Any software implementation is going to have ups and downs, but your experience and your team’s preparation are critical. Even though it may be the same package you have deployed 100 times, the environment in which your operating is brand new. Being prepared takes on several dimensions of which you must account for them all in order to guarantee success.
Creating the Customer Experience
Professional services/the implementation team should never define the implementation experience…but they usually do. This responsibility lands squarely with Product Management. Of course, Professional Services must collaborate with Product Management and Finance to determine what level(s) of service is feasible to deliver, but the determination between boot camp and white glove needs to align with the rest of the value proposition, so that means Product Management.
After you are clear about what the customer experience will be in implementation, you can define the hard skills, soft skills, and team members necessary for a successful project. The likely candidates are Project Manager, Subject Matter Experts for configuration, Trainers, Data Experts, and possibly Process Analysts and a dedicated Change Manager.
Everyone has a role to play, but the project manager is crucial. They must have:
1. People skills
2. Project management expertise
3. Industry knowledge
4. Product knowledge
5. Knowledge of internal processes and systems
6. The ability to get things done
Pro tip – If you have a large team of project managers, you may want to benchmark their skills, knowledge and results. You will get more consistent results, share best practices, and help your team grow.
The people on your implementation team need to be some of your best and brightest stars. The folks you really want your customers interacting with, people who know the industry, know the product, and have customer service built into their DNA. If you don’t have these people, place a bookmark here, go get them and come back. Your customers will thank you.
If you don’t have a standard schedule template, build one. Customers and prospects will want to see this to build confidence that you know how to implement your own software, and it is necessary to keep your project on track.
Pro tip – A schedule template provides a baseline process that you can experiment and iterate to improve implementation results.
Odds are, you will not be physically co-located with the entire team and the executives overseeing the project. This means you need to plan (in advance) how you will keep the team on the same page. The communication plan should include the time and agenda for all standing meetings, such as the implementation team and the oversight team. Additionally, information about the project status reports, team website, and the decision making/communicating processes are good additions.
There are dozens of tools to choose from for managing an implementation. Pick tools that allow for open collaboration. My personal preferences are SharePoint for document management and SmartSheet for schedule, team list, risk log, issue log, and decision log. Whatever you do, don’t put your team in a situation where they are relying on pdf documents being sent around or unreliable homegrown systems.
At OpsVantage, we are big believers in the project kick off. The larger the project, the more important the kick off. Developing an engaging presentation to outline the implementation process, roles and responsibilities, key deliverables, high-level milestones, etc are essential. I will cover the kick off in more depth in the next post.
With the prep work out of the way, it is time to amaze the prospects with both the software and the implementation!
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