My colleagues have been telling me for years “Write a blog”, or at least “Give me a break and write a blog entry”. My response, “Blah Blog”. I think they figured since I had so much to say, and passionately so, that I should vent via electronic means. The educational/professional side of me wanted to go look up ‘How to Blog’ or ‘Blogging for Non-Bloggers’- but instead of going that route – I’m going with my gut. My first blog is about implementations and specifically how to ensure a successful implementation with any software. What do I know about this topic you ask? I’ve been facilitating or overseeing implementations for an online software product for 7 years. Prior to that I worked with a company that developed software for several different industries, from the Recording Industry Association of America to the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. In all of these industries and more, from small projects to multi-million dollar initiatives – there are common principles that guarantee success. And if you’re missing the first one – you’re success just got reduced by a significant percentage. But maybe you’re the person on the ground floor who is trying to convince your boss that you need a system/tool in place to make you and the company more successful. Then use #1 below as your first goal. But to reach that goal you have to have clear and measureable objectives. More about those in my next blog. Here’s our top 10 tips to ensure success of your next implementation.
1. Executive leadership and commitment. If the decision isn’t coming from the top down, or you don’t have executive buy in – the chance of pulling the plug is greater. If you don’t start with this, make sure you get buy in quickly. Give them what they want – numbers and reports. Proove that the tool is helping them achieve a return on their investment.
2. Set clear implementation adoption goals by module,milestone or phase as appropriate for your particular type of project and assign a reasonable timeline for each to be implemented with your Professional Service Manager (PSM).
3. Do some basic data gathering. Whatever tool or system that you’re going to start using – there’s bound to be data or information to put in it. Here’s an example of a standard list for homebuilders. Typically gathering this information means getting it into electronic format. Excel is your friend – and if it’s not, find a friend that is a friend of Excel.
• Have a list of projects (sub-divisions) that you build in,
• Have a list of lots you will build on in those projects,
• Do you have a list of Plan names or numbers that you build?
• Do you have a list of options you offer?
• Have a list of Trade Partners (Vendors & Subcontractors)
4. Take all the complimentary on line classes as soon as you can. Your familiarity with the system will lead to a quicker implementation, potentially saving you money and will speed up getting the return on investment of using the system. Finding a tool that has free online/on demand classes is a plus/plus. Also look for a tool that has a great help system that is easy to navigate or has a good search tool. Especially if they don’t have a FREE 800 number. BTW, this is one thing I am so proud of BuildTopia for having; an online help system, free on demand classes and an actual person that answers our 800 number. Hey, I get to toot our own horn – this is my blog!
5. Schedule weekly implementation progress meetings with your PSM to review any uploaded data, steps needed to complete current goal, as well as what may be needed (data) for the next goal. Keep things moving forward! This may be a 15 minute meeting, but it keeps everyone accountable to touching base and confessing to what did or didn’t get done. ACCOUNTABILITY!
6. When asked for data, provide what you have to your Professional Services Manager (PSM) in a timely fashion on a template if provided, or in whatever form you have the data available in. Don’t delay submitting data, as this slows momentum for your implementation. Often times this is a BIG momentum killer. This is one of my biggest pet peeves of our customers. Often times you or someone in the company is already wearing the janitor, secretary and human resource hat ON TOP OF the job description that you got hired for. So when you bring on a new tool to help you make things better – there is a considerable amount of setup if you are making the tool your own and not using out of the box software. Let the resources that the software has help you – it only makes you realize your return on investment faster. Ask them, how fast can you get this done? Take into account your salary * the time it’s going to take you to get it done. Usually something will take you longer because of 2 reasons, 1. You haven’t done it before 2. You’re trying to do two/three things at once. The answer is in the numbers. Example: Let’s say you’re the owner, making $95k a year, about $45/hr. If a task takes you 3 hours to do, you’ve just spent 3 hours doing something that someone else could have gotten done in 1 hour and not getting something else done that no one else in your company can do. So for $150 someone else could have gotten it done in 1 hour and you could have gotten 3 things done that no one else could do. I’m just saying…
7. Don’t wait for your data to be perfect before submitting or uploading. Data can always be edited, added, or deleted.
8. Don’t miss scheduled meetings! If you can’t make a scheduled meeting (CALL FIRST), see if you can re-schedule with your PSM for another time during that same week. How do you feel when people don’t make your meetings – time is money. Also, it’s just professional courtesy.
9. Login and use your training account. First, it’s a great advantage of any system to have a duplicate environment to test/play in. You should be logging into your training account on a daily basis, if possible, during implementation not only to review data, but to get familiar with navigating the different modules and becoming familiar with your data and how to work with it. Don’t worry about making mistakes. The point of going into training is to play with the system and learn it. So Play!
10. Know your available resources and use them! You are assigned a Professional Services Manager (PSM) to assist you with YOUR initiatives throughout the implementation. If you have questions about anything pertaining to your implementation, you need to call or email your PSM immediately to get your questions answered to keep your implementation moving forward. If your PSM is not available for some reason, call or email Customer Support. They can typically answer your questions or get you to someone who can. I always tell my customers, don’t spin your wheels for more then 15 minutes – back to my time is money theory as well as “don’t get frustrated”.
Ok, there’s my rant. Might be a tad long winded – like I’ve been told – I’ve got a lot to say. Email me, call me, and let me know what you think. Want more? Should I keep writing these – is anyone reading them? Everyone likes an audience. I’m a bit of a Rock Star fan myself.
contact me: wendi_pannell at buildtopia.com