So you’ve chosen your MIS solution, and you’re excited about the big impact it’s going to have on your company and your role. The Project Kick-off meeting is coming up soon and…. the worry starts to creep in! How is everyone going to find time to do their day job as well as implement a new core piece of business software? What about all the things that could go wrong? 😱
Well fear not, help is at hand. I recently interviewed the Implementation Specialists on our Customer Success team about their experience with MIS implementations to find out what the most common mistakes were and how they could be avoided. Here’s what they told me…
Avoidable mistake #1 - Not dedicating enough time to prepare for the project
We know it can be a challenge to balance time for your implementation project without it disrupting day-to-day business, but it’s really important to dedicate enough resource to the project. Often people only dedicate the odd hour here and there throughout the week, including the time spent with MIS partners, and this typically leads to the project stalling and taking much longer than it should.
The best way to avoid this is by giving someone in the business time away from their usual responsibilities – maybe half a day every week – to focus on the implementation project. They should book this timeslot into their diary so that everyone knows they’re unavailable during this time. (Or even better – get someone on your Executive Team to book it in this person’s diary, then everyone knows it’s important and can’t be changed.)
It’s more than likely your MIS partner will set you homework to complete between your project sessions, so it’s important that you have someone to complete this and keep your project on track.
Avoidable mistake #2 – Not including every department of your business
Your MIS will sit at the heart of your business and will be used by every department at one time or another, so you need to make sure your project team includes people from every area of the business.
Each department will have different requirements from the MIS and leaving even one of them out could throw a spanner in the works later on, forcing you to backtrack and reconfigure your software set up. It’s better to get it right first time and include every department in your team right from the beginning!
Avoidable mistake #3 - End users aren’t being included early enough
We know from our many years of implementation experience that it’s often people in leadership roles who manage software implementation projects. This is fantastic for driving the necessary change through the organisation, but it can also mean that the people who are going to be using the software most often, like your estimating team, aren’t brought in until much later.
From our experience, it’s much better to include end users earlier on, not just in the training phase, but in the system set up phase at the beginning of the project. They often know more than the executive team about all the different scenarios that the software will be used in the business, and so will have valuable input to ensure the system is set-up correctly for your business needs. We’re not saying you need to include ALL your end users in the implementation project, but including one person from each group of heavy users (e.g. estimating, sales, production) will make your software set-up more robust.
Avoidable mistake #4 - Neglecting testing
User acceptance testing is a really important part of an implementation project. But sometimes we get companies who push this aside, not understanding the value it brings them.
In any major software implementation project, there will be scenarios that you just haven’t considered when setting up your system. It’s your MIS partners job to talk you through as many of these scenarios as they can, of course, but every printing business we’ve ever come across is different in some way or other, and there will be certain things relevant only to you that you might not have thought about yet. And you really don’t want the moment you encounter these to be on day 1 of Go Live when an order comes in! The only way to mitigate this is to carry out user acceptance testing of the software before you Go Live with it.
To make sure this happens, you’ll need to book in some more time blocks for everyone in your project team to spend on testing different scenarios, either on old quotes and jobs you’ve worked on before, or by putting new ones through in tandem with your existing system. Do this and everything will go much more smoothly when it’s time to Go Live.
While talking these avoidable mistakes through with our Implementation Specialists, I noticed a real recurring theme here – the way to avoid problems is to dedicate enough resource to the implementation and testing, and make sure it’s the right resource. By doing this, you’re setting yourself up for a more successful project and removing all the bumps you would otherwise have encountered along the way.