Author: Kieran Dhaliwal, Customer Success Manager
Change is hard. Change in the workplace is especially difficult to get used it, particularly if it involves changing an existing legacy process or product. Even though we may be excited implementing something new, any shift in process, big or small, takes some time to get used to, even if we know it will save us time in the long run. The difficulty of adapting to change, however, can be minimized by following a process before and after implementation to get you and your team prepared for a smooth transition.
As the Customer Success department at Celayix, we have seen hundreds of organizations make successful changes, but not without first taking some important steps. While these tips and tricks are derived from our experience implementing employee scheduling and time and attendance software, it is widely applicable to the integration or implementation of any program, process, or software. Internally at Celayix, we prepare for any transition by following these steps.
With that being said, here are our tips to best prepare for a smooth transition and successful on-boarding of a new program or software system within your organization!
1) Get Your Team Informed Early
It is always important to make sure that everyone on your team knows about an upcoming implementation. It may not always be that everyone is onboard from the beginning, but knowing about an upcoming change and knowing about it early is critical. We recommend getting your team up to speed as early as the beginning of the search and sales process. This will let them come to you early if they have concerns or certain criteria they are looking for.
2) Understand the Effort it Will Take
In the sales or purchasing process, make sure to get a good grasp of the effort and time it will take your team to implement the software. The best way to do this is to ask your sales rep how much effort and time the implementation process will take. If needed, ask your rep to rationalize the number they give you if it sounds too little or too much. This, in turn, will help you (the project lead for your organization) rationalize the effort to the rest of your team.
3) Commit the time
Once you know the time it will take to implement, the next step is committing to that time. Across most projects, lack of time commitment is the number one villain to a successful implementation. The best way to do this is to look ahead at the workload you and your team will have for the next month and evaluate if you can commit the time. On occasion, it may be that your team won’t have the time to commit until the following month or following season. Make sure to communicate this to your sales rep as a concern. They will appreciate the honesty and do their best to offer alternatives implementation timelines and start dates.
4) Plan to Have a Back Up Expert
Turnover in organizations, big or small, is a reality. Because of this, we recommend having more than one person involved in any training sessions to be the in-house expert. Although you may not need the additional resource at the time, they can become very critical if the one person trained leaves the organization. If it isn’t possible to have two, record the training sessions as an extra backup.
5) Ask for a Project Plan
Depending on the size and complexity of the program, a project plan is a great tool to get everyone on the same page. Project plans will help establish a timeline, identify key milestones, as well as explain the implementation process and the key people involved in the process from all ends. Signing off on the project plan is key to its success.
Note: When it comes to project plans, don’t be afraid to ask for this even before the sale goes through. Most organizations will be more than willing to give you full visibility into the post-sale process. In fact, as implementation specialists and project managers, they would be thrilled to share it with you as early as possible.
6) Create a Timeline & Stick to It!
One thing we always do with our clients is create a timeline, starting with the big question: When do you want to go live? If you don’t have a specific date in mind, that is perfectly okay, but having a goal is important. You can work within your availability parameters to set a time that sticks.
7) Record the Training Sessions
Now that you’ve prepared and are ready to jump into the implementation, we highly recommend asking for recordings of your training sessions when possible. As mentioned before, this will act as a valuable resource in the future for both staff turnover as well as additions to the team.
8) Ask Questions, then, Ask Some More
The best time to ask a question is during the implementation process. This way, you have direct access to someone knowledgeable in the product who can answer your questions. We always recommend clients to ask any question, big or small.
Follow these steps for a perfectly executed implementation! From our team to yours, good luck on your next project!
For more resources & tips on ensuring success in new implementations, we recommend checking out our blog posts “Change Management: How to get your Employees on Board with Change” or contact us.