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Spend Matters welcomes this sponsored article from Dave King, director of strategic accounts at The Shelby Group.
In my last post, I stressed the importance of planning and preparation before commencing a global implementation deployment. Now that you have a global rollout strategy, identified governance layers and team members and agreed to success metrics, you are ready to kickoff!
Software companies tend to come up with their own implementation methods and service organizations always find a way to put their spin on these methodologies, but when you strip all of the methodologies down, you have to execute five core phases: design, build, test, train and deploy. Understandably, each one of these core phases is extremely important and necessary to ensure successful execution of an implementation.
But I’d like to hone in and address three implementation components that I consistently see companies underestimate and undervalue, and in my opinion, bring an extremely high risk factor to an implementation if not executed successfully.
1. Project Management & Reporting
You’ve taken the time to set up a governance model. Now you must ensure that your project managers are given the tools to be successful.
First and foremost, develop a comprehensive project plan. I’ve yet to see a successful deployment without a project plan in place. Make sure all tasks, deliverables, dependencies, timings, levels of effort and, most importantly, accountability owners are clearly defined.
Develop a thorough status report that gives you the ability to identify overall progress, budget, risks, mitigation and milestones. Keep in mind, to ensure global consistency, get input from all global project managers when developing this report. Make sure it works for all countries. Also, you want one report that can be published to all layers of governance so be mindful of your audience. Highlight or bring forward the key points you want executives and sponsors to obtain at a glance.
Schedule regular meetings both at a project level and at an executive level. Figure out an appropriate frequency for the duration of the implementation, schedule recurring meetings, and stick to the meeting schedule. I would recommend inviting or mandating global stakeholders to attend. Even though their country(ies) may not be implementing at the time, they can listen and learn to better prepare for when it is their turn.
With so many moving pieces happening at once, consistent and thorough project management and reporting is imperative. Ensure your project plan is being updated and meetings are occurring regularly to keep a good pulse on the health of the implementation.
2. Change Management & Communication Strategy
Now that you have a detailed project plan, you can use the plan to align an overall change management and communication strategy. Responsible parties have been defined, dates for execution should be set and now a strategy can take shape.
I encourage organizations to facilitate a workshop to begin identifying:
- All parties that need to be communicated with over the duration of an engagement (end users, executives, suppliers)
- The type of communication that is required (email, phone, face-to-face, company website or forum)
- The content that will be included (progress, milestone completions, upcoming tasks, early successes)
- The responsible party for publishing the communication (project manager, sponsors, process owners)
Keep all parties appropriately in the loop. Leverage the project plan to develop your strategy. Global implementations typically require more planning around logistics due to factors such as time zones, flights and lodging. Provide stakeholders with early and frequent communication to avoid fire drills.
3. Operational Support Plan
Often companies wait until it’s too late to start formulating an ongoing support plan and they become stuck in an overwhelming reactive state. The earlier a company determines its support model, the earlier you can start preparing for life after “go-live” by being proactive and ready with resources, defined roles & responsibilities, and processes. Once your software is in place, it’s too late to begin implementing a support structure. Specifically, when it comes to global support, there are other complex factors that need to be considered, unlike a domestic rollout — factors like support hours, geographic location and language support.
If not before kickoff, then soon after, you need to start answering such questions as:
- Who is going to “own” the software after go-live?
- How many resources do we need, and when?
- Is support going to roll into an existing help desk model?
- What processes do we need to develop to ensure seamless support?
- How are users and suppliers going to be directed to support?
- How will support be tracked and reported?
- What service level agreements (SLA) are going to govern our support structure?
- Do we need to implement a governing body (executives, sponsors) to continuously monitor the health of the software, user adoption and compliance and general direction when it comes to upgrades, functionality changes and so on?
Also, the resources that are expected to support your new software need to be trained just like system administrators, end users and software champions. They need to understand the reasoning behind configuration decisions, processes and scope since they are ultimately now responsible for data, catalog and system maintenance and management. Ensure that these resources are included in all of the training plans you have identified for users. Consider having them participate in testing like user acceptance testing (UAT).
As I stated earlier, every phase during an implementation is critical and equally important. However, due to the added complexities of a global implementation, I’m specifically listening for these three particular topics to be addressed early on. If an implementation gets beyond the first few weeks and these three key areas aren’t being discussed, that’s an early warning sign for potential troubles to come.
Make sure you are addressing these areas early and frequently, and you’ll be on your way to executing a successful platform implementation!
The Shelby Group is a market leader in executing global implementations. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for your upcoming global platform deployment.