Sound planning of the implementation is crucial to its success as poor planning and inadequate resourcing are often primary causes of system implementation failures.
The scope of a pan-organisational software system implementation can be huge and is fraught with potential difficulties that may have long-term implications for the company. Not only does it include installation of the new software and the hardware it is to run on, but also precipitates a panoply of potentially difficult and unavoidable human factors, many of which are completely unpredicatable.
Appreciating the conflicts that may arise will enable the organisation to avoid these problems and for the management to anticipate likely trouble spots and mitigate accordingly and in good time.
The first principal point that is required is for the company’s management to understand is that the new system by itself is not some sort of silver bullet that will solve all problems hitherto experienced by the organisation. The entire implementation process involves the complete business process and/or pedagogic practice, customer service, interaction with suppliers and a bond with all other interested stakeholders. Many less tangible activities are crucial and those involved must:
Have a sound understanding of the organisation, particularly in terms of its culture and values.
The rationale behind any new system implementation should have thoroughly considered how the system is likely to help provide a better service to all concerned with it;
Communicate this understanding to all concerned parties.
Undertake a very comprehensive review of all business processes and, where necessary, pedagogic practice, and begin to develop and introduce new policies and procedures before tuning the system to meet the agreed requirements;
Have a complete appreciation of the complexity and flexibility of the system;
Have an understanding of the inherent dangers of customisation of any software and how these can be mitigated against;
Conduct a thorough set systems testing procedures, whilst accepting the potential need for software 'bug fixes' and upgrades;
Budget for the real costs of internal staff time and their training and development;
Train all users to use the system;
Train all users and supervisors to fault-find and correct autonomously;
Acknowledge the critical nature of system documentation and maintain accordingly.
Planning and Implementation
Careful planning and efficient management of the implementation are vital to success and to negate the threats of spiralling costs, extended timescales, losing key personnel and general dissatisfaction with the outcome.
Finally, it is crucial that the “go live” day causes as little disruption to the day-to-day business as is reasonably practicable. Issues that only arise at this juncture become magnified and will undeniably adversely affect the organisation's reputation, sometimes irrevocably, with all stakeholders. It is important to remember that poor project management and lack of communication at this crucial stage can ruin an otherwise faultless implementation.
Despite the obvious dangers faced by a new IT system's implementation, if the company's management follows simple rules and ensures that the neccessary preparations, training and monitoring procedures are in place, a seamless transition to the new system should be possible.
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Paul Carcone - I am a Chartered Management Accountant with a military background who is also a freelance Management Consultant based in the United ...