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Correct Expectations: Time required – staff qualifications – availability

October 31, 2012

During the evaluation process of a new solution, there is one side of the equation that almost never gets reviewed The potential to bring an implementation process to a halt: the requirements for the client company. In the excitement of getting issues resolved there is usually an expectation that, as soon as the solution is implemented, everything is going to be ok. And even if this is obviously the situation at the end of the road, there are going to be a number of steps to get there. And these steps will require the commitment and involvement of both management and staff within the client company.

There is one extremely important consideration for the success of a software solution implementation: without clear and specific internal procedures, there is no software solution that will take care of the internal issues that are at hand. If the organization is chaotic, the implementation process will be chaotic and the final outcome will be chaotic. This is very difficult to understand, especially for management, who has obviously operated this way for a long time and is used to this way of operating. And if management is also the owners of the business (that was created a long time ago by such and such, yada, yada, yada), then there is an emotional load that is hard to overcome. To them, the feeling is like questioning the way to raise a child. Why, if we have done that this way for years, we need to change now? Well, the answer may very well be because we want to improve our operations and in the process have more revenue, correct?

Part of the internal review process for an implementation is making sure that the staff is qualified to handle the change, that they have enough time to go though the change and that the people defined to act as project managers are deeply involved in the day to day operations of the company. Consulting firms are faced with many challenges over the implementation process, and each one of them cost the customer money one way or another:

–          Project leaders that do not know the operation in depth: they will provide erroneous or superficial information on which decisions will be made. This causes a great deal of reworking.

–          Staff that is not qualified to handle the change: this does not need a lot of discussion. The consequences are obvious.

–          Staff that is too busy to handle the change: a change on software solution will require involvement at every level of the corporation. Scheduling an activity (such a definition or testing) with a user that will not have the time to perform the tasks at hand will result in delays and reworks. The worst part is that this will make the project lose its momentum, processes get forgotten and, at the end, this will have a cost to the company.

–          Staff not committed to the change: this is an emotional issue that sometimes gets overlooked. Example: an employee that has performed the accounts payable duties for 30 years and that does not get involved nor invited to the demonstration and qualification process of the new solution. This person will feel left out, will have a terrible time letting go of old ways and old solutions and, most important, will not cooperate with the implementation process. We have even seen cases where a person will withhold important pieces of information or somehow sabotage the entire effort. This will have serious implications down the road, and have a financial impact on the project.

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