to set an objective.
Think about what you want to achieve with this project. In other words, what’s the outcome you hope to achieve?
Having a clear objective in mind will help you flesh out your strategy and execution plan. Ask yourself questions like:
- What do you want to achieve with this project?
- Who is your target audience?
- What deliverables do you want to produce with this?
Don’t forget to get buy-in from stakeholders and team members. Getting their opinions and ideas will make them feel more involved in the process and give them the morale boost needed to make them work harder.
In the process, you’ll also get better at prioritizing your project and sticking to set timelines.
At the very beginning of your project, make it a point to assess risk.
Doing this in the early stages will help you truly understand what you’re against in the market.
Double down on resources
After you have set goals and objectives, you must plan the resources you will require.
These may include money, personnel, software, equipment or other technical materials.
Allocating resources is an important part of developing an implementation plan.
The first thing to do is to map out a plan and list down the tasks needed to achieve the goal.
For this, you can divide your objectives into smaller tasks and see what resources will be required to complete each task.
Assign a team leader for each task and ask them to handpick a team. You should look at the skills you require for a project while assigning a team leader.
Share your objectives with them so they can pick a team that’s most suited to their values and caliber.
Assign roles and responsibilities to each of them.
Once you’ve hired resources, it’s time to train them.
The best way to do so would be to keep all the information on a platform which anybody can access.
For example, you can use a platform like Scribe to create and store in-depth tutorials on how to perform a particular task.
Scribe is a step-by-step guide generator that writes your SOPs for you. Just turn on the extension, do your process and watch Scribe work its magic. In seconds, the tool creates written instructions — complete with annotated screenshots.
Here's a Scribe in action.
This will help them learn in a visual way, making it not just faster — but so much easier.
Next step is to figure out what resources you’ll need for the project and how it can be managed within the budget.
After making the teams and outlining your deliverables, figure out the resources and equipment it will require and check if it fits your budget.
Choose a project management tool
Choosing a project management tool will make your work easier. With so many resources and stakeholders to manage, it can be difficult to do it all by yourself.
A project management tool helps neatly organize everything so you know exactly where to look. Better than rooting through a bunch of old male, isn’t it?
Project management tools are also surprisingly good at helping people manage resources effectively, and tools also help you get metrics and data immediately.
A project management tool has scheduling features, team management tools and more.
Some popular project management tools you can choose are:
Trello is a popular project management software which has built-in tools that can help your team collaborate with each other. It is simple to use. This tool can help your workforce by creating lists and tasks and staying organized.
Users can collaborate and share files as well as leave comments. This tool is perfect for small teams and individuals working together. The basic plan for Trello is free to use but there are paid plans that provide support for automation and integrations.
Asana is a versatile project management platform that focuses on collaboration. It has a lot of features for productivity and collaboration. There are several task displays that allow custom fields and forms. You are even free to invite as many guests as you want.
Asana can be used for all-sized enterprises. There is a free plan for up to 15 users. They also have a premium package that includes timelines, reports, custom fields, automation rules, and other features.
Zoho Projects is a popular Zoho service that allows organizations to keep track of projects, communicate, monitor bugs, and run reports. It also has a suite of communication tools like real-time chat and forum pages.
Zoho projects come with free basic features for limited users. It also has different paid features like issue tracking, resource tracking, and budgeting.
Project management tools help with project planning. It provides automation to project planning and scheduling. They also help you keep track of your resources and budgets, as well as improve team collaboration. This helps you to organize your work and stick to your deadline.
Choose performance metrics
Choosing proper performance metrics is imperative. They help you track your progress, your strengths as well as your weaknesses. Using data analytics, you should be able to figure out how your software will help your customers and keep monitoring it even after the product is finished.
Here are some types of performance metrics you can choose:
- Measuring the key performance indicators (KPI) is important for your organization. KPIs can monitor the health of your company and reveal what you need to work on. KPI shows whether or not a company is accomplishing its goals. It can be your revenue, gross margin, location count, personnel count, customer happiness, product quality, or employee productivity.
- Objective and key results (OKRs) is a goal-setting process that teams and individuals use to establish tough, ambitious objectives with quantifiable outcomes. OKRs are used to measure progress, promote alignment, and encourage participation. Goal setting is known to boost participation.
- Management by objectives (MBO) is a process in which the organization's goals are set and communicated to its members by the managers with the idea of achieving each target. Monitoring and evaluating each employee's performance and development are important here.
Never forget to have an implementation plan
An implementation plan is not just a formal document. It is the backbone upon which your entire project stands.
Without a proper plan, your entire project can fall apart, resulting in a massive loss for the company. Always remember: you can’t implement and forget about it.
It’s important to continuously monitor the deployment process to identify possible threats and guarantee speedy resolution of technical issues.
Analyze how well the implementation is performing, and if the results aren’t satisfactory, you can regroup to discuss the next plan of action. Once implementation is done, you can train employees on how to use the new software by recording and creating guides using Scribe.