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How to fight the fire
6 ways to achieve a better software implementation experience
Over the years, we have gained quite a substantial amount of experience in IT software implementation. We have met business leaders that have various points of view on the use of IT technology such as ERP systems, CRM systems, Engineering Change Management systems as well as software implementation and software integration in general.
Perhaps you recognize yourself as one who:
- Currently do not have a software management system. You put a system implementation on hold and keep using Word and Excel to store your engineering data until you really have no choice but to upgrade to either an ERP, CRM, or PLM system.
- Currently, use a legacy system. You keep using your legacy system for a few more years and continue making minor fixes here and there to accommodate the changes in your business.
- Go through with a software upgrade despite what you have previously been through during prior IT project implementations.
Software implementation – fear of change
So, the question is obviously why software implementations are known and feared to be so painful for the executive level in manufacturing companies? Among the most commonly called causes are price, time consumption, and fear of the ripple effect into the organization, caused by big changes.
Now, there are examples of software implementations that take more time than expected, which makes the final price rise. There is also a great deal of examples of staff that are resistant to changes in business processes. And finally, new systems seem too complex, which makes the legacy system or the old Excel spreadsheet look like the best option to stick with.
So, the fear of change is completely justified by these aforementioned examples.
How to achieve a better software implementation
Here are some pointers that will allow you to have a smooth implementation and avoid major problems:
- Put together a small internal team to oversee & manage the implementation project. This group should continuously be interacting with all the departments and top management as well. They work hand in hand with the service provider to ensure everything is running smoothly and every need is met.
- Choose the right IT software provider & implementation partner. Many smaller and medium-sized enterprises do not have an in-house IT team. Today, an in-house IT team are often replaced or removed due to the emergence of cloud computing and SaaS offerings. However, you need the right software provider and implementation partner in the start-up phase to act as your trusted IT partner.
Look for the following traits when choosing your partner:
- The necessary IT experience and knowledge
- A solid business understanding.
- Great communication skills.
- A detailed analysis of the different costs upfront.
- Get full support from management. Top management should remain unified in supporting the project. They should continuously encourage and motivate their teams not to give up, including allowance and support of end-user training to get people on board with the new system.
- Make the right IT budget decisions. Management must define the role of IT before any decisions can be made. IT can play a major role in meeting the company’s objectives, which is why the accounting department should fully understand the IT strategy. It is about seeing IT as an investment rather than a cost.
- Introduce staff to new processes and standards BEFORE the implementation. Usually, smaller, and medium-sized businesses have informal, undisciplined types of environments and processes. That often clashes with the procedural rigidity and discipline that PLM software systems bring into the organization. That often sparks user resistance and conflicts. Management must bring in process consistency training and standardized procedures before software implementation even begins. It is all about easing the employees into this new way of working.
- Train your whole team on how to best use the new system. Again, investing in end-user training is of the utmost essence in securing a successful and smooth software implementation experience. If your employees do not know how to use the system the right way, they will begin to resist and your team still will not be working as efficiently as possible. For successful training, begin this process during the implementation and continue after go-live as well.
- Establish goals.
- Have an internal team to assess each user’s needs and training requirements.
- Create a training program and schedule.
- Have the IT consultant from the software provider educate and train the users.
Need more inspiration on how to best manage change processes? Watch this episode on Organizational Change Management: https://youtu.be/Rp70uIhBvYc