implementation challenges

9 questions to ask before your organization’s next IT implementation

Digital transformation is 80% planning, and 80% implementation. And it's up to the IT team to ensure that tools and platforms are both fit for purpose and rolled out in a way that lets the whole organization realize that purpose. Here's some key advice on ensuring your next implementation goes as smoothly as possible.

Change is inevitable. Especially in IT departments in 2020. With the drive to transformation and the mass shift to remote working rapidly overwhelming legacy systems, it’s clear that the only option will be to retire many of your systems and replace them with something capable of handling the pressure – without breaking the bank.

And of course, it’s your job to make sure the new tool is bedded in and works without any hitches. And no matter the size or scope – whether you’re implementing a company wide ERP system that’ll underpin the organization’s operations for years to come, or just upgrading to Office 365 – this is often easier said than done.

To help you on the way, we’ve compiled this list of questions you should be asking – of yourself, your leadership team, and your users – to smooth the process of your next implementation project.

  1. What problem are we trying to solve?

The most important question to ask before undertaking any major project. Knowing the issue you’re tackling goes a long way to preventing scope creep, identifying natural areas of responsibility and accountability for your team and others, and identifying the right tool for the job. If you can’t get a clear answer to this question, it’s a good sign everyone needs to hit the breaks and have a serious conversation about just what you’re trying to achieve.

  1. What are the implications of doing nothing?

The problem might be causing pain, but sometimes the pain of solving a problem can be greater than the pain of the problem itself. And some problems can simply be dealt with long term. Before you start, it’s vital to ascertain whether the best course of action is actually _not_ to act.

  1. What’s our vision for the solution?

A strategic vision for the solution – how it will interact with the rest of your ecosystem, the functionality it will provide, and the total cost and benefit it will represent – is as vital to smooth implementation as many of the complex technical decisions you need to make. Refining your vision will also allow you to begin re-orienting your processes to accommodate new systems.

  1. Is everyone on your team on board?

A lack of buy-in from IT exposes the organization to real risk in the form of wasted end-user time, and in the form of exposure to unnecessary risk. Poor implementation means poor functioning, poor security, and a poor allocation of resources. Make sure your whole team is ready to deliver before you take the plunge.

  1. Is everyone in leadership on board?

Organizational leadership should always provide the vision and momentum for change – especially as without their explicit involvement, it’ll be difficult to drive adoption at every level and align teams to new strategic priorities. Make sure that your senior colleagues are on your side.

  1. How will we establish the project team?

One of the most common sources of failure for change initiatives in and out of IT is lack of appropriate resources. Some implementations can be carried out alongside regular day-to-day duties. Others – like full scale ERP – may require a dedicated project team that spends an extended period working solely on the task at hand. You’ll have to decide which approach is right for every project you handle.

  1. Who will own the implementation? Us? The vendor? Outside consultants?

Depending on the size and complexity of your new system, the individuals responsible and accountable for success may change. You may rely on outside consultants to take the lead to let your own teams focus on the day to day. Or even support from the vendor’s own teams. Importantly, the people responsible for leading the project can’t afford to be distracted by day-to-day firefighting.

  1. Where are we likely to see resistance from the userbase?

Resistance isn’t something that can simply be nipped in the bud. It’s an inevitable feature of most change projects. It arises because conditions and needs on the ground often make adopting new tools difficult, even if there’s strong appetite for the change. Speak to your users and identify the choke points and you’ll have a much easier time overcoming them.

  1. Are we actually doing this, or just talking about it?

Communication doesn’t necessarily equal execution. It’s very easy for leadership to assume that once they’ve given an order, the implementation will happen automatically. To ensure that this doesn’t happen (and that the implementation does), you’ll need to actively engage all levels of the organization regularly to check up on the process and ensure that everyone understands what’s expected of them, how they can do it, and where to go if they feel they need support.

Experience what Unit4 can do to help your organization implement our systems seamlessly and painlessly. Join us at X4U this October.

With over 40 sessions on every aspect of business technology from ERP to FP&A, HCM, and financials, including:

  • Cloud migration for IT teams: providing an outline roadmap for your migration from an on prem or hybrid ERP implementation to the cloud.
  • Building for the business: extension and integration: how to extend your core ERP processes across multiple business functions to create a non-siloed, efficient digital operating model
  • Roadmap to success: planning implementation: Learn how to map out a successful implementation from other IT practitioners with multiple successful cloud implementations under their belts.
  • CX session: Join Dean Gardner, Unit4’s Global Head of Customer Support, for an update from our teams their plans to deliver the best possible customer experience.

X4U is over for now, but you can still watch every session on demand by clicking below.

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