Many of us have had experience of changing one of the major IT software systems in our business. This is usually a costly process and often driven by a need make our information systems do more for us – to contribute more to our businesses.
However the experience is often very different – usually requiring significant investment but also often resulting in reduced productivity. In short it is incredibly costly rather than adding value. And it usually creates a lot of frustration. So what can we do to make major IT projects work for us?
No new IT system is going to be successful unless it has been properly specified. And this does not mean simply specifying the most suitable package on the market. It means writing a clear specification for what that software will do for you, how it should fit your existing company workflows (or how your workflows need to change to fit it). Only once you have done this can you be sure you are making the right decision.
Senior Management / Board buy-in
A major company wide project is very unlikely to be a success without senior management (or Director level in an SME) support. This does not mean simply having their approval – it means for them to absolutely believe in the goal of the project, to understand how it will have a positive impact on the business and to see that it will help them achieve their business goals.
Once your project is up and running it is crucial that it is properly managed. Having a professional project manager in place will ensure that your objectives are met and will help ensure costs are controlled and training is delivered.
Your staff will not be able to use a new piece of software without training – no matter how IT savvy they are. It might be tempting to sit them in front of some web based training, or to read an operator manual but this is unlikely to work. It should be training designed around how you intend the software to be used in your business if it is to be effective.
No matter how well you plan for your new software you can be certain that there will still be some resistance to its adoption simply because many people do not like change. You can help counter this by appointing ‘champions’ – people who are highly motivated to adopt the new software and who are trained as ‘super users’. They can then be tasked to assist other staff get the most from the new system.
It is highly unlikely that everything will work perfectly with your IT new system from day one. In fact it will need constant tweaks and improvements throughout its life cycle as your business changes and as new features are released in the software (this is often a constant evolution in cloud applications). One person cannot hope to capture this by themselves. A great way to ensure you software continues to deliver effective is to form user groups within your business and representing all major departments. Regular meetings will help you define new ways to work and get the best from your systems.
If introducing new software is an issue for your business it may be a symptom of an incomplete or lack of good IT strategy. If you would like to know what to do about it, try registering for one of our Discovery Workshops.