A few years ago, the IT advisory and research firm the Standish Group, found that only 29% of IT project implementations are successful. And according to Bloor Research’s 2018 white paper, only 16% of data migration projects are completed on-time and on-budget.
Why do over 70-percent of software implementation projects fail, and what can your company do to make sure you’re successful?
Data suggests that human resistance is a key part of the problem. Employees are resistant to change, and often general managers and executives remain hands-off when it comes to big IT projects.
The right project manager is key-someone who embraces change and can amp up others and help them feel excited about department-wide improvements. But the right software is also critical.
When switching softwares, decision-makers must consider the new software’s usability. If you choose a software that’s not intuitive and easy to use, your employees are going to be frustrated with the learning curve. They’re not going to embrace the change, and they’ll continue to use the old software or find a work-around, delaying or even sabotaging the success of the entire IT project. The most comprehensive software, with the most amazing capability, is worthless if people refuse to use it.
At BankTEL, we know a lot about successful software implementation. We guide our customers through new implementation or else migration to the latest version of our Fl accounting solution, ASCEND, every day. We wanted to share some of what we’ve learned in over two decades in the business, to help your company successfully implement new software.
1. Thoroughly vet the new software.
Does it integrate with your other softwares? Does it have a high percentage of market share? Do you know others in your industry who use it? Would they recommend it? Is it user-friendly?
2. Outline clear project goals.
What do you want from this software? Often BankTEL clients want to be able to stop filing hard copies of accounts payable records and instead, keep these records in a secure, cloud-based manner that is accessible via a tiered permissions system. They want to save time by allowing employees and auditors to do their own research, rather than waiting on record retrieval. They want accounting records that are more searchable, more available, and more thorough, in order to provide an easy, compliant audit trail. Make a list of goals and a specific timeline for your implementation, where you outline what it will take to meet each goal, and when you expect to have done so. It may be helpful to break these goals down into week or biweekly mini-goals.
3. Identify what data needs to be migrated, and take the time to migrate cleanly.
No one wants to lose days of work, but there’s also no point in cluttering a new system with unnecessary data. An accounts payable data migration is a great way to clean up your vendors and cull old or duplicate accounts. Even if the software company is willing to migrate your data for you (and they should be! BankTEL works from a text version of your general ledger), you want to go in and check your records thoroughly. Run a few tests and make sure everything is solid. Take time now, to save time and frustration later.
4. Understand who needs what functions first.
Data shows that an Agile approach to a new project is much more successful than a Waterfall approach. What does this mean? An Agile approach means time and budget are fixed, but the scope is flexible. Waterfall is when time and scope are fixed, but the budget is flexible. You may not be able to switch all of your employees to a new system at once, so figure out who needs what access and permissions to get the ball rolling, and concentrate on making sure those employees are on-board. Down the line, once you’ve met your initial project goal, you can start phase two-adding users and applications and maybe growing your engagement with your new software through implementing new modules. And then, you can revise your project budget to accommodate growth.
5. Have an enthusiastic project manager.
This is so important! It is your project manager’s job to make sure that staff is excited about a new software-that they understand how it’s going to make their lives easier, even if they have to learn a new skill at the outset. Your project manager needs to have a contagious confidence in the project and
be able to communicate the IT project’s objectives to the affected employees. It’s helpful to have an internal project manager, as well as an external project manager, from the software company itself, to help with the initial transition.
6. Support your employees through the transition.
But don’t procrastinate or tolerate employee procrastination. Once a software is purchased, start using it right away, so that implementation doesn’t take on looming, intimidating proportions. Make learning sessions mandatory for employees, and if necessary, block access to old software so that they are forced to use the new software. Of course, if the new software is intuitive and user-friendly, using it shouldn’t feel painful, and employees won’t feel as if they are learning something “by force.” In addition to training sessions, provide training materials that employees can reference later, and make sure they can get in touch with someone knowledgable when they inevitably run into issues. It’s critical to have a good support team, both internally and on the software manufacturer’s end, to patiently guide tentative employees. (This is why BankTEL puts so much effort into our customer service and tech support. Fast, capable tech support is one of the primary reasons our clients are so satisfied with ASCEND.)
7. Choose a software company that does the work for you.
BankTEL’s customers rave about the smooth migration to ASCEND and the software’s user-friendliness. Most clients don’t lose a single workday during implementation, and we provide each client with a BankTEL-based project manager and either in-person training or interactive training via Web-X. When clients call for support, they generally speak directly with a tech, with no lengthy hold time or wait for a call back. BankTEL makes a specialized software to serve a specific client, but no matter your industry or need, the basic principles of successful software implementation are the same – choose the right software and (here comes the part that’s underestimated)-do whatever it takes to get your team and employees on-board!