Implementing new enterprise-level software across your organization involves several layers of planning. There’s no be all end all method to an implementation but when done well, the process for an IT admin can feel seamless. To better understand the do’s and dont’s, we launched a series outlining best practices and tips for a successful company-wide shift. Welcome to Part II: choosing new software.Check out the first post of the series about common software implementation mistakes.
Choosing new enterprise software is kind of like jumping into a ball pit. One minute you’re relaxed and the next you’re surrounded by thousands of options trying to crawl your way out. Coming to a final decision isn’t as easy as a simple game of Duck Duck Goose or Eeny Meeny Miny Moe. As a team, you need to identify software that best meets the needs of the organization. This requires substantial planning and analysis.
End goal: find software that gives you something back (time, money) and actually works for the people using it most.
Cloud-based vs. traditional enterprise software
You might’ve heard the expression, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” in a traditional enterprise software conversation. That’s all well and good if you’re living in the dark ages, but in 2018, everyday more efficient tools come out, changing the way we can do business for the better. Nowadays more organizations than ever are using cloud-based software as a service over traditional on-premise ones.
The reason why? Cloud SaaS is able to make decisions based on real-time analytics, not to mention it’s cheaper, easier to implement, and doesn’t take up storage space as its cloud/internet run.
SaaS also plays nicely with existing software platforms, thanks to APIs that allow the systems to talk to each other. So if you need to find a product that will integrate with existing tools, like Slack or Hubspot, or you want to add another product to your tech stack in the future, you don't have to worry too much about them all seamlessly fitting together. You do need to have a resource to connect the dots initially, though.
“SaaS solutions typically offer seamless, automatic, frequent upgrades as part of the ongoing subscription charge. Because these upgrades happen more frequently and therefore incrementally than on-premises solutions, they typically have significantly reduced testing and end user acceptance and training costs.” - Forrester Research
Be clear on what problem this software is solving for
Understanding what exactly is causing friction will make the decision and implementation process much easier. If existing, ask end users and admins what about the current system isn't working and what the ultimate end goal is. Continue to pry with "why" and "how" style questions to get to the root of the issue.Sometimes, solutions can be both software and behavioral or management-based, so it’s important to brush away the extraneous factors when looking at the actual software-specific issue.
Selecting software? Figure out what you need.
What are the must-have requirements for the software? Meet with decision makers and end users to determine the answer and create a list. By doing this early on, you’ll identify employee pain points and increase buy-in by involving them from the get go. The more analysis you do in the early stages, the easier the implementation will be.
Pick out the need-to-have’s and nice-to-have’s based on conversations with colleagues. Include people at all levels to figure out what matters most to each person. It’s also beneficial to include employees who have been at the organization for a long time for company expertise as well as newer employees for different perspectives. You’ll be able to include this information in your RFI.
Seek out vendors with a stellar RFI
Time for another list. Come up with software options that may solve the issue. Using research and employee conversations, it’ll be easy to start crossing ones of the list that would be a poor fit. At this point, well-written RFIs and RFPs are critical. A detailed RFI helps eliminate even more choices based on product capability, price, and vendor.
Vendors respond to RFI’s based on the information you provide so the more detail the better. Based on their responses, you’ll be able to measure how well each product meets the needs of your employees. Along with a detailed RFI and RFP, take advantage of the references supplied by the vendor. Check those references and do background research on each one to get user perspective.
Once you narrow down your options, focus on The Core Three:
1. Scalability: Is this software going to work for that size group? If your organization is growing, take that into consideration.
2. Security: Is the software secure? Does it pass the security audit?
3. Rollout: What’s the best way your organization can train users on how to use it?Based on your answers, choose up to three vendors for demonstrations. Get feedback from demo attendees and use that info to confirm your decision.
Pro Tip: Demonstrations are meant to show off the best a piece of software has to offer. Use them to confirm your decision, not to make it entirely.
Info from demos can be used for implementation planning. Use info gathered in the entire selection process to reduce delays and cost increase once you set out to train users.The goal of the entire process is to choose a software that maximizes ROI and equips power users with a dazzling solution.
What comes after actually choosing the software? Implementing it, of course! Check out our other posts of the series: