The decision to implement a new software system in a large organisation does not come about lightly. There will have been meetings, scopings, costings, data analysis, presentations, more meetings, the list goes on. When the decision is made to press ahead with a system change the impact is felt companywide – it will be costly and it’s guaranteed to be time-consuming. The potential for delays are limitless. Then you have to train a workforce to use the new system and have software personnel onsite to make sure it transitions smoothly. Bearing this is mind, why would anyone go through this nightmarish and painful process? Simple, because humans are optimists and they plan for success, not failure.
Planning for success is the only way forward but reality is never usually kind to the best plans. Execution of what can seem the simplest of programmes, can quickly encounter the smallest problems that escalate into the gravest of issues.
Finance and accounting enterprises and departments are particularly sensitive to software implementations, and with them being the focus of our expertise at Holden Jones’, we asked a few clients what they had learnt from undertaking a similar project – from these conversations we complied the most important elements to consider when planning a software upgrade.
Time & Cost – be realistic and set a time and cost budget that is not only based on fact, but also allows for natural overruns, either in time, economically or both. The biggest killer of a well-intentioned software implementation is poor planning and no two elements of an organisation are affected more than time and cost.
Manage Expectations – telling the CEO that a huge software implementation project will be finished in a few short months is not only unrealistic, it will highlight naivety. Planning for delays and budget expansions, and incorporating them into the initial project estimate is the only way to successfully manage expectations. The fewer surprises, the happy everyone will be.
Inclusion – get every employee involved. A software upgrade or implementation will affect everyone in the organisation. Make sure the entire company is aware of the programme and include them – whether that is in the decision making process (what system would be best for them), an analysis of your current software, or an active part in the implementation – the more people feel included in a large roll-out, the better buy-in you will have, the less surprised they will be (no one likes surprises), and the smoother the project will run.
So, let’s assume you’ve gone through the pleasure and pain of your software installation and now you ask yourself: was it worth it? Have you made your business and employees more efficient? Have the disruptions, meetings, time dedicated to decision making, time spent with sales reps, employing outside consultants, staff training, ongoing training, cost been worth while?
At Holden Jones we speak to CEOs, FDs, MDs and the like on a daily basis and not one has ever reported that they have had a smooth and successful system implementation (it’s not possible!), but that never stopped them from pressing ahead. There will always be pleasure and pain in any software installation/upgrade, but with sensible planning the pain will be minimised and the pleasure will come in the form of years of efficiencies.