How to Avoid Common Pitfalls in System Implementation Projects

How to Avoid Common Pitfalls in System Implementation ProjectsChange is hard, but it’s also inevitable – and incredibly pressing in today’s ever-evolving world. This is especially true in modern business where adaptability and innovation are prerequisites for survival. While implementing new system projects may seem difficult and daunting, it certainly doesn’t have to be. In fact, adhering to a dedicated change management plan that avoids common pitfalls and follows best practices helps organizations propel themselves toward ongoing success and resilience. Here’s how.

Design and Build for the Future State (Not the Current State)

Often, companies think they can rush the change management process and simply “lift and shift” their current business process to fit a new system. However, it’s important to remember that this implementation project is your opportunity to do things differently for the future of the company. If you need to adapt your business process to the way the system is designed, then adapt.

Over many years, software packages have done extensive research and analyzed many best practices to come up with the software functionality in their systems. There’s a reason that companies buy these off-the-shelf products; they want to adapt and adopt these best practices, even if current processes have to shift to make that happen.

Best practice 1: Avoid AT ALL COSTS customizing the system to follow your unique business process. This leads to extensive and expensive IT costs – not only during the project in the short-term, but over the lifetime of maintaining the system in the long-term.

Factor in Upstream and Downstream Implications

No system is alone on an island. Invariably, it’s part of a larger ecosystem within an IT and data landscape. Savvy companies who implement systems are well-versed in how configuration decisions in the scope of their project will impact the downstream systems receiving data, as well as the subsequent configuration changes downstream.

Best practice 2: Ensure you have mapped all possible configuration decisions into other systems before rushing forward to implement functionality. If the puzzle pieces do not all fit together end-to-end, then your project team must connect the dots.

Focus on the User Experience

Systems implementation partners rarely – if ever – gather requirements as outlined above. Instead, they may look at it through a business process or type of transaction lens, capturing functional data and configuration details instead of understanding the true user impacts.

Remember, system adoption and sustained behavior change dictate the return on investment you’re making in the system in the first place. This means you sometimes have to drive an overall change in strategy before you can implement the system. For example, you should drive an employee or manager self-service strategy and process change before you implement a self-service tool.

Best practice 3: A positive user experience – or lack thereof – determines the rate of adoption and behavior change for the different types of users in your system, such as employees, managers, etc.

Bottom line: System implementation projects are an important part of organizational change, and with a little planning, focus, and guidance, they can help set up your organization for success.

Betsy Winkler, PeopleResults