Avoiding Common Software Implementation Failures

In a successful software implementation, several factors need to be considered and planned for in advance. Some of the most common implementation failures can in fact be prevented with the help of relatively simple preparations.

1. Implementation is Slow

Once the buying decision is made, the organisation will be keen to start using it as quickly as possible, especially as this has been hailed as the remedy for existing bottlenecks and challenges. But sometimes, the configuration, integration, user testing and troubleshooting seem to become never ending.

It is crucial to have a skilled, focused task force involved in implementing the software rather than just assigning it to whoever is available at the time. It is also important to have crystal clear definitions of functionality and integrations from the very beginning. This avoids the implementation becoming a moving target. It often makes sense to take a phased approach which involves rolling out one set of integrations at a time.

2. People Aren’t Using the Software

Perhaps the most frustrating implementation failures is finding out that the users who were supposed to be getting the most value from the software are in fact not taking advantage of it. This is typically caused by a lack of buy in from these people to begin with, or a misunderstanding of their requirements.

By doing careful, thorough research and interviewing users prior to investing in something, you can identify exactly what the solution must do. There may not be an off-the-shelf product available, but bespoke software can be much more cost effective in the long run while also providing unparalleled flexibility.

3. Training Isn’t Good Enough

User training and onboarding is something that should always be included in the software acquisition cost. No matter how intuitive a new system may be, users will need some level of guidance to ensure they adopt the functionality properly. Assuming that users will simply ‘learn by doing’ often leads to frustration and ultimately, reluctance to use the system.

Training materials should be prepared from the moment the software purchase order is signed. Different training may be required for different user levels, as well as user guides, aligned with various job roles. Whether training is carried out live, online or in person, it’s important users have the opportunity to ask questions and become confident in their knowledge about the system.

4. Success Can’t be Measured

When new software is deployed, things like return on investment and increased productivity should be measured, these are critical factors in ensuring the business spends its IT budget wisely – but they can’t be measured unless defined goals have been established for the implementation.

The foundation for success factors are usually laid out from the start of looking for a software solution. The investment in a new solution is obviously justified by discussing how it will improve the business; it might be expected to increase sales, make processes faster, or reduce costs. These are all goals which should be quantified into tangible numbers and percentages. Work with the software vendor, consultants and implementation teams to draw up measurable goals based on research, use case examples and testing.

5. Dependencies and Requirements are Unclear

When it comes to software implementation, surprises are not welcome. No one wants to get halfway into the configuration process only to discover that a member of the team is requesting an integration to some random application you have never heard of, or that the software has a limit of ten data fields when you need fifty. Unexpected challenges can often delay or derail an implementation project, especially if there is no immediate solution available.

A software implementation always needs to be deeply rooted in the user base. It shouldn’t be allowed to become an insular project of one person or team, but involve representatives of every user function to draw up a detailed view of what the processes and interdependencies look like.


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