A software implementation plan provides when and how a new piece of software will be released. Whether the software is for your own business use or for sale to potential clients in the market, you will need a plan to help you deliver the software efficiently to the relevant department in your business, your retailer or direct customers. The plan not only helps you to think through the software delivery process but also makes it easy for you to create a contingency for any problem you may face during the implementation process.
Creating a New Software Implementation Plan
Need assessment is the start of creating a successful plan for software implementation. Needs assessment is about determining what your exact requirements are and examining if this is an opportunity possible to expand on. Spend ample time assessing your inventory assets and resources. Check your data communication status, the computer equipment your business has and the technical competency of your Information Technology staff. If you do not have a well-established Information Technology staff or technical resources, this is the best stage to setup or identify one. Technical resources and the Information Technology staff are a necessity because they play a vital role in the software implementation process.
Knowing Your Budget
You will need a good sum of money to make the implementation of the software a success. It is important to know how much you can realistically spend on this. Obviously, you will incur many costs other than the cost of the software in question. Some of the things you need to think about when preparing your budget include computers and internet connections, the maintenance cost of the software, the information technology staff and consultation time, the cost of time required for a double-entry during a software transition, how much you are going to incur for lost productivity and the cost of learning curve time. If you fail to consider these cost factors, your software implementation plan is more likely to fail you.
You will need people to work with you to make this a success. You therefore need to make sure you include executive sponsorship in your plan. Ensure you have included line staff in the plan as well as a range of roles and responsibilities. Proceed to identifying a key driver for this project. Your project manager would be the very best choice to pick for the post because of their background experience in managing these types of activities. The committee will assume the responsibility of creating a document that clearly outlines what your needs are, then circulate the document to software vendors, and then request for their response.
Choosing a Suitable Software Solution
Now choose a software solution based on your budget and the feelings of the form committee created earlier. Consider re-evaluating your needs if there is no solution that suits you already defined or current needs. Re-evaluate your budget if there is not a solution available to suits your current budget. You must stay focused on your core needs and ensure you have solutions that can be implemented in different stages. Make sure you compare your inventory with your solution requirements. Take corrective measures to correct shortcomings you will realize during your comparison if any. Retain an experienced IT support team and if necessary, upgrade your computer systems and internet connection for a better use experience and an effective working environment.
Have an Implementation Strategy
Mapping your implementation strategy with vendors is a useful approach when developing a software implementation plan. The vendors should have a plan for the implementation strategy. Let the vendors guide your plan, not driving it. Note that this is your implementation and your business. Make sure your project manager is aware about who they will be working with from the vendor because this is your implementation and your business. You and the form committee should then spend ample time to review the current processes that are relevant to the software in question.
The review process is a massive undertaking that should not be taken lightly. Be careful and keen to details during the review process because id not done correctly, it could lead to huge problems later in your business. Ask your project manager to be more actively engaged in the review process. He should take proper lead on the review of all current processes, right from the start to the end of this activity.
Mapping the Processes
This is where you map your current processes to the new software solution with the vendor. At this stage, you need to think about the possibility of changing your processes. Think about the possibility of alternative software if the alternative can accommodate over 80% of your situations. Consider a pashed approach to software customization. Start with what you must have and look at other customization options that can be of benefit to your processes.
The Installation Process
The installation and configuration of the new software solution will take a combination of the vendors, Information Technology resources, your IT staff and additional resources that may be required. Getting three types of installation of the system, if possible, is a great idea. The three installations include a live version, a test version where all the updates can be tested and training version where staffs can make mistakes when learning how to use the new system without endangering anything. One important thing you want to think about how you will manage change control in case your vendor comes with an update.
Create a process to get information into the new system. The process could be data imports, data entry or a combination of the two. Get the staff involved in the software test process. Getting the staff involved in the test process will help you know how best your documented your processes. Include a change plan in the process where you can make changes either to your processes or to the system.
Make sure you have the right people in the training and the vendor should be available in the training session. Provide information and resources employees will need to do their job properly in your software implementation plan.
Chris is the Lead Author & Editor of Change Blog. Chris established the Change blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Change Management.