10 Steps to Prepare for Software Implementation

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The time has finally come. The hype around a new software solution is too good to be true—or is it? We often see clients rush headfirst into new software solutions without proper planning to achieve success.

Software implementations are hard work, so here are 10 ways to prepare:

  1. Start cleaning your data. Data can be the Achilles’ heel in an implementation. It’s never too early to make data correct and consistent. Consider updating customer/supplier addresses, contact information, part numbers and other data, as well as using a consistent format and style (uppercase versus lowercase, numerals, etc.). 
  2. Define the system requirements. The more clarity there is around “nice to haves” versus “can’t live withouts” in regard to system requirements, the easier it is to rate potential software solutions. 
  3. Define the outputs to determine the inputs. Take time to reflect on the desired end product. What decisions should be made from the system’s captured data? What reports, key performance indicators and dashboards should be available? 
  4. Use a metric. Inevitably the salesperson will show you the software solution’s flashy whistles and bells. While not entirely bad, those aren’t system priorities. Use the requirements to create a metric. Do this early in the process to compare and evaluate systems. Weight the requirements by importance and stick to it. Apply consistent scoring across the process so you can identify the most effective solution.
  5. Eat the elephant one bite at a time. It’s becoming more common, as well as encouraged by some software vendors, to implement the software in phases. For example, consider addressing accounting first. Then implement projects, customer relationship management or corporate performance management. The requirements should help you determine the mandatory phase one functionality. 
  6. Involve the appropriate people. A true enterprise resource planning solution connects operations and finance end to end. The team selecting and implementing the software should represent both aspects. If necessary, backfill roles to help ensure the right people are on the team.
  7. Ensure supportive tone at the top. Does leadership support the new software implementation? If the answer is “No,” the chance of success is slim. Leadership support and sponsorship are key factors to adoption and the on-time/on-budget success. 
  8. Choose your partner wisely. Software implementations can fail from selecting the wrong partner as much as from selecting the wrong product. Look for a partner who knows the software and your industry and also fits your organization’s culture. Choose the vendor who can be a teammate and trusted advisor.
  9. Prepare for change management. Technology is improving, and the time to implement systems has greatly decreased—but people are people. Change can be challenging. Consider how to manage the change. Good communication is key.  
  10. Understand that it’s hard, yet rewarding, work. Software implementations are hard work. They’re also worth the time and effort when educated business decisions can be made in a timely manner.

Our trusted technology advisors can help provide better visibility into all stages of your software implementation process. To learn how we can help you implement technologies that digitally transform your business and improve how you operate and deliver value to customers, reach out to your BKD Trusted Advisor or use the Contact Us form below.

This article is adapted from “Avoiding Failure: 10 Tips to Build a Foundation for Software Selection & Implementation,” originally published in the September/October 2019 issue of CFMA Building Profits.
 

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