In this article we want to share with you the importance of committing to a software optimization programme, so that you can make the most of your technology investments and digitize your business as much as possible.
This is pretty important to do right now because if 2020 has taught us anything, it's that our companies need to be agile. No matter what happens, we need to have things in place so that we can always access the important data that we have in our business, and to carry on engaging with our customers, no matter where we are located. What that essentially means is that we all have to move away from manual processes (particularly ones that use paper) and move them into software instead. It also means connecting all that software together, so that information is shared across departments and everyone knows what’s going on in the rest of the company.
So how do you go about doing that? Take a look at these 5 steps you can follow to kickstart your software optimization project.
STEP 1 - Choose the right people to lead the project
The Executor – This member of the team will drive the project forward, executing the vision. They don’t need to have a development background, but they must have a decent understanding of technology and integration.
The Techy – The person that will deliver the technical requirements of the project.
STEP 2 - Creating a software optimization team
In addition to your 3 key people above, you need to add some more people to your software optimization team, because you need representation from every function of your business. You’ll definitely need someone from customer services, estimating, prepress and production as a minimum, but you may also want to include scheduling, dispatch and even accounting - it entirely depends on your requirements and the software applications you use. The Executor, who will have a broad operational knowledge of the business, should make a judgment call on this. The point is that every person on the team should have in depth knowledge of their respective area and so will know what information they require to contribute to the project and make everyone’s job easier. When choosing these team members, you should try and identify those with:
Good communication skills (these will be necessary when liaising with other members of the team)
Bundles of enthusiasm and drive!
Technical ability is useful but not essential
STEP 3 – Project kick off meeting
The first thing your software optimization team needs to do is to hold a Project Kick Off meeting. Ask members to prepare for the meeting by identifying some processes within their department that they think could be improved.
Are we using the software properly?
Are there any add-on tools we could benefit from?
Is all our software updated to the latest version?
Could we connect our software together?
Are there any manual processes that are time consuming and/or simple but repetitive that could be automated?
During the meeting, here’s an agenda of what they should discuss:
Talk about the overall purpose of the optimization programme and why you are all there.
Identify what success will look like (what’s your main goal, how will you know when you’re winning).
Ask everyone to present their opportunities for optimization.
As a team, pick one of these opportunities as your first project. It’s up to you how you make this decision, but you probably want to choose something that:
Can be achieved with existing resources and won’t cost anything.
Will make a big impact and save you lots of money (although it’s worth pointing out that it’s often the small, incremental gains that come together to have the biggest impact, so don’t discount smaller projects).
Plan in those all-important regular review meetings. It’s important that team members do get some time off from normal duties to attend these meetings.
STEP 4 - Your first software optimization project
Your project will run like any other project, by assigning tasks, responsibilities and deadlines to your team members. But it’s worth bearing in mind:
That the rest of your employees may need training on the new changes. We don’t need to tell you how grumpy people can get when things change without explanation or warning!
That you need to communicate what’s happening and why to the rest of the company – nothing stops a technology project dead in its tracks quite like a group of employees who don’t see the point in changing how they’re doing things now.
STEP 5 - Hold regular meetings
The key here is to make your meetings regular, so add them into diaries months in advance, make it clear that attendance is mandatory and don’t accept flimsy excuses for not attending!
By following these 5 steps – creating a software optimization team that consists of the right people and holding regular meetings with clear objectives – you’ll be able to deliver a successful software optimization project that runs smoothly and keeps you committed to continuous improvement.