One often overlooked factor in any successful software selection and implementation is organizational change. Is my organization ready, willing, and able to undertake this project?
If it were my project, this would be one of the first questions that I would ask myself. Do not underestimate the impact of this impending change in preparing for your software selection. Remember, hundreds to thousands of people’s daily work will be impacted with a new enterprise system. Understanding and preparing for the organizational change the project will bring will help to ensure a successful selection as well as implementation.
Senior Executive Sponsorship – This is absolutely critical to the project. There will be significant strategy decisions, disagreements, and competing time commitments that will need to be prioritized. You’ll need someone who can make decisions with authority, and help to rally the troops.
Change Management – What other projects are concurrently running? Does the project run into your busy season? You need to have the team’s mind share, and keep key stakeholders fully engaged throughout the process. Make sure that you consider workloads for all parties involved, and balance them accordingly.
Awareness Programs – Are all of the users and stakeholders aware of the project? It is your job, as the project leader/sponsor, to ensure that they are. While email blasts are OK, it is better to include other mediums of communication, like intranet site postings, flyers/tent cards, or better yet events like lunchtime brown bag discussions or even ice cream socials (really!). Try to keep it light, fun, and informational. Explain what the current situation is, what you want to do, and why. Expect both questions and feedback.
Be Prepared for Unhappy or Nervous Employees – I know, you’re thinking “we really need a new solution, as this one is old, slow, and no longer meets our needs”. While awareness programs will hopefully get people excited about a new system, it is likely that some will become apprehensive and/or nervous. Some common complaints heard include:
• “But the old system is fine.”
• “The last time we rolled out a new system, it was a disaster.”
• “The new system will save time and effort, but do I have to worry about my job now?”
• “I don’t want to take the time to learn new software.”
• “Will I lose control?”
It’s important to get people involved, ensure that their input is heard, and make sure that they stay engaged throughout the selection process. In this way, they will have some level of ownership in the process, and will be more likely to be a positive influence during the implementation phase of the project. Sometimes, even squeaky wheels can become fervent project champions!