No matter the size of your business, you will eventually need to either upgrade existing systems and software, or add new kinds. While these changes can ultimately improve productivity, they can also cause major upheaval – especially if they are not done correctly. There are multiple issues associated with company-wide software and hardware implementation including:
- Hardware and software compatibility issues
- Data loss and
- Poor user training.
Tips for Software or Hardware Implementation
Software and hardware implementations don’t have to be difficult. By following four simple steps, you can ensure that your implementation runs smoothly.
1. Develop an implementation plan.
This is the most important part of the process and the one where many companies run into trouble. The plan should include a specific timeline for deployment, including the purchase and testing of the software or hardware, training, rollout, and contingency plans for handling outages and downtime. Without a strong plan in place, you could get blind-sided by productivity-killing complications.
Some companies might offer software and hardware implementation support when you buy there software, which can take much of the guesswork out of the process. For example, if you run a construction company, you could use Procore software implementation to roll out their software to your entire team, rather than trying to manage the implementation process in house. The end result is that you will have someone who knows the ins and outs of the software in charge of training your staff, and providing technical support throughout all stages of the implementation.
2. Keep the lines of communication open.
Whether you choose to plan and manage the software and hardware implementation yourself, or hand it off to someone else, you need to keep your people in the loop. They need a clear idea of the structure and timing of the implementation, as well as your expectations. You also need to be open to feedback from your staff regarding the software and hardware implementation. A plan could look good on paper, but in practice you could discover that it creates difficulties that only the people in the trenches would notice. Keeping the lines of communication open makes your staff feel as if they are part of the implementation, rather than having it thrust upon them.
3. Maintain steady goals.
There may be times during the implementation where you will need to move some goal posts. Perhaps you need to wait for a software patch to be available before you can proceed, or you have run into some other sort of obstacle. These changes and delays are perfectly normal, and par for the course. And as long as you communicate the reason for the delay to your staff, they should understand.
However, what you should not do is make unnecessary changes to the plan.
For example, You’re updating your database software and have decided to roll it out to the remote sales team first. Because none of them are in-house, you have to schedule dates for each salesperson to come in and get his machine upgraded. Because it’s a complex upgrade, it could take all day so each person has to clear his schedule for that day. You get everyone scheduled and are all set, and then you decide you’d rather just have them do the installs themselves. At the last minute you cancel the in-house sessions and, instead, send your sales staff an email with a link to the software download, and instructions for install and configuration.
The result of this change is that you have salespeople who have cleared their schedules, expecting to get a professional upgrade of their software and instead they are faced with having to spend that time trying to figure out the install themselves. That leaves a lot of room for error and frustration, and could end up causing the software and hardware implementation to take twice as long.
4. Track every step of the process.
Keep records of the process – the areas that went smoothly, and the areas that needed improvement. This will most likely not be the last time you do an implementation, so keeping records will show you where you need to improve on the next software and hardware implementation.