Originally published as advice to the boss who paid the big bucks for new software to run his business... only to be faced with a daunting implementation project to make it all work. Whether you are running a software implementation project, or any project involving people, change, tasks and deadlines, (and that's all of them, right?) the following advice will serve you and your project well.
Ten Steps That Lead To A Successful Implementation (or any project!)
- Promote The Project - Hey... attitude is everything and your attitude will make a huge difference. Everybody has to know that you are totally committed to the project. If you don't support your people with a positive attitude during the implementation, they will surely fall into the opposite mindset. And digging them out of a hole is much harder than letting them fall in. Make a concerted effort to "get the word out" about how important and beneficial the project is and the response will be great. You need to market the big picture ahead of time and not let up... even after you're done and you "go live."
- Commitment Is Key - This is not a game... nor a theoretical exercise... nor some burdensome, unwanted series of nuisance tasks designed to waste your people's time. This is business -- your business. We invest immensely in dedicating our resources to learn your business and translate your needs into business software automation. You should understand why we expect nothing less in terms of commitment from you and your team.
- Delegate Responsibilities Clearly - The more organized your effort, the better. Each member of your team should have clearly defined duties. But in addition, everyone should know each others' job just in case a team member gets stuck doing something else. And if you haven't allocated at least one person to the full time success of the project don't be surprised if they deliver only part time results.
- Provide Good Instructions - At every session your Project Manager will provides complete instructions to all team members... down to the steps to follow in each screen. A recap of every meeting includes topic by topic what was covered including attachments. Read those summaries! Then be sure to follow through with clear instructions of your own on what you expect each team member to accomplish. Help them anticipate problems ahead of time and enable their efforts to complement the technical skills they will be learning.
- Timing Is Everything - When you think your people have too little to do, you already have too much. Look ahead... look back. There is always something to anticipate or complete. Make sure you know and understand the process that must be followed from end-to-end. Observe the progress at every stage. Take advantage of what appears to be a "lull" and re-double your team's efforts. It will pay off in the long run.
- Take Care of Your Staff - Make sure your staff is provided with the tools and recognition they require and deserve. Temperatures will rise in the heat of the implementation. A kind word and a helping hand will go a long way in maintaining unfailing loyalty and focus to accomplish the core objectives.
- Work as a Team - Your own technical staff, hands-on front-line people and project management resources will make or break the implementation. Attitude and accountability rule the day. Being the "boss" is the easy part. It's the rest of the team that makes it all happen. Nonetheless, everyone will look to you for direction. Make sure they understand you are engaged in the project and demand success. Learn the lingo and mind the milestones. The team will gel behind your leadership.
- Do Your Homework - More importantly... make sure everyone on the team does theirs. Just because a task looks easy when is is first presented, doesn't mean everyone will be able to repeat it... or even remember it... unless they practice it. Build redundancy into your process early on. People will come and go... figuratively and literally. Cross-train, practice, and practice again.
- Have an Emergency Plan - "Hope for the best... plan for the worst." Murphy will likely show up at the worst possible time. That is why our senior technical people are always part of the Morphis team... just in case (there's that commitment thing again.) Learn to recognize a failure of a team member when you see it and react quickly before disaster threatens to de-rail all the good work that preceded. And remember... you must accomplish everything... even in crisis mode... while keeping a cool head and maintaining a positive attitude.
- Go with the Flow - There will be hiccups, mix-ups and screw-ups. Just roll with it and fix them on the fly. Don't labor over errors or delays that really may have no long term impact. This is where your preparation and team cohesion will make you or break you. Stay on point, forge ahead, and never give up the ship. Every implementation is different... but all are the just the first step on a long journey.
I promise if you keep these 10 steps in mind you will find more success and satisfaction in any project you undertake, no matter how critical or challenging.