In part one of this series, we looked at five things to consider when setting out to review and purchase new business management software for your contracting business. Once you’ve settled on a solution, it’s time to put it to work. Implementation of software these days tends to be a much smoother process as technologies improve and less (or no) hardware is needed.
However, as a best practice, you’ll still want to properly prepare for the implantation process with your team and the software’s end users. Less attentive efforts here could create a few new headaches to deal with down the line. Here are the other five key points to consider when implementing:
Avoiding Implementation Frustration
- Understand the process: While implementation of most business software has gotten much easier, it’s still never as simple as flipping the on switch. Correctly installing the software, populating it with your active business data, setting it up workflows and task processes and training the end users are all critical parts to successful implementation. These steps can take some time. Talk to peers and the software provider and research the steps you need to undertake and average time that it will take. Do this and you’ll already be ahead of the game.
- Formulate a game plan: Once you have a good idea of what the implementation process will involve it’s time to make the implementation work for you. Collaborate with the software provider to develop a step-by-step plan for implementation. Make sure the implementation specialists (on both sides) understand your company’s needs and what you hope to accomplish with your software. And map out a reasonable schedule to see this game plan through.
- Keep your team informed: During implementations, systems, processes, and even business can sometimes be disrupted. Let everyone on your team and/or throughout your company know what to expect and when to potentially expect it so that no one is caught off guard.
- Pay careful attention to process documentation: Arguably one of the most tedious and frustrating parts of implementing new software is filling in the details. Once your construction and business data is in your new software system, you have to define what you want done with it and how you want the software to respond. For example, setting up workflow steps or identifying the actions triggered when a request for information (RFI) is entered—setting up these processes and filling in all of the details can sometimes be arduous, but necessary. The more attention you pay to these from the onset, the less chance you’ll find yourself having to fix it later once the software is running and business is relying on it.
- Involve users and train them appropriately: Going back to what we discussed in Part One of this blog, it’s good practice to get your end users involved from the start and know what their needs, wishes, and concerns are. As the software is being implemented—or shortly thereafter—make sure they are properly trained in how to use it to its full potential. Most software companies provide extensive training programs that give your end users all the tools they need and empower them to be leaders in your company.
Getting Everyone on Board
Naturally, whenever there is change, there is be some form of resistance. This tends to ring even truer with technology. After you’ve successfully implemented a new software package, it’s important to revisit how it’s functioning—and how well your users are functioning with it.
Verify that everyone on your team that needs to use the new software is doing so, and doing so correctly. If not, find out why and what can be done to address the situation. As I wrote about here a few months ago in the blog, Achieving Buy-In: Five Tips to getting Construction Professionals to Embrace New Technology, it’s a good idea to prepare for and come up with effective ways to work through resistance.
After all, business software works best when everyone who should be using it, is—and to the software’s full potential.