While you may have experience with software selection projects for your organization, here are three tips to help you take the process from good to great.
- Connect and communicate beyond the vendor sales team. How many times have you established a great rapport with a vendor salesperson? How much time have you spent transferring knowledge about your business in order to ensure a good product fit? Chances are your sales rep will know a lot about your needs and how to make their product work for you. But once the contract is signed, you will be working most directly with the vendor’s implementation and customer service team. It is important to learn about this team prior to making your decision, and understand how the knowledge transfer from sales will take place. For example, if your agreement includes any custom tweaks to make the software work for you, ask to speak to the lead developer who will be responsible for the changes. Ask this person about their internal process including requirements verification, prioritization, timelines, how they spec the work and testing. You’ll be much better prepared for the transition, and will benefit from connecting with this resource early in the process.
- Manage your selection timeline. Software selection is a project that should involve key leaders, users, vendors and your IT team. Use a standard communication tool such as a brief ‘Project at a Glance’ to continuously tie work back to a timeline. Not only will others stay more engaged in the project, you’ll be able to ensure that both internal and external resources are aware of their roles in the process and their respective deadlines.
- Use internal communications to promote user adoption. Change management is critical to a successful software implementation. Ask your marketing or corporate communications department to help you communicate the top three reasons the change is taking place and how it benefits the organization and employees. Change is difficult and sometimes frustrating. It helps tremendously to remind employees why they are making a change and to emphasize the positive outcomes. Otherwise, it is all too easy for users to think and react negatively. Enlist your CEO and other influencers to participate in this process.