Implementing new enterprise software systems is a big endeavor that is often fraught with challenges. However, adopting these six approaches – each as impactful as the next – to your rollout strategy can help you avoid the common hazards of software implementation.
1) Realistic time estimates and budgets
While schedules and budgets alone can’t be the prime movers in a software rollout, successful ones make sure those components are realistic. Software rollouts can take longer than most businesses think. And the reallocation of employee time and business resources to an implementation project can come as a surprise. Unfortunately, making strategic decisions from that surprised state often leads to costly mistakes and cut corners
As an example, industry experts say an SAP ERP implementation in a large company takes 31-34 Months and costs 2-3% of annual revenue. Now imagine you are the enterprise that anticipated it would be a year to 18 months until rollout. It would be easy in month 18 to go into a crisis mode that jeopardizes the success of the project.
When generating your schedule and budget at the start of an implementation, take into account its technical complexity, the potential for shifting requirements, and the effort needed to align teams and upskill end users. These are common software rollout snags that can put projects behind schedule or over budget. But if you leave room for Murphy’s Law and take an agile approach, you have a greater chance of success.
2) Resources and support from the top
Successful software rollouts align both IT needs and business needs. But in order to achieve alignment, it is important to get executives on board. Because a software rollout is more than a simple purchase and implementation, leadership should be involved so the changes to business process can benefit from their perspective and get the green light.
To bring executives in the loop and garner their support, a broad stakeholder coalition will need to build and present the business case for the implementation. Here, it is essential to frame the initiative in the context of the overall digital transformation strategy of the enterprise, including the objectives it achieves and its time-to-value. By enlisting an executive or two to your cause, you will have a cheerleader in those high-level strategic meetings and a ready avenue to the needed funds.
3) A cross-functional team devoted to implementation
It is a common mistake to see an enterprise software implementation as the purview of only the IT team. Additionally, businesses will also expect to allocate only a portion of that team’s time to the endeavor. This thinking is a recipe for failure.
Alternatively, software rollouts that have a full-time team dedicated to the task from start to finish have a greater chance of success. But these teams are not solely composed of the IT department. Instead, team members are subject matter experts from different areas of the organization and operate under the leadership of those who are skilled in change management. The team’s objectives are to align implementation goals, processes, and timelines, as well as create a method for identifying and addressing end user problems.
4) A data migration plan
For some software rollouts, valuable historic data will need to be moved to the new system. But that data is only as good as its viability in its new enterprise application. In order to preserve the integrity of your data, your rollout should have a thoughtful data migration plan.
A migration strategy will likely include a good deal of front-end work and may also influence your choice in enterprise software or the method of implementation. In the case of data migration from legacy ERP systems to SAP S/4HANA, some liken it to moving from a big old house to a modern loft – you aren’t able, and won’t need, to bring everything with you.
For a successful software rollout, it is important to determine what historic data you need in the new system and its compatibility with migration. This likely involves purging some data, re-platforming still other data, and repackaging the rest for the move.
5) Sufficient system testing
System testing is built into any software rollout, but successful rollouts utilize a range of approaches to ensure everything works as intended when it goes live. After all, the consequences of insufficient testing are fairly dire: broken business processes, lost revenue, and eroded customer trust.
Automated testing is standard and helps uncover unintended implementation results or errors and can minimize risks to data integrity. This may be a service your vendor offers as a part of the implementation or something better done with a third party. In either case, engaging business units and internal subject matter experts (SME) to help design the UAT is essential.
Furthermore, a blended automation approach – involving both automated and manual testing – is even more robust. Business processes in the new system will likely involve both automated and manual elements, so it makes sense to test it accordingly. Blended testing can also have a positive effect on digital adoption, which in turn positively affects the ROI of the implementation overall.
6) Buy-in from and onboarding support for end users
In the end, each enterprise application is only as good as the people who use it. Successful software rollouts use two key strategies for increasing digital adoption. First, soliciting input from end users at every stage of software implementation can increase buy-in. It is also important in those early stages to communicate the value of the new technology in their current role and overall career development. Providing this context can cultivate a desire to adopt the software and achieve proficiency.
Second, a rollout needs to include a solid end-user training strategy. In today’s agile and ever-changing work environment, this means going beyond traditional training methodologies. The typical one-time, instructor-led training is not effective, as research indicates that 70% of learning is forgotten in 24 hours. Additionally, utilizing standard business process documentation like manuals or webinars are inefficient for their creators: for every hour of training, it takes at least 40 hours of development.
However, new approaches to onboarding and end-user training offer innovative pathways to software rollout success. Digital adoption platforms, for example, provide step-by-step, point-of-need guides that make even the most complex enterprise systems accessible for end users. The guides are developed by SMEs in minutes instead of hours and are on-hand in the application itself. These sorts of solutions not only increase time-to-productivity in a software rollout, but they help end users to use the new system with confidence.
OnScreen is the agile digital adoption platform for SAP and web-based enterprise applications that boosts process efficiency and employee productivity by empowering any user to become a super user. Contact us to schedule a demonstration and see how OnScreen can make your enterprise software rollout a success.