Implementing new software requires a significant financial investment and employee effort. It can be a scary process to many people: managers because of the scale of the project, and employees because of the potential for major changes in their work patterns and time away from their families. Here are some ideas that we've found in the course of many installations to be helpful for maximizing your success.
1. Name the Project
Having a catchy name can identify the work in a positive way. We are all easily influenced by the words we habitually use. Why do you think the Army uses sometimes-ironic "Operation" names?
The project leader or members of the cross-functional team can determine a name. If you do decide to use a name, keep it simple for ease of use.
Example: the Diamond Project
2. Create a Project Plan
As with any big job, breaking the project into meaningful tasks will help the implementation run more smoothly. Include in the plan all of the departmental responsibilities, codependent steps, data conversion, employee training, and most importantly, a realistic timeframe. This should be the guide for the project leader and team to follow with measurable steps.
A good plan will help everyone feel included in the process and have the ability to see the progress being made on the project. Which leads us to. . .
3. Recognize the Project Team
4. Celebrate the Project Start
Engage your entire workforce by celebrating the start of the implementation. Consider having a breakfast treat, like coffee and donuts (or juice and fruit if your company is more health conscious).
This kickoff celebration is an excellent time to communicate the goals of the project using its catchy name, introducing the project team, and emphasizing the positive outcomes of the project for employees. Establishing strong buy-in at the user level supports everyone’s commitment to the success of the project.
5. Announce Project Progress
6. Honor the Project's End
Food is always a great start. Something as simple as a pizza lunch for all your employees and recognizing the project team in front of peers.
One company we worked with recognized the contribution of the project team's spouses by inviting them to a special celebration where team members were publicly thanked. Another company provided team members with "We Survived -project name-” sweatshirts.
Be creative and generate enthusiasm for the next project or future software upgrade, while recognizing the contributions and patience of employees during the transition.
Nancy Wright is a Solutions Consultant at Parallel Solutions, who specializes in implementing ERP software with small, medium and large manufacturers in the Midwest.
Mary Jo O'Neill