A Roadmap to Successful Software Implementation
Author: Christina Phillips
No matter the size of a software implementation, it represents significant change for organizations and individuals. Specific industry requirements and practices further affect complexity and highlight the need for customization. Organizational stress is increased in the transportation industry with fleet management requirements, procurement lifecycles, multisystem integrations and payroll intricacies. As a result, risk management and a smooth transition are top of mind for any business implementing new software.
Project management methodologies reduce stress by handling the process, change and associated risks of software implementation. Engaging a professional project management team helps keep the budget and timeline on track, which lowers organizational stress. A well-constructed project plan reflects the tasks, responsibilities and timeline so team members understand expectations regarding workload and accountability. In the plan-development process, organizational constraints and transportation industry specifics are considered to achieve realistic deadlines with the allocated resources.
Project management is best approached via collaborative planning. Team members build ownership and intimate understanding of the project, which serves to mitigate stress regarding perceived unknowns. Time spent documenting requirements and designing the implementation path at the project’s start pays for itself by reducing and actively managing associated risks. The foundation of sound planning and collaboration must include discussion of the data to be collected, integration with other systems and reporting. However, once this foundation is laid, diligence must continue through to the testing activities to help ensure the system’s design meets the needs of its frequent users.
BKD’s branded implementation methodology outlines project management best practices, communication expectations and key accountability metrics for both BKD and client personnel. Open and clear communication helps ensure resources are focused to provide clients with the best possible deliverable. Particular emphasis is placed on the project initiation and definition phase regarding client requirements and needs. These activities lay out the map for the implementation and are used to build out the design and testing activities. For example, transportation companies often have multiple, industry-specific solutions for fleet and fuel management that require integration with the ERP solution.
These integration requirements are critical to the design of the complete software solution. We find that the more time and focus placed on these initial activities by both BKD and the client—coupled with a high level of team commitment during the testing phase—the fewer high-risk challenges are encountered during go live. The bulk of the work (and potential stress) of a project should occur before the actual live event. BKD’s goal is to make going live anticlimactic.
Users should be prepared to handle the day to day of their job with BKD only reacting to any exceptions that may arise. The entire OnTrack methodology serves to highlight a united effort in software implementation while making sure business-specific and industry-relevant best practices are achieved.
Contact your BKD advisor for more information.