Implementing Business Software Systems: Key Factors for Successful Implementation, Part 1
Clear Business Case
Being clear about why you are putting the new system in and what you want to achieve by putting it in, is fundamental to the success of the new system. The goals, objectives, desired benefits and scope of the new system need to be determined right at the start, and must be well thought through and clearly defined to ensure they are realistic and mean the same to everyone. It is this business case that underpins and drives the whole project. It provides the justification for all the time and money that will need to be spent and gets the buy-in from management.
A clear business case means you know how much it is worth spending on a project, because you know what the returns should be. It also means the project team understand which aspects of the new system are essential to have, because they will help deliver the required benefits. Having unambiguous, well thought through objectives and scope from the start means they are less likely to change during the course of the project. Changes to objectives and scope usually require rework and additional work, which in turn results in the project taking longer and costing more.
If the business case is not sufficiently well thought through and clearly defined at the start, you risk not achieving the benefits and returns on your investment that you were originally hoping for.
Management will have to make staff available to work on the project, which in turn is likely to have a detrimental effect on their normal job and the operation of their department. Management will also have to be involved in the project, for example, in the redesigning of processes and procedures. Management also need to understand the implications of the new system for their area of the business and for their staff.
Having the support of management for the new system is therefore vital to the success of the project. It is also very important that one senior manager should have ownership of the project and the responsibility for getting the buy-in and support of others (i.e. championing the project), if necessary.
Without the commitment, understanding and involvement of management, not only are the expected benefits less likely to be achieved, there is an increased chance that the new system will not be used, or that the project will be abandoned and the system never even implemented.
Great Project Management
Also critical to a successful implementation is good project management. Implementing a new system is a relatively complex project, involving changes to processes and procedures, as well as setting up and learning how to use the new system. Thorough and detailed planning is essential before the project starts and close tracking and good control of the project is vital when it is underway. Thorough planning ensures realistic timescales and budgets are set, and the amount of staff time required is known. Good control ensures timescales are met and that costs don’t escalate and outweigh the expected benefits.
Without a sufficiently experienced project manager to oversee the whole project, not only is there a danger that the implementation will take longer, require more staff time and cost more than was expected, there is also an increased risk that problems will be experienced when the new system goes live. Serious problems with a business system can damage the business itself.
For further information on Implementing Business Software Systems please contact Alison Barnes at Greenbeam Consulting Ltd on 0843 523 5630 or email firstname.lastname@example.org