Once the choice of your new IT package and supplier has been made, it is the actual implementation and the support of staff that is just as critical. Without the commitment of your staff to ensure that the new system works, it will be a much longer and costlier road. This hidden cost is often overlooked and is one that can far exceed any initial outlay, making the entire project a waste of time and money!
Typically, for every R1.00 that is spent on software, R2.00 would be spent on hardware and an additional R 1.00 on implementation. However, when the implementation process is not properly planned and staff buy-in to the process is not forthcoming, the implementation costs can rocket to as much as R10.00 for every R1.00 that is spent on software. Missed deadlines, errors, loss of productivity, unhappy staff, incorrect calculations and increased installation costs, all add up very quickly.
How to avoid the pitfalls
Firstly, staff at all levels must be included in the process. If not in the decision making process, they must be kept informed. Staff throughout your organisation must understand that the new IT system is there to assist in making their jobs easier and more efficient. This will allow them to concentrate on their area of speciality or take on extra tasks that will enrich their function. If they see the new system as the road to retrenchment rather than enrichment, then they can actually ‘sabotage’ the implementation process in order to protect their jobs. This is a very real perception on the part of many employees and a very real problem to management when it comes to making changes for the better. So, communicate the benefits and reinforce that through more efficient systems, the company can grow and prosper – the very best combination for job security into the future!
Have a plan
Secondly, a Project Plan for the implementation of the new system is essential. Through the implementation team, which includes trainers, a project manager and data capturers, the whole process must be planned – from where to begin to who does what when. Clear goals and deadlines must be communicated and agreed by all concerned.
Part of the planning process must include a Gap Analysis. This needs to cover all aspects of your business and where the most critical areas for concern may be. Part of this process is also to clarify your expectations vs. those of the IT supplier. Often, through lack of understanding by both parties, unrealistic expectations can cause ‘bottlenecks’ which, with proper planning and communication, could be avoided.
Remember: A new IT system is the ‘heart’ of your operation – there will be a recovery period of 1 to 3 months where changes will need to made to ensure a full recovery and a long and healthy future. Changes in both the software and how your business has and will operate must be expected once the system is up and running. Just as with a new heart, medication and exercises will need to be adapted to be suit your body and lifestyle – your IT system is no different!
By working with your IT provider and keeping the company informed of changes and symptoms, any problems can be identified and quickly resolved – together.