Too many companies suffer substantial financial losses running in billions annually from poor software implementations. But these losses could be largely prevented with better planning.
Regardless of your company's size, software implementation is a daunting task. Achieving success relies on a well-structured strategy with a detailed roadmap leading to user acceptance and adoption.
How can you effectively ensure that the implementation aligns with your business objectives during the evaluation and selection phases?
At CyberMedics, we've created the ultimate guide on mastering your software implementation process so you can have a successful launch of your software project.
Ready? Let's go.
Table of Content
What is a Software Implementation Plan
The primary objective of a software implementation process plan is to enhance the quality, speed, and efficiency of software delivery. This, in turn, enables your team to access the right information at the right moment, ultimately fostering a successful launch.
Among the various phases in the software project life cycle, planning is one of the most pivotal. During this phase, project managers meticulously gather comprehensive details pertaining to the upcoming project and incorporate them into the project schedule.
The resulting document, which emerges as the ultimate outcome of the planning phase, undergoes approval before any work commences. It subsequently assumes the role of the paramount and dependable source of information regarding the impending project.
Why You Need a Software Implementation Plan
At CyberMedics, every custom application development project starts with an ironclad software implementation plan. This outlines the exact steps, tools, and stakeholders required to get a software project from ideation to implementation.
Here's why we take the time to do it, and why you should too:
Get Everyone on the Same Page: A good plan clears up any confusion by making sure everyone knows what the goals are, from the coders to the boardroom.
Dodge Roadblocks: By spotting problems early on, you can steer clear of last-minute hiccups that could derail your project and cost you a fortune.
Smart Use of Time and Money: Knowing who does what and when means you won’t waste time or overspend, keeping your project on track and within budget.
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work: A solid plan helps different departments work together smoothly. That way, your techies and your marketing folks are all rowing in the same direction.
Quality You Can Count On: Laying out quality goals from the start makes sure you don’t end up with a product that falls short of what you or your users expected.
What makes a Good Software Implementation Plan?
The project schedule serves as a comprehensive record that accomplishes several key objectives:
Why: To elucidate the rationale behind the need for funding and clarify the problem that the project intends to address or resolve.
What: It outlines the specific actions and steps required to attain the project's objectives and goals and helps you assess the project status from time to time.
Who: Most project schedules identify the key individuals and stakeholders who will participate in the project and elucidate their respective roles and responsibilities.
When: Establishing a clear timeline and pinpointing the anticipated completion dates for major project milestones helps implementation happen quickly.
11 Steps to a Successful Software Implementation Plan
Step 1: Find the most suitable software vendor
The software vendor plays a pivotal role in your deployment plan, and the success of your software hinges significantly, about 95%, on the extent and quality of the implementation. Vendor reliability encompasses more than just the reputation of the software development company.
How long has the vendor been in business? What do their customers have to say about them?
Does the new software integrate with the systems you already have in place? Does the vendor provide software training?
Step 2: Conduct a needs assessment
Ask the right questions to identify the problem and understand the needs of the users.
What is the core issue that this software system aims to address, and what are the existing system's characteristics?
Who are the intended users of the new software system, and what are their anticipated requirements and hopes for its functionality?
You might need to carry out value stream mapping to analyze the existing software systems, business processes, and workflows to spot their limitations and decide on the requirements for the new system. You can also hold Kaizen sessions with your team to identify gaps, inefficiencies, or areas needing continuous improvement.
This will help you gather information that will help to guide your software investment.
Step 3: Clearly define your objectives
Once you find the problem, clearly define your goals and objectives.
When defining objectives for your software implementation plan, asking the right questions to ensure they align with the SMART criteria is essential.
What is the precise goal or outcome we want to achieve with this software implementation? Who is the target audience or user group for this software?
What quantifiable metrics or key performance indicators (KPIs) can we use to track progress? Is the objective realistic and attainable within the given timeframe?
How does this objective align with the broader goals and needs of our organization or project? Is the timeframe reasonable and practical, given the scope and complexity of the objective?
Objective: To develop a custom Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software solution specifically designed to streamline financial reporting and inventory management processes for Fortune 500 companies within the next 12 months.
This objective meets the SMART criteria. It is:
Specific: because it clearly defines the software's purpose (ERP for financial reporting and inventory management) and its target audience (Fortune 500 companies).
Measurable: The success of this objective can be measured by evaluating whether the custom ERP software effectively streamlines financial reporting and inventory management for Fortune 500 companies within the specified timeframe.
Achievable: Assuming that the company has the necessary expertise and resources in ERP software development, this objective is achievable within 12 months.
Relevant: The objective aligns with the needs of Fortune 500 companies, as efficient financial reporting and inventory management are critical for large-scale organizations.
Time-bound: The objective has a specific timeframe of 12 months, providing a clear deadline for completion.
Establishing precise objectives aligns your software implementation project team and stakeholders toward a common purpose, a crucial factor in achieving a successful software implementation.
Step 4: Assemble a team
Identify key stakeholders and form a cross-functional implementation team responsible for overseeing the software implementation process.
Your team should encompass representatives from various departments by having sub-teams like a tech support team, human resources, and software implementation team
It's essential that each team member fully understands their roles and responsibilities.
Step 5: Select the appropriate software
Drawing from your needs assessment, research and evaluate potential new software options.
Ask questions like, is the software scalable and user-friendly? Also, take into account factors such as customization capabilities and integration potential.
Come up with a solution that effectively addresses your organization's unique needs and requirements.
Additionally, involve your team in the decision-making process to secure their buy-in and support.
Step 6: Draw a comprehensive timeline
Construct a project plan that delineates each phase of the implementation process.
Dissect the project into smaller tasks and assign specific deadlines to each one.
Employ best practices in project management to ensure the timeline is both realistic and accommodating, allowing ample time for training, testing, and troubleshooting.
Step 7: Allocate Resources and Manage Implementation Costs
Determine the resource allocation based on the implementation cost, encompassing personnel, budget, and equipment.
Ensure that you have an adequate resource pool to sustain the project throughout its lifecycle and exercise prudent management to prevent budget overruns.
Step 8: Develop a communication plan
Poor communication is one of the leading culprits for why software projects fail. Effective communication is the linchpin of a successful implementation.
You can get weekly or bi-weekly status updates, immediate milestone notifications, or on-demand issue reports through scheduled meetings or in real time to focus on project progress, challenges, resource needs, achievements, and change requests.
Ensure that communication channels remain clear and that team members are well-versed in how and when to provide updates or seek assistance. It's best to use email for routine updates, meetings for discussions, collaboration tools for day-to-day communication, and project management software for task management and document storage.
This streamlined approach ensures efficient communication and project success.
Step 9: Plan for training and support (Your Software Implementation Training Plan)
Your team will require training and continuous support to facilitate a smooth transition to the new software.
A comprehensive training plan will cover all pertinent aspects of the software, tailored to the specific needs of different user groups.
Additionally, provide ongoing support systems to address queries, troubleshoot issues, and provide ongoing assistance.
Step 10: Test and resolve issues
Prior to the software's full deployment, engage in rigorous testing to unearth and rectify any glitches. This testing phase may encompass unit testing, integration testing, and user acceptance testing (UAT).
Rectify any identified bugs and make necessary adjustments to optimize the software's performance.
The user acceptance milestone is critical, signifying the system's readiness for organization-wide rollout.
Final Step: Rollout and monitor
With testing concluded, proceed to roll out the new software across the entire organization in accordance with your established timeline.
Vigilantly monitor the implementation software, study the user adoption rate, solicit user feedback, and effectuate any required refinements to maximize software usage.
Maintain ongoing support and routinely assess the software's performance to ensure it continues to align with your organization's evolving needs.
Remember These Tips for Successful Software Implementation
What makes a party terrific?
Guests remain until the end.
Ongoing conversations and inquiries about the next gathering.
Minimal cleanup and mess.
So, what makes a software implementation terrific?
Users remain engaged throughout - User Satisfaction
Subsequent discussions and queries regarding future implementations - User Feedback
Minimal post-implementation complications and cleanup - Seamless Software Adoption
How Long Does Software Implementation Take?
So, with all these processes in place, what's the typical duration for implementing custom-built software? There isn't a one-size-fits-all answer because the timeline hinges on factors such as the size of the entire company, the complexity of the system, the number of desired modules, available resources, deployment locations, and the software's type.
For example, on average, implementing an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system can take anywhere from a few months to a few years. Still, the average timeline for an ERP implementation is typically between 6 months to 2 years. Small and medium-sized businesses usually implement ERP systems within 3-9 months, while large businesses may take longer.
In summary, the time it takes to implement software can vary significantly depending on the specific circumstances and requirements of the project.
Common Software Implementation Mistakes
Your software implementation plans can vary widely, from simple updates to existing software to major transitions like migrating from Microsoft Office to Google Workspace or even complex overhauls of business-critical systems such as a new CRM.
However, this path can be fraught with challenges. Forbes reported on two studies last year, revealing that 95% of product innovation projects ended in failure, and only 30% of digital transformation projects succeeded in enhancing performance.
To better prepare your business for a successful software implementation that won't disrupt or negatively impact operations, it's crucial to:
Choosing incompatible software: In the tech world, not everything is compatible with everything else. Hence, tech professionals become frustrated when their code doesn't run correctly or at all
Solution - Before committing to implementing any software, ensure the various components are fully compatible. Even better, seek an IT platform like CyberMedics that offers flexibility to adapt to your specific needs.
Budget mismanagement: could be overestimating budget requirements and placing your business under financial strain or underestimating costs, leading to shortcuts and eventual failure.
Solution - If you perceive your plan as financially overwhelming, prioritize tasks and commence with the topmost priorities. Incremental enhancements can be integrated over time, provided you're ready to commence. If costs were inadvertently miscalculated or economical options were chosen, extend the testing phase and craft a contingency plan, anticipating potential shortfalls.
Ineffective change management: Knowledge of the intricate workings of change management can save you time and money. Successful implementation of any software system constitutes a substantial organizational change.
Solution - Elevate its significance as a pivotal transformation to facilitate a smoother process.
Unrealistic planning: they seldom transmute into miracles; more often, they falter. Hewlett Packard endeavor to consolidate North American divisions into a singular ERP system, which eventually led to a staggering $160 million loss, serves as an illustrative example.
Solution - Don't fragment your small business across numerous new IT systems to mitigate the risk of surpassing your budget and exhausting resources.
Software Training Program Best Practices
Once your new software receives the green light, it's time to gear up for the comprehensive rollout. By this stage, you've garnered internal endorsement from both top leadership and department heads. However, extending buy-in throughout the entire organization is your next task.
Although your implementation team members may have been aware of the impending shift, preparing them for the actual transition might prove more intricate than initially anticipated.
This challenge might be amplified within teams less accustomed to technology. To facilitate a smoother shift, consider the following steps.
Embrace the change
A cultural and organizational transformation accompanies every adoption. Employees must grasp the broader context and understand the underlying business motivations.
Enlighten them about how the technology can serve their individual needs and contribute to the overall business objectives. Cultivate early buy-in through tools such as leadership endorsements, mailers, events, videos, and surveys.
Remember, while the decision to acquire the system stems from leadership, the actual success of its adoption hinges on end-users.
Provide the training at the right time
While software is becoming increasingly intuitive and user-friendly, users today are digitally immersed. Tech-savvy, the success of your software implementation still heavily relies on the right training program.
Start with a clear, comprehensive training plan and strategy backed by leadership support from the outset. Employ a structured, meticulously designed approach to the training.
Ensure training modalities offer the opportunity to observe system demonstrations and provide ample practice scenarios. Tracking practice modes can yield insightful analytics on aspects that users find clear and those where they face challenges, directing efforts toward areas needing improvement.
The forgetting curve suggests that users forget 90% of what they learn within a month, so timing your training is critical. Conducting training too far in advance is likely to result in knowledge loss.
Allocate sufficient time
Training can easily become a tedious task due to the array of new concepts to absorb and busy work schedules. Therefore, plan and allocate an appropriate amount of time.
Scheduling sessions during peak work hours can result in inattentive trainees. Similarly, scheduling training just before or after the system launch places undue pressure on users to quickly master the system.
Ensure availability and accessibility
Employees often seek assistance from champions, colleagues, or managers or refer to the system's help section. This loss of collective productive time can lead to delays and increased costs, contradicting the purpose of technology, which is to streamline processes.
In-app training or just-in-time interventions with microlearning modules are effective solutions. Keep training contextual and specific, tailored to roles or functions. Focused modules with clearly defined learning objectives make it easy for users to access the necessary training.
Effective training programs are not one-time interventions. Knowledge tends to fade over time without reinforcement. To ensure long-term retention, incorporate ongoing training at regular intervals.
Employ strategies such as meetings with subject matter experts or process champions, tests, videos, mailers, Q&A sessions, and follow-up sessions. When paced correctly, these methods can effectively reiterate and reinforce information.
Software Tools for Implementing and Planning
In today's competitive business landscape, small enterprises can compete effectively with larger counterparts by leveraging the power of software tools.
With the right project management tool and customization, teams can unite, enhance productivity, and make software implementation a seamless and rewarding experience.
Project management tools for software implementation
Here are a few tools any project manager can use to streamline the software implementation process:
1. SmartSheet: SmartSheet is a cloud-based platform that facilitates real-time collaboration and project management. It offers a variety of templates and tools for creating, tracking, and reporting on your software implementation plan.
2. Microsoft Power Apps: Microsoft Power Apps is a low-code application development platform that empowers businesses to create custom software applications without extensive coding. While it's not a traditional project management tool like the others listed, it can streamline the implementation process for the new system.
3. Trello: Trello is a user-friendly project management tool that employs a visual, card-based system to organize and manage tasks. Its simplicity and flexibility make it a standout option among project management solutions.
A Successful Example of New Software Implementation - Case Study
CyberMedics played a crucial role in revitalizing Security 101's struggling internal software development team.
What was the problem?
Security 101, after partnering with a private equity firm, faced significant challenges in modernizing its software development processes to align with its new business model. Their in-house software development team was struggling with outdated processes, resulting in missed deadlines and inadequate updates.
How did CyberMedics help?
Holistic Approach: CyberMedics took a comprehensive approach to tackle the problem. We started by thoroughly understanding the existing challenges within the team.
Designing a New Development System: We introduced a new software development system incorporating lean principles. This overhaul aimed to address the issues hindering progress.
Talent Acquisition: We also helped Security 101 in talent acquisition to bolster the team's capabilities. They provided job descriptions and conducted interviews to bring in skilled personnel.
Embracing Lean Practices: By encouraging the implementation teams to adopt lean practices through Kaizen events, the implementation of a Jira-based product development process, and coaching on the CyberProcess™.
The impact of CyberMedics' interventions was significant. With the new team and CyberProcess™ in place, Security 101 regained the ability to deliver timely updates that supported the company's growth. This partnership showcased the successful transformation of their software development capabilities.
Security 101, which recently partnered with a private equity firm, needed to revamp its business applications to align with its new model. Their in-house team was using outdated processes, causing missed deadlines and inadequate updates.
CyberMedics took a holistic approach, understanding the existing team's issues and designing a new development system with lean principles. They also assisted in talent acquisition, providing job descriptions, and conducting interviews.
To ensure the new team embraced lean practices, CyberMedics led Kaizen events, implemented a Jira-based product development process, and coached them on the CyberProcess™.
The impact was substantial. With the new team and CyberProcess™ in place, Security 101 could deliver updates supporting company growth. The partnership with CyberMedics continued for new projects, showcasing the success of their software implementation expertise.
Make Software Implementation A Breeze With CyberMedics
In today's fast-paced business environment, the right software can be a game-changer, but its success hinges on meticulous planning and execution.
A well-structured software implementation plan, backed by expert guidance from partners like CyberMedics, is your key to aligning new software with business objectives and achieving unparalleled success.
Don't leave your software implementation to chance. Let's drive efficiency, innovation, and growth together.
Reach out to CyberMedics and make your software implementation a resounding success!
What are the four stages of the implementation plan?
The four stages of a software implementation plan include Planning and Exploration to set objectives, Installation for technical setup, Initial to Full Implementation for user testing and feedback, and scaling up to expand the software's use across the organization.
What are the three elements of implementation?
Within the PARIHS framework, three fundamental elements - evidence, context, and facilitation - are interconnected and play crucial roles in ensuring successful implementation.
What are the three methods of implementation?
Three primary approaches are commonly employed in software implementation: phased implementation, direct changeover, and parallel running. In the phased implementation, changes are made in stages to specific parts of the overall system. This approach allows for the containment of any issues that may arise, ensuring they have a limited and non-critical impact.
How do I create a successful software implementation plan?
To successfully implement any software plan, ensure you define precise objectives, gather a cross-functional team, evaluate requirements, select suitable software, create a thorough implementation timeline, allocate necessary resources, engage in effective communication, offer comprehensive training and support, conduct rigorous testing and troubleshooting, and closely monitor the rollout process.
What is a software implementation plan?
A software implementation plan is a comprehensive strategy that outlines the steps and procedures for planning, managing, and controlling the release of software applications. It is a roadmap used when you have selected a capable development team to execute your software project and implement new software, regardless of its scope and complexity.