One of the most daunting parts of a software implementation is the first few months that you’re using it. At this point, there’s no guarantee of success even if you’ve done everything right up to this point. To make sure your investment pays off and not be burdened with trying to fix what might turn out to be irreparable problems in the future, take these steps during your initial use period:
Keep it simple and complete
First, make sure that the fields you decide to track and the data within those fields are simple and complete. Sometimes people try to overdo it and add way too many fields–perhaps even data that they haven’t tracked in the past but that they want to track in the future. This might be a natural reaction to having a shiny new database toy, but it’s unlikely that these 50 new fields are the core fields that you really need to track, nor are they usually the data you’ve been tracking to make yourself successful up to this point.
The result of over-adding fields, then, is twofold. First, pages with too many fields end up looking blank so users get frustrated working in a database that feels incomplete. Second, many of the reports and analytics that you might be able to run based on comprehensive data are not available so when users go to run those reports the reports are essentially meaningless. Also very frustrating.
So the key is to keep the initial configuration simple, focus on the core fields and the core data points you want to track and make sure that all of those fields are populated. Then when users log in for the first few times, the data is strong and it instills confidence in all of your users.
Tips to keep it simple and complete:
1. Start with simple data tracking
2. Keep configuration simple
3. Ensure all fields are populated
4. Stick to the core data points and fields
5. Always make sure there is confidence in your system
Provide the “why”
So often, users end up getting just the technical how-to training but are never told why this is important or how it will make the firm more efficient. So it’s really important both during training and implementation to talk to users about why changes are being made and what value the company is hoping to get from the system.
Unfortunately, the seemingly menial task of entering good data happens first and often over time. It’s only after that data is in the system that you get the gratification of finally running that one perfect report that tells you everything you never knew.
If users are shown the value of running a report like that and the value of inputting that data upfront, they’re more likely to see the benefits and more likely to be dedicated users.
During the training, it is important to follow these 3 steps:
1. Communicate with Users: Take the time to communicate the value of what you’re implementing and ask for feedback before, during, and after. Let users know why changes are being made and make sure they understand how they can provide input or help out. By letting your staff in on these details, they’ll feel more involved in a system that is designed for them – which will translate into better compliance with new procedures and information entered into the system.
2. Culture Change: Take the time to inform your employees on how their work will change and make sure they understand the benefits of these changes. Make it clear that compliance with new procedures is not just for their benefit but also for the companies as a whole.
3. Manage Expectations: Allow yourself some flexibility in implementing a new system so that you can incorporate feedback from your users and allow them time to adjust to their new environment without expecting too much at once.