Once your organization has evaluated and selected a new technology solution best suited to your needs, as covered in a previous blog post, it’s essential to develop a documented strategy and plan for both implementation and ongoing use. Mapping out your steps will help you better adhere to your timeline and track your KPIs to determine if your team is achieving the desired results. Here are five elements to consider when building your plan:
1. Determine personnel
Identify who in your organization will be using the software when creating your plan. Who needs to be trained on the technology, and who is going to lead the training? Who will be responsible for staying abreast of any software updates and ensuring they are appropriately communicated? As implementation will likely be a coordinated effort across several departments, the training shouldn’t fall solely on IT. Considering the size of your business, establish an implementation leader or committee to fully understand the software and its capabilities. You may also want to consider hiring a consulting agency or onboarding a temporary contractor to execute the implementation depending on the size and capacity of your internal team. Consider budget, workload, future responsibilities and importance of solution to your organization.
2. Build project management calendar
To successfully roll out a product by your desired date, you should adhere to a timeline as closely as possible. Depending on the size of your organization, this might mean utilizing Excel to create a calendar or applying a more robust project management tool. When building your calendar, include time for user training and testing as well as padding for unforeseen technical or user issues. Your calendar should be flexible enough to accommodate complications while being tight enough to keep your staff focused on the end goal: rolling out your solution.
3. Consider seasonality and other projects
Approach your implementation plan with seasonality in mind. The implementation, training and testing process can take months. Analyze a full year’s timeline for your industry and your specific business. For example, if you own a retail establishment, begin the evaluation process with plenty of time before the holiday season to successfully implement and test the technology. Also consider other key initiatives for your business to ensure the team has sufficient time to focus on learning the new technology.
4. Test solution
As mentioned previously, application issues and quirks are likely to arise as you begin to use your application. Comprehensive testing and working within your application before roll-out is key. Rely on your implementation leaders to compile any problems or obstacles your users are facing, report their findings to the application support team and determine and execute solutions. Establish a process for individuals to report any errors they run into along the way.
5. Determine KPIs for future evaluation
It can be easy to move on to new projects once you’ve successfully implemented a new solution, but it’s important to evaluate and re-evaluate the solution to ensure it is working the way you intended. Determine any key performance indicators to track before you roll out your product and identify the consistency and timing of any reporting. Depending on the solution you implemented, these quantifiable metrics may include ROI, users, conversion rates, profit margin, operating costs, manufacturing time and more.
It can be exciting to begin using a new technology solution, and while your team may be eager to jump right in, creating an implementation plan before roll-out is key for long-term success. Rely on the plan, understand that adjusting and pivoting may be necessary and most importantly, hold both the team leaders and solution providers accountable. This last point is the most crucial and will be the reason why and how well a solution succeeds.