Technology adoption is a significant investment for a business. A sound choice and a successful implementation improve productivity and efficiency, enhance customer service and accelerate results. The following is a list of key considerations.
- A technology roadmap. Adoption of technologies needs to be well planned and viewed as part of an organization’s strategy. Adhoc additions of technology will result in disparate solutions that are difficult to integrate.
- Clear business needs. A clear understanding of business needs sets the criteria for solution selection. A review of the current situation reveals problems, their root cause and impacts. Questionable assumptions, policies and guidelines will be brought to light.
- A scenario approach to solution assessment. Request the vendor for a scenario-based demonstration. A standard feature-based demonstration does not provide a clear picture on how well the technology handles the business needs. It is too generic, making it difficult to uncover important constraints and limitations.
- Leverage for innovation. Most solutions have embedded best practices in the application. Consider whether they are applicable and beneficial to your business. Think from the customer’s perspective and look for unconventional ways to create customer value.
- Objective assessment. Focus on needs. Do not be distracted by the bells and whistles. Request the vendor for customer references. Check with the references on vendor’s work quality, user experience, cost and benefit delivered.
- Keep customization to a minimum. While it is ideal to tailor the solution to match all of the requirements, it adds cost and complexity. Extensive customization creates a need for significant future investment when the vendor upgrades the solution. There is a risk of a complete rewrite.
- Be prepared for the data migration challenge. This is one of the most challenging tasks. Data fields of the current application might have been used for different purposes over time, making it difficult to align the data fields for rapid migration. Do not underestimate the effort. Poor planning could result in tremendous headache and frustration.
- Meet the need for decision making information. An integrated tool should help to eliminate taxing tasks such as duplicate entry, data reconciliation, export of data to Excel for report creations, and upload of massaged data to complete a process. Unfortunately, project budget often runs out when time comes to work on this. The default is to use poorly designed custom reports that come with the solution. This could result in Excel hell.
- Rational phasing of implementation. Depending on the scope of the implementation, it might be necessary to phase the rollout in a way that is rational and supportable. The “big bang” approach provides a clean cutover but could set off panic buttons if it is not planned well. The business could come to a halt.
- Committed and collaborative project team. Apart from being able to commit time, team members need to work collaboratively. This means they need to keep an open mind and a keen eye for opportunities to do things differently and better. Do not agree to a resource simply because he is available. You want good people on the project team.
- Excellent project management. This is critical to maintain the momentum, to ensure that resources are optimized, to make sound decisions, and to foster a positive team spirit. Mediocre project management will result in confusion, cost overrun and delays.
- Sound change management. There are two key elements of change management: the technical side and the people side. The technical side includes the management of changes in work processes, job scope, policies, business practices, etc. The people side includes the management of resistance, fear, lack of skills, and individual support necessary to make the leap. The people side of change management is usually more challenging.
There are other considerations such as technical assessment of the solution, testing and training that are just as important. Implementation of technologies is a complex undertaking. It requires dedication and attention to details. Your business is rewarded handsomely when proper due diligence is performed.