Purchasing a new enterprise application is an important step your company can take toward becoming a better business. But like all new workplace initiatives, just because you build it doesn’t mean that they will come. To ensure that your enterprise software is adopted, used and (hopefully) seen as valuable across your organization, you need to set the stage in advance.
Here are seven tips to help your enterprise software implementation be a success.
Select a user-friendly software package.
If you want your employees to use the new system, and use it happily, you must first make sure that it won’t be an endless source of frustration for them. In the past, enterprise software vendors focused on developing powerful programs, but didn’t give much thought to the experience of the people using those programs. Fortunately, the tide has turned and many vendors are now providing interfaces for enterprise software that are just as user-friendly as the ones we are accustomed to for consumer software.
Get buy-in from the top.
One of the major stumbling blocks for enterprise software implementations is a lack of buy-in from executives and senior management. Before rolling out the new initiative, make sure that individuals at the top understand the purpose and the value of the software for the company. Once they become advocates, they can help set the tone so that using the new system won’t be perceived as just a new type of busywork.
Demonstrate the value of the software for individuals and departments.
If this is your organization’s first enterprise application, or a first one for employees in specific departments, launch a PR campaign to demonstrate how using the software will help people do their jobs better. The main purpose of adopting enterprise software is to increase efficiency and productivity, and employees who understand the relevance of the software to their own jobs will be much more likely to embrace it with open arms.
Develop a formal policy concerning the use of the application.
Who in your company should use your new software and for what purpose? What results do you expect will come of using the enterprise application? Develop a policy that covers the expected user behaviors, how those behaviors will be monitored, and how any unexpected or unacceptable behaviors will be handled. This is particularly important if you are implementing a software that collects any type of personal data from your customers, contacts or even employees.
Consider rolling out the implementation in waves.
If you have selected a complex, feature-heavy application, consider completing the implementation in phases rather than all at once. First get everyone up to speed on using the basic software, and then introduce the more advanced features and integrations.
Make it easy for your employees to start using the new software by providing plenty of training. Don’t expect people to just pick up how the application works on their own: hold seminars, create videos or even full online courses and have a place your employees can go for help. The more training you provide, the faster and smoother the implementation will be.
Evaluate the implementation regularly.
Don’t make the mistake of implementing a new enterprise application and then forgetting about it. Regularly evaluate the software on factors including whether or not it has achieved the expected results (e.g., increased productivity), how employees feel about using it, and what problems they have encountered along the way. This information will not only help you determine the value of your current investment, but also inform your software-buying decisions down the road.
Successful implementations of enterprise software basically boil down to two things: preparation and support. If you take the time to prepare your organization in advance, and provide the necessary support during the process, your implementation will be a success.
Sameer Bhatia is founder and CEO of ProProfs.