How to implement software solutions

This is the second part of a series aimed at covering the process of selecting and implementing business software solutions, where this article finishes the selection process and covers the “How to implement software solutions” part, from the customer’s perspective.

In the last article the selection process was not completed, because the final step is related to implementation aspects that we’re now detailing. Solutions of this dimension require a relevant level of configuration and customization to ensure alignment with business requirements, therefore, how the solution will be implemented, what project methodology will be used, the level of business involvement, and of course the project effort, represent important factors in the choice process.

At this stage, the functional and business requirements are already identified, the solution is also identified and the selected partners have submitted proposals, therefore is possible to determine the cost and evaluate the proposals.

But isn’t the implementation independent of the solution choice?

How to implement software solutions

Depends on several factors.

As mentioned in the previous article, the choice of the implementation partner is as important as the choice of the solution, due to the complexity and scope of the enterprise software solutions. The absence of a qualified implementation partner, inability to respond to key requirements or excessive costs are factors that can define the choice between two competing software solutions.

Other possibilities to resolve limitations at partner level should not be ruled out, however given the purpose of this article it’s important to highlight the impact of the implementing partner on the project’s financial effort, on the quality of the final solution, as well as on the project’s ROI.

Proposal evaluation

In addition to the most prevalent criteria, such as compliance with requirements, effort and cost, there are other relevant criteria that allow to evaluate the received proposals in greater detail. We’ve highlighted the most relevant ones below:

Level of financial detail

What is the cost of the base solution, the cost of the initial implementation, annual corrective maintenance effort, license renewals, training, involvement of internal resources. This level of detail is important to ensure that TCO estimations are not defrauded.

Level of planning detail

As already mentioned in the first article, overly simplistic proposals often follow a commercial approach, and will almost certainly need revisions throughout the project. Ensure the implementation plan covers all key aspects with a proper level of detail.

Level of project complexity

It may happen that some requirements significantly increase the effort of the project, therefore it’s important to understand from the provided requirements, which ones are easy and difficult to accomplish. A common approach when requesting proposals is asking to identify per requirement, which ones are guaranteed natively by the tool, achieved through customization and if customized what is the level of complexity.

Knowledge management

If you have important business processes reflected in the new software, it becomes necessary to retain knowledge on the implemented solution. This retention of knowledge must be ensured by the partner through contracted maintenance services or by formal knowledge transmission.

These and several other criteria are difficult to determine if you don’t have the proper knowledge within your organization. If this is the case, it’s recommended to acquire consultancy services from a partner like Sollogica, to assist in the process of selecting and implementing the software, mitigating knowledge risks and providing the necessary expertise to move towards the intended objective.

Solution Implementation

After the selection is made, we then proceed to the implementation process, which despite being under the responsibility of the entity hired for the purpose, must be carefully monitored by the client.

Software implementation

As the internal requirements assessment phase, resources should be allocated to ensure project monitoring, requirements clarification, operational processes detailing, user experience and other necessary aspects before the acceptance phase. The team constitution must be carried out by defining the necessary roles to be involved, followed by the allocation of resources to each role.

Within the profiles identified there will always be a project sponsor, typically linked to the top management, with the aim of monitoring the overall progress of the implementation, which leads us to the implementation methodology.

Project Management

In terms of project management our preference and advice always goes to methodologies based on Agile principles, where Scrum is the most popular but there are others like Kanban.

Not all projects can be implemented this way, due to project size, specific characteristics of the business area or implementation requirements, however, of all the Agile principles, we highlight two that we consider fundamental to the process of developing and implementing solutions, regardless methodology:

Satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software

This is one of the principles that we consider most important in any implementation, given the greater ease in managing expectations and moving towards the proposed goals.

Welcome changing requirements, even late in development

Assume that despite the clients work, there are imponderables that increase according to the size and complexity of the project, therefore the ability to make adjustments without compromising the project should be ensured.

Even if the implementing partner uses another project management approach, at least these two principles should be ensured to properly follow the implementation work, and to provide the ability to react to changes in the project scope. Having mentioned this, our recommendation will always be in the use of Agile methodologies.

Change Management

This is one of the most important aspects for the implementation success, since it’s natural to have some resistance to the solution adoption. This resistance will vary depending on the solution scope and areas, the business culture or the level of digital maturity of the organization, however the lack of adoption is a high risk that must be managed.

Change management

To mitigate this risk we highlight the following measures:

Identify and transmit benefits of change to all affected areas. This transmission can even be done hands-on through preliminary accesses, ensuring that everyone involved can perceive the change benefits.

Leadership must give the example, assuming the change, getting involved in the process and monitoring the adoption over time to avoid setbacks.

Key users are not just proactive resources, but should be ambassadors for change within their colleague circles.

Group culture can generate censorship if an individual who understands the benefits of change is surrounded by non-receptive colleagues. All of the organization networks must be involved to avoid rejection.

Acceptance and Go-Live

After the acceptance tests, the go-live can be scheduled according to the defined approach, and while taking advantage of the new features and benefits, the next initiatives can be pursued.

If there are questions about this article, or you require additional information contact us through the available channels.

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