This Is Why Software Implementations Fail

For institutional investors, implementing new software, just like moving to a new house, can be overwhelming. You have precious possessions (in this case, data) that need to be relocated. Just thinking about sorting, decluttering, and getting rid of data that no longer serves your organization can be very intimidating. You therefore have two goals. The first is to implement and migrate your data as painlessly as possible. The second is for your team to get comfortable with the software and drive its adoption. 

Having an experienced partner who can guide you and share best practices at every step of the implementation and migration process is a very good place to start. With 13,500 hours spent each year for the past 20 years on software implementation, we have been around the block and have lived through all the reasons why people fail. There are seven of them. 

1. Failure to Set the Vision 

Great outcomes are the direct result of a clear vision. Omitting communicating that vision to your organization and setting the stage by getting everybody onboard and engaged is a fail before the start. The intersection between your software needs, your processes, and your people begins here. During the kick-off and discovery phase of software implementation, you need to work closely with your vendor to define what success looks like in terms of the improvements and changes to your software, your processes, and your people.  

2. Failure to Be Clear about Expectations 

Next, you and your vendor should discuss expectations to avoid any misunderstandings or unspoken assumptions. This step is often neglected, which could significantly delay or complicate your implementation. For example, you might expect your vendor to handle data extraction and your vendor might expect you to address change management to optimize adoption of the system. All expectations should be voiced and reviewed so that a final set of expectations can be agreed upon by all parties.  

3. Failure to Dedicate Resources 

Your vendor is going to be pouring resources into your software implementation – but they need help from you as well. Not assembling a team of dedicated resources to work closely with your vendor will misfire. Without defined roles and responsibilities, miscommunication and confusion can occur, causing avoidable delays. The team should include executive representation, technical or process experts, and one or more project champions who can help drive change internally, answer questions, and encourage adoption during the implementation.  

4. Failure to Own Your Data  

Your data is at the center of your software implementation. You want to be intimately involved with how that data is managed at every step. During the setup and configuration phase of implementation, failure to discuss how you would like to configure your data in the new system to accomplish your business requirements can lead to disappointments. Then, during data migration, even if your vendor is doing the “heavy lift” for you, be sure to stay closely connected so that you understand how your data is being mapped, cleaned, collected, reviewed, migrated, and reconciled. 

5. Failure to Engage in Training  

Your vendor should provide a full spectrum of training options before launch and continuing post-launch. Training events, workshops, webinars, instructional videos, and product guides all play their role. But the star of the show is you, the client. Vendor-provided training will be most effective when you and your employees fully engage with it. For instance, consider having a project champion act as a co-presenter at a training event, provide questions and feedback in between trainings, and define metrics to track adoption.  

6. Failure to Drive Change Management  

While your vendor is the expert on the new system, you are the expert on your people. For that reason, change management will be one of your primary tasks throughout implementation to encourage adoption. This cannot be repeated enough. Executive sponsorship, project champions, clear and continual communication, helping employees move through the phases of change, etc. are all vital to get the best out of your new software and therefore the best out of your business.  

7. Failure to Party

Yes, you read that right. You need to party – celebrate each milestone and the successful implementation together. Review your goals and look at how they have been actualized. Highlight accomplishments and early wins on the platform. Showcase user feedback that demonstrates the benefits employees are seeing in their day-to-day activities. After all the great collaborative work you have done with your vendor, it is satisfying and fulfilling to congratulate one another on a job well done! 

Of course, all these failures are easily avoidable with early planning and attentive project management. Keeping your software implementation on track for success is a team effort.  Once you have settled into your ‘new home,’ throw a ‘house-warming’ party to celebrate! You are entering an exciting new collaborative phase with your vendor. Your team and your vendor have partnered together to ensure that your new system continues to support the evolving needs of your business, helping your organization to thrive! Learn more about Backstop’s Implementation and Migration Services by downloading the data sheet.

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