By Paul Rayment, Director, Implementations EMEA
Top-notch technology has moved beyond “nice to have” for most professionals – it’s a necessity and, in many cases, a competitive differentiator. Therefore, when implementing new technology, professional services firms must do everything possible to make sure technology is chosen, implemented, and rolled out with as much speed, precision, and ease as possible. This post will address what is arguably the most challenging part of that process – the implementation.
Software implementations are time- and resource-intensive endeavors that offer the promise of high rewards – when done well. How can your firm help ensure a positive outcome for its next software implementation? There is often a combination of factors that need to be in place or controlled throughout the project. However, the following provides brief insight into five of the more common and impactful areas worth considering to help ensure the success of your next software implementation project.
1 – Project management experience
Nothing quite compares to experienced project management. A project manager with a solid track record of success and hands-on experience delivering the same type of project to similar firms over several years is vital to project success. A seasoned project manager will adjust their approach based on your firm’s needs and the project needs to facilitate success.
2 – The right framework
Working in tandem with experience is choosing an appropriate framework to support project delivery. The right framework allows for the right level of control without being overly perspective or rigid. For example, Wilson Allen utilizes a bespoke framework called RAPID (Review, Align, Prepare, Implement and Deliver), designed to accommodate the core stages of any project delivery without being dogmatic. This framework affords project managers the leeway to adjust their project delivery and include other granular methodologies for certain aspects of the project but not be overly restricted by a particular approach. One size does not fit all, and this framework and approach facilitate a successful delivery for any firm.
3 – Robust governance
Delivering an efficient, dynamic, and successful project also requires robust governance. Regular project executive or steering committee meetings, organized to be efficient and well-ordered, are a must to facilitate issue resolution and decision making. Here too, it’s essential to strike a balance to ensure the project team can make swift decisions and that the cadence of such meetings aids rather than hinders progress.
4 – Clearly defined goals
For project governance to be successful, everyone must be aware of the ultimate aims of the project. Therefore, it is critical to have well-defined, specific, and measurable project goals. A project can only be deemed successful at its conclusion if you’ve used a set of criteria to measure and document milestones along the way. These criteria could be that you delivered the project on time or within a specific budget, that you enabled certain efficiencies, or that you introduced a new function or process. The measures of success should really be a combination of these things, but this step is overlooked or utilized incorrectly in many cases.
5 – Thorough testing before go-live
For any software implementation project – particularly those that replace or upgrade core financial and business systems – the importance of testing cannot be overstated. Quite simply, the more high-quality testing you do, the greater the probability of success. A vigorous and exhaustive testing program is of paramount importance to the success of any software implementation project.
The five elements above are just some considerations to help you achieve software implementation success. There are many other elements to factor in, such as building a collaborative and motivated team, engaging in good project communications, and undergoing the correct planning and preparation. These variables drive home the notion that project success is not just about one factor. It requires equilibrium among all variables that influence the outcome of implementation – the project, the firm, and your key contributors’ knowledge and experience.
At Wilson Allen, we have provided this level of program and project management for countless software implementations for firms worldwide. Our track record for success is due in large part to our approach to the five elements above. But it is also because we fully recognize and appropriately accommodate all of the competing and contributing variables.