Managing a Successful Software Implementation
At Lucidity, we are on a continual quest to improve the implementation experience for our customers. The success rate of our software is something that sets us apart from our competition.
The points below highlight the successful implementation.
1. One size does NOT fit all
Experience shows there is a balance between a one-size-fits-all implementation, and one tailored in detail to a customer's requirements.
I used to think I could force the one-size-fits-all model to work - after all, I'm the expert here! On the one hand there is what the client wants in an implementation, but the customer is paying me for my experience and guidance?
Balancing expectations with experience is the job of the Implementation Plan.
2. Discarding the Implementation Plan (don't do it)!
An Implementation Plan serves two main purposes. First, it provides a clear pathway for the project. This includes stepping out the order of events and where the responsibilities lie. Second, it provides a timeline for the implementation and a go-live date.
Deciding a go-live date is super important, but sometimes tricky. A customer may have a specific goal in mind that provides an obvious deadline. This might be a compliance audit, or the start of a new project. Other customers set their own goals, like "we want to go paperless by the end of the year".
Whether the deadline is internal or external, it provides a date to work back from. Without a specific goal in mind the timeline needs more consultation. Don't overlook this though, as without one you have a rudderless ship.
3. Who's running this show (or many cooks don’t have to spoil the stew)
The best product launches involve a team of champions from across the organisation. Input from a broad range of employees from the outset means less chance of missing agendas, and a wide-reaching Implementation Team is crucial.
The downside of this though is that each area will have their own goals and priorities. Managing conflicting goals and priorities is a big part of my job.
Together with the Implementation Team, the other critical role is the Project Manager who has the deciding voice. The Project Manager has ultimate responsibility for decision making and provides one sign-off point. This helps to avoid costly and frustrating double-ups or changes.
4. Changes (or when to draw the line)
This is the most challenging part of any implementation. When is 'enough enough'? Where is the line between implementation, customisation and chargeable product changes? Also, where is the line between necessary changes, and fear of launching?
The best solution I've come up with so far was from a lovely lady who teaches corset making (yes, you read that right)! Her other talent lies in designing bespoke wedding dresses. I was curious how she actually made a livable wage from this. In my past life I used to sew. I never did manage to stick to the number of fittings and alterations that I'd planned for. I never knew when to say ‘enough is enough’ . As such, there was very little profit made, and I was never a particularly successful seamstress!
Her answer was actually quite simple - a Change Request Sheet. This is where she documents her client’s requested changes. The client then signs off on this Change Sheet before alterations begin.
Back to software, and this process transfers particularly well.
Each implementation includes a specific (generally two) number of Change Request Sheets. We document this in the Implementation Plan.
Sign-off of the last Change Sheet highlights agreement to the final set of amendments. This agreement is an important step for both parties as it sets out the final stepping stones to launch.
After sign-off of the Change Request Sheet, the work is 'packaged' into one Epic. It's allocated to one sprint, and completed as one job lot.
And then, we launch ...