A lot of companies are losing huge sums of money each year due to mistakes in their software implementation plan.
What does that mean? It means that you don’t have to lose anything — if you devote the time to planning.
Unfortunately, several instances of this fatal mistake have come up in the past — one example being ASOS. The fashion brand revealed that an issue with the warehouse management system that they have been using had cost them over 25 million dollars.
The software led to mistakes in the inventory data, which led to counting errors, and some items were not included in the packages sent to clients.
And unfortunately, that ball keeps rolling downhill.
It doesn’t matter what size your company is; without an effective software implementation, you’re gonna face challenges. Even the best-in-class software available on the internet can fail if they are not properly tested and evaluated before use. And to test software, you need to use trusted software implementation processes that successful companies use.
But let’s take a half-step back.
What Is a software implementation plan?
A software implementation plan is a plan that helps companies evaluate and find the right software according to their business needs.
Using new software in your company might be a little intimidating at first due to the cost involved in the process and all the human resources it will affect if things don’t turn out right. A software implementation plan can prevent these mistakes and keep you from a costly payout.
An implementation plan also helps you avoid any hasty decisions and ensure that reliable people are involved in the implementation process.
You’ll get a chance to configure all the systems correctly according to the software and make an environment where employees can truly appreciate the software and reap its benefits.
What is software implementation
Software implementation is a process by which companies adopt and integrate a new software application into their system and workflows. It can be a small attendance software or a project management software to be integrated into the company’s workflow. And at some instances, companies need to include major software like resource planning software or any supply chain software, and they need to follow software implementation steps to ensure that it fits into the company’s system.
You’ll also need software implementation when upgrading or updating your software according to the latest standard.
Software implementation can be a very difficult and time-sucking task, but it makes sure your company is productive and profitable in the long run.
Why is it important to have an effective software implementation plan?
Software implementation is no doubt a difficult (and risky) process.
In the last few years, more and more companies have seen issues integrating new software primarily because they did not make an effective software implementation plan.
Companies spend tons of money acquiring new software for themselves — but that’s only step one. You need to put energy toward integrating that software into your company’s workflow.
A half-baked process can lead to a failed system and huge losses.
Many companies take shortcuts in their planning stage, which can seriously affect their system and day-to-day work. A rushed software implementation process will slow down your company’s pace and will cause unprecedented problems down the road.
Start planning ahead to make the software implementation process smoother, so everyone’s on the same page and able to reap the same benefits.
You should also pay attention to the software implementation and make a project plan for software implementation — because it can cost you a portion of your annual revenue. Productivity and collaboration slip and employees who don’t understand the software tend to develop some inaccurate or inefficient workarounds, making huge dents in your company's workflow.
Security breaches and data loss are also common with improper software implementation. This can lead to major financial damages, and cause a major dip in your reputation.
An extensive software implementation plan can prevent security vulnerabilities and loss in revenue and clients' trust due to data breaches.
But only if you do it right!
Elements of a good software implementation plan
There are some key items that one needs to include in their software implementation plan to make it successful. That includes:
Planning is the longest and most crucial phase of a software implementation plan. In this phase, you must set expectations and find your project champions and detractors. After this, the discovery process starts, and you put a proper workflow into motion.
A software implementation officer should develop and outline an initial plan, then present to stakeholders. They also estimate the total time required to complete the project and set goals for the team.
Software implementation is a process that requires everyone from the company to cooperate. But be prepared to run into two types of people in your company as you plan software implementation: Champions and Detractors.
Champions get on board with the project and see the value of the new tool. And on the other side of the ring, detractors are against any changes to the existing system and do their best to avoid any new initiatives.
Companies need to identify these groups in their software implementation processes. And work with both of them — detractors are your secret weapon to understanding how to strengthen your process and properly incorporate the tool. Ask yourself (and detractors):
- What problems do we need to solve?
- What friction might you run into?
- Is there something we haven’t thought about?
- How will this tool make our lives easier?
- What do we need to do to turn everyone into a champion?
Data migration is another crucial element of the software implementation plan. In this phase, you’ll need to decide what data you want to keep from your old software and export that data to the latest software. Some of the rules of data migration are:
- If you don’t want to have old data in your system, stop migration right away.
- Back up the data somewhere else on the internet to ensure that you have the data when required.
- Verify each and every data that you export with the data owners.
- Always have a rollback plan in place in case the data migration has some issues.
- Once the backup is done, start the migration process.
Before integrating the software to the company, you need to train your team.
This will ensure that they know how the software works and how to use it beneficially.
Host or record training sessions to demo the product, then develop training materials like work instructions or step-by-step guides to reaffirm what everyone learns.
Scribe top tip: Use Scribe’s process doc generator to create fast and easy SOPs with screenshots on texts of every step you took on the new software.
Use training workflows, outline a training schedule and develop the right materials.
Steps to build a successful software implementation plan
After you have chosen the software and team, it's time to start building a workflow to make your software implementation plan run smoothly. No matter who you work with — an IT team or any third party — your main goal is to drive ROI for that software.
Plan ahead of time to:
- Minimize the risk of loss by finding and preventing issues.
- Turn detractors into champions by getting feedback.
- Build your training program.
These steps lay the groundwork for you to easily install the software into your system. Here’s how to do it:
1. Prepare a detailed implementation roadmap
Prepare a full-fledged project outline that looks at both the big picture and smaller steps.
It’ll help you manage and plan every step for execution to prevent issues, along with any last-minute confusion, panic or missed deadlines.
Your roadmap should be a digital document that you can reference later (we recommend digital so you can easily update as needed — but make sure you have a system for organizing and pointing out updates). It needs:
- The title description and the cost of the software.
- The goal and advantages of the software.
- The general timeline and important milestones.
- Notes, tools and steps for any prep work.
- Training sessions and materials you need to create.
2. Assign a team leader to manage the software implementation process.
Communication is key here — both to your project team and the company as a whole. Appoint a team leader to keep everyone on track, run meetings and collect deliverables.
For a job this important, you need someone you can trust. Look for an SME or people manager who is a tool and team management expert. If your business is large, you might ask a few different leaders to serve different roles.
3. Test the software on your company’s system
Don’t launch before you’re ready! First test the tool to make sure it’s compatible with your system and teams. Ask yourself:
- Does it integrate smoothly?
- Is there real data on how it can improve your processes?
- Do we need to make adjustments to fit this in?
- Are there special features we need employees to be aware of?
The more tests you run, the more you’ll find to help you launch, build, and check system bugs. Though testing will take some extra time, it’ll protect your system against malfunctioning. If your system isn’t compatible with the new software, it can harm the functioning and features of your system.
4. Create an effective Onboarding And Training Process
Many people think formulating and implementing the new software is just a technical process, but it’s not.
Forming the most effective and productive team is just as important as technical work. Without a proper team and trained workers, you won’t be able to come up with a successful implementation.
So, prepare your team and onboard the members who are trained and compatible. You can also recruit productive members and later train them with effective resources.
Your training program must include certain factors, like:
- An overview of essential functions of the software.
- How the software works with other tools.
- Updated features’ training (this should happen whenever those updates do).
- The software’s workflow.
- The training schedule for each department and team.
- What software or tools will help you train and onboard this new system.
- Product tours, step-by-step flows, knowledge of updates, onboarding task checklist and tooltips.
5. Integrate The New Software In Your Workflow
Now that you’re all done with testing and onboarding, it’s time to launch and incorporate your software.
While installing new software, you may need to shut down the existing one, or integrate as needed.
Announce when this is happening and warn employees how it can impact their work. Try to make changes when as few employees are affected as possible.
You simply need to seek out internal experts for the improved adoption of digital features and ask them to show you how to navigate the updated software. This way, the excitement among the people will be continued, and thus, they will work more efficiently.
6. Ask For Feedback
To make your software implementation plan successful, you need to ensure that your employees are comfortable while using the software. Keep in mind, there might be some bugs, glitches and other issues.
To detect these, you need to have a good feedback process. The feedback collected from the employees will help you identify the issues faced by everyone and minimize them using a troubleshooting process.
You can collect feedback from your employees by a simple email survey. Furthermore, you should ask about the issues from employees department-wise so that you can identify the specific problems faced by each department. Ask about how they feel about the software and do they face any issues while using it. Have an open line of communication during the software implementation process.
This will help you understand the issue quickly, and you do not have to wait for employees to submit their email feedback forms. You can use automation software to collect and organize data to detect repetitive complaints.
After this, you can just go ahead and fix the bugs and make the software more accessible for everyone.
How can automation solutions make tech adoption faster And easier?
A lot of companies have now been using automation software to enhance their efficiency. These tools can make a software implementation plan easier to follow.
Furthermore, it can also cut down on human labor and increase company productivity. Nowadays, machines have also learned to make logical decisions, and during software implementation plans, they can help prevent the wrong usage of the software by detecting any anomaly.
You can also use software like Scribe to create an extensive training plan. Scribe is a step-by-step guide generator that documents your work for you.
Do you have an internal champion or rep who knows your tool like the back of their hand? They can just go through a process once, and Scribe will create written instructions in seconds.
Each Scribe auto-generates annotated screenshots and editable text for every step your SME takes. Here’s one in action (that only took 30 seconds to make)!
Launch a stronger, faster software implementation plan.
Software implementation is crucial for every company. But to do it right, you need a software implementation plan.
Strong training and automation software can help you take your plan from the Page, to the process.
Use these steps and tips to create an effective software implementation that changes the game for your company.