Budget reviews have come and gone, and your allocation to implement that new software solution is still in the budget. You didn’t get a blank check, but you can see you’re going to make headway this year! Now it is time to get more serious about making the plan.
You know the reasons why you need a new package –
- You’ve outgrown the old system – the architecture is aging and the demands of our mobile workforce are too difficult to meet with it.
- Acquisitions are in the pipeline that will challenge your ability to support complex business rules and force you to provide support of multiple systems –that do the “same thing” in different regions.
- Executives are looking for a decrease in their operating budgets.
- A very important and pervasive software package is being discontinued, and support will decrease while support costs increase.
- You need new requirements implemented quickly, not an average nine-month implementation cycle, and your backlog just continues to grow!
Even though the reasons are clear, the way forward is murky. Your team, your management, your company, and even you! – All have their biases:
- Build or buy?
- Host internally or pay for SaaS?
- Engineer replacement as is, or improve your business processes?
Your team will make the decisions with the best interest of your business at hand. As an IT professional you know a big change is coming that will not only drive change but also emotion. Isn’t the emotional side of change an expensive and problematic facet of a software implementation? How can you decrease the drama while speeding implementation and results?
Eliminate rework: start with the process – both old and new
Legacy replacement projects require that you evolve process AND migrate data. Understanding the old process is really important, no matter if you are going with boxed software or customized software. When you compare the new processes to the existing processes and the underlying data, you can map data and process changes. Be sure to involve SMEs. Then, respond to project indicators:
- Confirm that the proposed solution appropriately supports required business processes, but contain creep –begin your backlog tracking if necessary
- Respond to issues revealed by orphaned data or processes – eliminate obsolete data and contain costs while reducing your time-to-implement
Start your communication strategy by clarifying the resulting project changes and plan for software enhancements if needed. You will be able to inform your business stakeholders and the end-users in advance ensuring support for your project– both objective and emotional.
Reducing the drama
If you’re really decreasing a large operating budget by 10% to 50%, the changes impact those many or more employees. There is a LOT of emotion in 50% of your workforce. It can work for you. It can work against you. Don’t just turn on the system and run. Ease the transition by scaling implementations so that you can respond to issues with rapid improvements and corrections.
And don’t forget the training. Make sure that you provide effective training: training that coincides with the use of the system, both in content and timing! It is an educated employee that understands how to meet its organization’s objectives. Communication and education are imperative to managing culture change.
How will your decisions be measured?
Technology programs start with business objectives and end with different ways of meeting that objective. Is your success measured by ability to meet objectives? Partially. Deep change, in the order of magnitude of 50%, is also remembered emotionally. Staff perception of the changes to their jobs and their ability to do their work makes or breaks a program. There is nothing like elevator talk to taint a program or bring the success of the program to the attention of management!