Yes, it is worth it, in the end!
Software integration is like pulling up the carpet in a fully furnished home, it is a challenge regardless of the transition length or size. Your new software company should have an integration plan with a carefully thought out schedule to discuss with you. A few examples of items to anticipate are:
- Gain remote access to the server
- Install database software
- Install Lumber/Trader Expert on server
- Overview meeting with staff
- Enter master data
- Detailed staff training
- Overview meeting with traders
- Training for traders/sales
In the interest of minimizing interruptions to your company, the following are several items to engage your staff in building a quality implementation plan:
As I mentioned in one of my previous blog posts, How to Choose the Right Software Company for you, employee engagement is a valuable tool during the decision process but you also have an incredible opportunity to engage staff during the implementation process and the effect will be better than you bargained for. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you about the rewards that team building and staff empowerment have on productivity.
So, how do you engage your employees in the implementation process? Anne Prins,
Director of Growth at Hot Air Blog says, “Evaluate each of them to determine which of the five groups they fall under”, see below: [i]
- Innovators – These are technology enthusiasts by nature, and they’re excited to dive in and figure out how the new software can improve their existing workflows. Engage & encourage these Innovators! They will be your champions of change.
- Early Adopters – Like innovators, these users will try new software faster than the majority. Getting buy-in from this group is critical because their opinions influence how the Early Majority feels about trying the new tool.
- Early Majority – This group is more practical in their approach to new software. The Early Majority typically waits until the software is vetted by others. They want to know how new software improves their existing workflow before they feel comfortable adopting it.
- Late Majority – These users will only adopt new software when they need to, or when it becomes unreasonable not to. The Late Majority will use the software once you’ve made it a concrete part of your business operations.
- Laggards – Laggards tend to use familiar technology and software as long as they possibly can. They’re often uncomfortable learning and using new tools. The only way to move this group may be to force them to use the new software by eliminating legacy options.
Create an understanding with your staff, engage them early and often, set specific goals and update staff with your timeline regularly. We all know who the decision makers are but your staff will certainly appreciate your efforts.
Training should be flexible and meet the needs of your company. Do you want individualized in-person or online training? Do you want instructor-led training classes? Do you want the software company to train a team of your employees on the processes so they can train the rest of your staff? There are options and it is up to you and the software company to navigate what the best option is for your company. It is important to show your employees how exciting this transition is, how useful the new software will be for them, and to set a fair but firm timeline.
Let’s set real and proper expectations here. Having a transition path doesn’t mean that you won’t have any hiccups while integrating. What it does mean is your new software should have utilities that will transition the information from your database(s), i.e. vendors, customers and general ledger accounts from your old software to your new software or, at least, have the ability to code one for you. This saves time in transition and helps to alleviate some of the stress.
With the ease of use, I see $avings! Who doesn’t like a stronger bottom line? If your new software is easy to use, it will likely be easy to learn, manage data entry errors, and increase productivity. The effect of this is seen in the strength of your team and, of course, your bottom line.
Taking your company through a software transition is stressful regardless of how much you prepare or how great the software company is. The best way to ensure the least amount of stress is by following the steps outlined above. Make sure to encourage employee engagement, know your needs, and build a viable plan for transition. If you follow these steps, your transition will be as stress-free as one can possibly be.
We find that one of the largest factors our customers consider is post-sale support, because with this type of purchase there will, without a doubt, be a need for it.
It is best to inquire with your prospective software company at the beginning of your search as to which types of support are offered, will these fit your needs, and which types of support the software developer will require you to have.
Below are just a few questions to ask yourself and your prospective software company regarding post-sale support.
- Will you designate someone in your office to get trained in the entire system to help manage future inquiries from staff? This can help alleviate redundant and possibly expensive calls to the software development team and allows for the expectation of due diligence from your employees.
- Will there be in-house training or will your training happen remotely? This is a question you should work closely with your software company to answer. In-house training is always the best option but could lead to additional, yet worthwhile costs.
- After the agreed upon personnel training is completed, will there be additional support available if needed? All credible software companies have thoroughly thought-out and developed training processes. Once standard training is complete and your company has gone “live”, there should always be options for additional support.
- How do they provide technical support? Software companies should always offer multiple options for technical support i.e. email, phone or website.
- Is technical support free or does it have to be paid for? This varies to a great extent from company to company, something to consider.
- What if you need to add additional users? Most software companies will likely charge to add additional users.
The truth is as consumers, we don’t know what we don’t know; the answer is to research & know your position. As always, feel free to give us a call 541.330.5483 or email us and ask any questions that come to mind.
Collaboration is one of the most unique things about RDB Solutions. Different parts of our team meet together regularly to discuss ways to not only better the company but to better our software. Lumber Expert was developed by our amazing Software Architect but it is improved upon by the collaborative generosity of our entire team and YES that includes our customers too.
You – our customers – enjoy a very unique opportunity, you get to collaborate with the very members of our team that make the changes you are looking for. What a great opportunity, right! Our job is to find the right solution for you. We do that best by keeping our team available and constantly listening to our customers and acting upon what they hear. We know we do our best work when we keep our focus on you.
Collaboration is an obvious business tool these days but – doing it well isn’t. RDB Solutions spends the time meeting with you and our team to ensure we are providing you with our very best.
We Deliver Collaboration – We listen to and support one another. At our foundation, we value working together. We believe in working together, to improve our business, to better support our customers.
Learn more about us by visiting our website or give Luke a call @ 541-330-5483 and tell him you heard about us here for a chance to save.