When investing in stakeholder engagement software it’s important to put some time and consideration into implementation. Optimizing the initial set-up in order to account for how users and the software interact will help assure a more effective outcome for your project.
So, what are the key factors impacting the successful implementation of stakeholder engagement software for both the people using it, as well as for the system setup?
Every team member involved needs to understand the role they play in the setup and ongoing use of a new software system. This includes both staff and consultants. Developing a detailed plan that includes user roles and responsibilities is important. As well, transparency about the desired outcomes should be communicated in order to generate genuine motivation, participation and adoption.
- Create a plan: All plans surrounding the business case, user buy-in, system ownership, information management protocols, configuration strategies, database administrator skills, deployment, training and maintenance need to be specific. Generic plans adopted from other projects or systems won’t address the unique policies and practices of a new system.
- Assemble a team: Members from different departments will be affected, so ensure that all departments involved are on the same track and clear about the reason for the stakeholder engagement software, the goals of its use, the value it brings and the overall usage expectations (even to consider whether to outsource data entry and database maintenance and administration).
- Think long term: Plans should be drafted and reviewed on a regular, scheduled basis. Assign roles to address specific challenges as they arise, and empower system users to identify and deal with problems. People don’t naturally like change, so formal change management policies need to be implemented. Remember that the ultimate success of a system is only as good as the work done upfront to ensure its success.
Since no two stakeholder engagement software systems are identical, stakeholder engagement software implementation will be different company to company, and project to project. Targets, stakeholders and expectations may be similar, but never exact. Business needs will also need to be amended over the life span of a project.
- Have a solid plan for user groups and permission settings: Deploying stakeholder engagement software requires the implementation of a structure/system that will become vital to regulating user access control.
- Ensure quality data is preserved: Incorrect data, or data that has not been updated recently, imported into your new system is a big problem. It’s much easier to have a system of finding, collating, correcting and ensuring that the data from the multitude of internal sources needs a strictly standardized data format in place.
- Monitoring and adjusting: Over the lifespan of your project, make adjustments and improvements to your system over time, and adjust design and configurations when necessary. Create ways to measure or monitor adherence by attaching measurements to your objectives through the use of key performance indicators.
Pitfalls to Avoid
Challenges are likely to arise with the set up of any new business tool, but organizations can mitigate the risk of failure by understanding the pitfalls. Many companies face difficulties when deploying stakeholder engagement and management programs because they fail to plan ahead, or don’t define the company’s goals.
- Rushing for a solution: Make sure the reasons for implementing a system addresses the right problem, and that the solution selected aligns with the company’s objectives and strategies. Choosing the right software for the right reasons is the first step towards best practices adherence.
- Over-customization of the software: Using a stakeholder engagement software system without identifying the configuration that best suits your company will increase challenges and poor outcomes.
- Auto pilot – Not driving your project home: Even the most strategic vision for a stakeholder engagement software system deployment will fail if the plan is neglected. Review the company’s strategies periodically to assess effectiveness. Revise strategic plans as needed.
The long-term results of proper implementation include obvious benefits such as better data quality and integrity, more organized records for quick reference and access, enhanced security and privacy, and a system that truly supports the work of the company employing it.
In addition, other less-obvious benefits include a confident and empowered stakeholder engagement team, the ability to track and manage stakeholder communications, and ultimately better relationships with the stakeholders themselves, who will feel that the information they are contributing is being treated with careful consideration.