What are the key factors impacting a successful information software implementation plan? Challenges often arise with the deployment of any new business tool, but you can greatly reduce the risk of software implementation failure by understanding common pitfalls to avoid – and learning how to rescue elements that are headed sideways.
This is how we work at SustaiNet: making sure you get the best advice and a software solution configured specifically for your team from the start – and providing the best advice and hands-on support throughout the lifecycle of your project.
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.
So let’s take a look at why some software implementations fail, and what you can do to both rescue a failed project, and prevent many issues from occurring in the first place. Set-up is so important, but mistakes can also be fixed.
1. Defining objectives, developing the plan.
The efficacy of a system is only as good as the work done upfront to ensure its success. Many companies face difficulties when deploying new stakeholder information management software because they fail to plan ahead or define their business goals. So, make it a priority to plan in detail what expected outcomes are, and how the software can be used to achieve them.
What can go wrong:
- A lack of clear objectives leads to a lack of understanding how your stakeholder information management software can help.
- Vague, unidentified, or non-measurable goals will ultimately provide poor project delivery and performance.
- Ineffective transition from a previous software system can lead to data duplication and user confusion, especially if implementation is rushed and lacks planning.
Create a plan: All plans surrounding the business case, user buy-in, system ownership, information management protocols , terminology use, 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. With properly recognized objectives, users will be able to understand why the software is needed, what it will be used for, how it will be used, by whom, where, and for how long.
2. Change management and user adoption.
User adoption can be affected if you fail to gather and acknowledge input from involved and impacted people or departments within your company. Ensure that all departments involved are on the same track and clear about the reason for the new software, the goals of its use, the value it brings and the overall usage expectations. Otherwise, team members might experience these factors that could affect their engagement level – and have a negative impact on the implementation of a new system.
What can go wrong:
- Important issues or challenges may go unnoticed if those interacting with the system on a daily basis are not given an avenue to provide feedback.
- Lack of defined leadership is a recipe for over-complication and possibly interpersonal conflict around lack of clarity regarding roles and responsibilities.
- Lack of accountability. Not charging someone specific for the overall responsibility of the success of the software solution.
- Users can be confused about the changes taking place and the impact on their jobs; frustrated because they weren’t trained how to use the software properly; and indifferent because they don’t understand the value of a new system or why it’s necessary.
Develop a communication plan for the roll out which involves all the end users. Daily/direct users are the greatest assets to identifying system faults or possible causes for failure, so software users interacting with the data must be made part of the solution. Good communication with staff and consultants who will be working with the stakeholder management system is imperative – so ensure proper training and support is available. As with any change, for your team to be engaged they need to feel they are part of the process and that their feedback is being considered. Assign someone who is sufficiently skilled and knowledgeable in both the domain subject matter and in data management, and who is detail oriented and loves data.
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.
3. Setting up a protocol document.
A well-written protocol document (a.k.a. SOP’s – standard operating procedures), is essential for maintaining the integrity of the stakeholder data being collected. Protocol documentation ensures that all staff and consultants understand and use exactly the same data collection parameters for the purpose of generating consistent reports that meet industry standards and expectations. It sets up your project to comply with industry best practice and/or regulatory requirements right from the onset and is customized to your individual internal business reporting requirements.
What can go wrong:
- Inconsistencies in the collection and entry of data impact your organization’s ability to effectively keep proper records and generate accurate, meaningful reports.
- This can lead to more serious regulatory compliance and reputation management issues.
- Project succession and staff turnover leads to inconsistencies with data collection, data entry and reporting, and lowers productivity.
Protocol documentation helps increase efficiency and mitigate risk by ensuring that all users gather and enter information in a consistent and meaningful way. Establishing a robust, consistent and streamlined process for what data to collect, as well as how your data is collected and entered allows you to create many kinds of reports – without having to go back and re-enter information. This helps ensure stakeholder information is kept up to date and relevant, while continuously improving data usage. It also makes training new employees and contractors easier, improving productivity.
4. Reviewing and updating your software implementation plan.
Needs may change over time during a complex, long-term initiative that has lots of moving parts. To perform well, avoid running on auto-pilot and build an ongoing review of the requirements of your information management software solution, and the people involved. Ongoing information software management is a work in progress, and it’s important to assign responsibility for reviews and updates to a central person or team within your organization.
What can go wrong:
- As needs change, decreasing alignment with company strategies and effectiveness.
- Diminishing value of the new system and wasted resources.
- No longer understanding how to use the software to its maximum potential.
As people, processes and regulatory requirements evolve over the life span of your organization’s consultation and engagement projects, the need for review and amendments to the usage of your software must follow suit. Plans should be revisited and reviewed on a regular, scheduled basis – with a focus on continuous improvement. Assign roles to address specific challenges as they arise and empower system users to identify and deal with problems.
Finally, the benefits gained from deploying an information management software system are largely determined by its application and use. Integration and implementation failures will devalue the system and keep the information from being used to its maximum potential.
However, a well-designed information management software implementation plan includes obvious benefits such as better data quality and integrity, more organized data for quick reference and access, and a system that truly supports the work of the company employing it. In addition, other benefits include a confident and empowered team, the ability to track and manage data, better relationships with the stakeholders themselves, and efficient reporting for the lifespan of your project.
At SustaiNet, we offer full after-sale support. From answering a quick question to coaching and technical support, our customer service team is passionate about supporting our clients so you will be sure to receive a consistent, high quality support experience every time you contact us.