After a long and painstaking process to acquire the perfect technology, it’s really tempting to just let the IT department get it up and running as quickly as possible. But speed cannot be your biggest driver. If you want to reap the rewards of all that hard work, you’ve got to take the time and commit the resources to “do it right.” Implementation is a crucial part of a larger project cycle that requires effective definition and planning from the start.
This article focuses on implementation. Whether you are about to launch a project, are smack dab in the middle of one, or are open to fresh ideas for future projects, we guarantee at least one “light bulb” moment somewhere among our top 10 tips. Read on!
1. Establish a cross-functional project team
Implementing technology is no time for anyone to stand alone. A crossfunctional project team is critical to success. IT and Operations were likely instrumental in the selection process and will continue to be active team members, perhaps with expanded responsibilities. But you’ll want to consider some other players for your implementation team:
- An internal Project Manager who is experienced with technology implementation and vendor management to coordinate with the vendor project manager.
- Human Resources to be aware of changing roles and responsibilities or job descriptions.
- Training to be aware of requirements and process changes and start developing content early.
- Change Management to prepare the organization for what could be major change for people to absorb
- Procurement/Contracts to ensure that the statement of work (SOW) is complete.
- Subject-Matter Experts (SMEs) from other areas of your organization to discuss business value opportunities and define requirements.
While some of your team members may have limited involvement through the project, you’ll still want to bring them together early to frame expectations for each person’s contribution. Don’t limit yourself by trying to define in advance how each person will add value. Offer a seat at the table to all affected departments. You need everyone’s buy in and participation for success.
2. Negotiate a comprehensive vendor SOW
You can’t cut to the implementation chase until you solidify the scope of professional services that the vendor will provide. The following are a few suggestions to guide that sometimes arduous process:
- Allow time for dialog when you define vendor and project team member roles and responsibilities. Clarity on who is doing what is critical, and it takes longer than you think to get it right!
- Ensure that the vendor includes its roles and responsibilities and yours in the SOW and specifies key points of contact to address issues as they arise.
- Define the process to request and approve changes to the SOW. (Yes, there will be changes! Don’t stop the train while you figure out what to do.)
- Keep negotiating until you arrive at final pricing. Each iteration offers opportunities for vendor give-and-take.
3. Define clear operational requirement
Start the design phase by clearly documenting operational requirements and goals for the new technology. Be specific about the efficiency, process or service improvements that you expect. Put the vendor on notice that you aren’t recreating the status quo, nor are you opening the door to needless “scope creep.” Take time to explore the capabilities, functions and options of the new system prior to design sessions with the vendor.
Then, clearly document your new processes for “Phase 1.” If you will have future enhancements to further leverage the technology, create a roadmap for subsequent improvement phases. These steps will ensure that you manage the scope on your initial implementation while also defining the next steps to further gain business value from your investment.
Communicate openly with the vendor’s team on the short- and long-term possibilities and plans. Uninformed decisions in the requirements phase can cost you time and money down the road.