Welcome to the final installment in our series on how to select the right POS & Business Management Software for your business! Today we’ll be discussing the implementation process and what you should consider before selecting a software provider.
The Implementation process of a new software program is not a small undertaking. There can be many challenges; however, with proper preparation you can limit any confusion or frustration. Knowing the common challenges implementation clients experience may help you better prepare for your implementation. There are five main things you need to be aware of in order to create a solid project plan and realistic goals.
1. Your Time Commitment
Purchasing a software program is an investment, so it’s vital that you take part in the process. Every implementation team should have a Project Manager, such as the Store or Office Manager. Ideally the Project Manager you choose is someone with a broad knowledge of your organization who is committed to working on product setup for all departments and training on the entire system.
Typically, an integrated software program that includes all aspects of business management will take about 8 weeks to implement. Employees assisting in setting up the new software database should plan to work on the project at least 2 hours every day. Because of this time commitment it’s important to plan ahead and do your implementation during your slow season. While the time commitment can seem intimidating, the software provider should be providing a software expert and implementation tools to walk you through the implementation process.
2. Staffing Issues
Because of your time commitment to the Implementation project it may be necessary to hire some additional help during the next few months or reassign existing staff as you focus on setting up a clean and reliable database. If this is necessary, think about when you could devote time to the implementation project and look for someone who could cover that timeframe so your business can continue running as usual.
Many advanced software providers will have a data conversion or data import option for you to consider. While this option can help the project move along more quickly, it’s important to consider the health of your data. Is the data you currently have something you want to put in your new database? Is it uniform and organized? If not, you may want to consider cleaning up your data before moving it to your new system. You may also want to ask your software vendor about industry integrations and automated methods for downloading SKUs and pricing information from your vendors.
Training on the new software program is crucial to a successful implementation. We recommend a “train the trainer” approach where your key players train on the new system, then train general staff based on how they plan to use the program in their business. Training on the new system before working on product setup is also important. By training first, you’ll get a visual on how the system is designed to work and how your processes can be molded into the software’s process. Having a basic understanding of how the software works will help you make more educated decisions when working on setting up your database.
5. Be Prepared for Change
If someone asked me what the number one reason for an unsuccessful implementation was I would quickly respond by saying “unwilling to change.” Old processes you used in your paper system or old computer system may not be an option in a new software system. But it’s important to remember there is a reason you chose to move forward with a new program. The old processes were not working or they were holding your company back from expansion. Listen to the software expert’s recommendations as you learn about the new program and be open to possible process changes that could benefit your company.