The implementation of new business technology, such as ERP or business management software, should be exciting for everyone involved. However, you may hit a few bumps in the road regardless of positive intentions and motives. Thankfully, there are certain approaches and measures you can use to help make things go a little smoother.
Not only can these effective strategies shield you and your team from any setup headaches, but they might also save you a great deal of money as a result.
Below, we’ll delve into the range of tactics and techniques that businesses can use to achieve good planning ahead of software implementation and reap further rewards down the line. Let’s get started…
1. Sign-Off from Stakeholders
Of all the business software implementation challenges you might be faced with, disrupting the status quo could well be one of the biggest. For some, change can be a difficult concept to grasp, especially if certain processes and technology are what they’ve been used to over the years. Staff and stakeholders alike might meet the news of new technology with raised eyebrows, but it may be down to a lack of understanding on their part.
Clearly, you’ll need to do what you can to win over any sceptics. Luckily, it’s hard to argue with hard facts and figures. If you can show how the new system can lead to improvements in efficiency, productivity and revenue, then you’re off to a good start.
Of course, there are bound to be people within the business that are delighted at the prospect of new systems allowing for better processes. Whether staff are frustrated with the functionality of the current system, or stakeholders believe it could be holding the business back from its future goals – amplifying their voices and providing a chance to explain the benefits of a new system can work in your favour to help move things forward.
You can also help your case by involving them in the selection and planning process from the start, maximising transparency around the prospective technological changes from the very earliest stages. This will allow them to better understand how the software will help and support their roles (in the case of your team) and how it, ultimately, helps to get the business closer to its objectives (in the case of stakeholders).
2. Legacy system issues
Familiarity with legacy systems can bring with it resistance to change under the remit of “that’s the way we’ve always done things”. Those more familiar with legacy systems might be less likely to embrace the integration of new technology and push it away because it could change the way things have always been done – even if it’s for the better.
First and foremost, it’s vital that you check whether your existing systems will integrate with the new technology you wish to implement. Integration is not something you can look at as an afterthought since it can be a hefty expense if you take this liberty. However, REST APIs have improved the cost-effectiveness of integration, meaning this is far less of a worry.
So, what can you do? A review of the setup of your current business systems is a good starting point. Doing so will let you identify how it will grow or develop down the line; it will also help to highlight any current platforms you may have no further use for.
Likewise, if you propose to make any changes to the functions within the businesses, how will these changes impact the use of certain applications?
If you’re concerned that legacy system issues could pose a problem to the deployment of new software, it’s well worth seeking the independent advice of a software vendor. You may find upgrading to more modern software an easier, and more cost-effective, route to take.
3. Misalignment with business needs
Implementing new business technology just because you feel like you should could doom the process from the start. Rather than simply following the flock, it’s important to firstly look at how the new business software might meet the needs of your business.
What matters most is that you implement the right system or technology that aligns with the needs of your employees and your customers. If you choose to implement new technology that isn’t designed for the size or scale of your business, then you’re likely to run into some issues.
Do you require a new and updated business management software system to cope with the financial demands of the business? Would ERP software provide your business with the support it needs? And how might it disrupt, alter or transform present ways of working?
Ensure you’ve conducted all the necessary research into the various business software or technology options available. Only through extensive research will you be able to choose which software is worth implementing. Don’t forget to consider future growth in your choice – the system should be built on modern technology and have scope for extension as you grow closer to meeting business ambitions.
Make it clear to everybody why you’re bringing in the new technology. Keep them up to date with plenty of information from the outset and over the course of the project. Not only does this remind your team you have their best interests in mind, but it will also help them to become advocates across the business – something that can help strengthen buy-in with others even further.
4. Resource and budget restriction
Not allocating enough budget and resources to implementing a new business management system can cause untold issues further down the line. It’s advisable, therefore, to plan and outline the total cost of your new business system implementation, including any post-implementation, training and hardware requirements you might need. This spend should always be linked with your business’ overall vision.
Anyone involved in the process of releasing funds for the software in question will want to know how much money is needed, along with prospective ROI in the short and long term. Similarly, your staff will want to know their involvement in your implementation.
When it comes to resources, plenty of suitably qualified staff will be essential, as will the allocation of time needed to manage, support and update the incoming technology. Remember, your personnel will have their own jobs and duties to attend to in addition to the implementation project, so this is something to bear in mind to ensure as smooth an onboarding process as possible.
5. Disruption during implementation
Downtime and business continuity can also stand in the way of software implementation. With proper planning and resource allocation, however, disruptions can be minimal.
There is no ideal time for undertaking big technology projects, such as an ERP implementation. While the financial year-end is usually favoured, a month-end implementation could suffice.
The availability of resources to carry out key tasks such as data cleansing, training, user acceptance and testing can play a major part in choosing when to go-live on a new system. Busier periods like annual holidays and busy seasonal periods must all be taken into consideration to ensure the key people involved are free to take part in the project.
6. Training up your team
The level of planning that goes into the roll-out of a new system is critical and directly proportional to its success. Training key personnel up on your new business technology is essential and should be taking place from the very outset of your software implementation.
Once a test version of your new software is available from your vendor, relevant key users must take every opportunity to iron out any discrepancies early on. To help your staff easily adapt to the new system, ensure every user is able to execute their tasks effortlessly, and without a degree in business software.
Pre-go-live training is the basic requirement, the cost of which will be included in your initial investment. In our experience, businesses who also invest in on-the-job training (or an optimisation phase) when the system is live generate returns from their new business system much quicker.
Enjoyed this guide? You’ll find more help and advice related to onboarding new business technology on the Intact blog. If you’re ready to get started with future-fit software that can truly elevate your business, take a look at our solutions or get in touch today.