1. Be Clear: What Exactly is the Software Expected to Do?
Develop a list of clearly defined, specific things that the software
needs to do, such as improve sales by X amount or reduce the production time by X minutes.
Watch out for vague and ambiguous phrases like, "We want software to streamline our processes," or, "We need a system to help boost sales." Create a clear and well-defined set of criteria for what the new system is supposed to do. When possible, set specific goals, such as, "We need a system that cuts our production time," or, "We are looking for software that can automate the sales process." You won't know you've got the right system until you've defined exactly what that system is supposed to do.
2. Be Realistic: How Much Time & Money is It Going to Take?
Under budgeting in terms of time and money is one of the primary reasons that software implementations aren't deemed successful. Usually, someone presents a proposal to upper management, trying to get them to sign off on an expensive solution. In order to better sell their proposal, they estimate the time to implement the software and the money it will take as leanly as possible. Hence, the project is set up for failure before it is even approved. Be realistic. Build in margin for error. These things take time and money, frequently go over budget, and usually take longer than the bare minimum quoted by some vendor.
3. Be Open Minded: What Do All the Stakeholders Have to Say?
Before the vendor selection process begins, let alone time to narrow down your choices to one specific product, all of the stakeholders in the new software implementation need to be given a chance to offer their input. Each department and team has their own needs, goals, challenges, and issues. Everyone will have a unique and valuable perspective. The best software implementation is the one that takes everyone's viewpoint into consideration.
4. Be Forthcoming: What are the Expectations for This Software and is That Realistic?
It's common practice to begin touting the virtues of the new system long before the installation process even begins. "This system will cut hours off your current processes!" "This system will boost sales five times!" While it is important to explain to everyone what the software is expected to do, how it will change the daily workflow, and what everyone stands to gain from the product -- it is also important to manage expectations. Making the software sound too good to be true is simply setting everyone up for a huge disappointment. Be realistic from the beginning, both in what you expect and what you promise to others.
5. Be Proactive: What Support and Assistance Will You Need at Each Step of the Process?
Companies often try to save money at the onset of the process by turning down the extra support, consultation, training, and other optional services from vendors or outside consultants. In the long run, however, the lack of that help and support can cost many times what the business would have spent on the initial consultations and guidance. Don't be shortsighted. Invest in the help you need from the beginning instead of spending more to troubleshoot issues that come up in the later stages of software implementation.
Tip: Integrate your Software Data
Once you have implemented your new software, you'll want to integrate it with your other business software, whether it be your CRM, ERP, marketing automation software, e-commerce platform, or other softwares your business uses. See how these systems can be integrated for better data collection and more powerful analytics.