Implementing software can be a daunting task that scares people away from even thinking about using a project management application. But take it from us, project management software has many benefits and will increase your efficiency in ways you didn’t know were possible. But, before we go on about the wonders of project management software, let’s tackle the scary monster called implementation.
Lots of you are searching for an application, or have selected an app but dread the set up. Either way, the following steps will help you get organized and get started with as little pain as possible.
Step 1. Organize Your Workflow
If you read our post about selecting project management software, you’ll know that organizing your workflow is one of the most important steps in preparing to select and implement project management software. Now this may be a task in itself if you do not have an organized production process in place. Even if you don’t end up purchasing software, organizing your workflow will do you wonders. So, hash out your process, and define the way you work. Then prioritize the features you need based on holes in your workflow. Select an app that helps you implement implement your workflow and plug the holes.
Step 2. Set Realistic Goals and Share Them With Your Team
Once you’ve found software that fits your team, you’ll want to start setting some goals. Are you trying to improve time management? Do details slip through the cracks? Need more complete job request forms? Do you need to reduce the number of revisions needed? Set some goals, but make sure they’re realistic. Share them with your team to make sure they are on board and understand why you’re implementing new software. People don’t like change so you will hear some moaning and groaning, but get the team involved with goal setting and they will have better buy-in.
Remember, you can’t expect every problem to magically disappear the second you start using software. But, if you outline what you want to accomplish with the software and get your team involved, you’ll start checking things off your list and improving your efficiency in no time.
Step 3. Set Expectations For Your Team
Team involvement in goal setting and planning will lay the foundation for success, but you will still have some who believe the old way is better. This is where your leadership becomes critical. Set the expectation that this is the new way we are working. Don’t allow some to use the old excel spreadsheet because they think it is easier. You have the big picture in mind, and you will not achieve your goals if everyone continues to do their own thing.
Creative people resist structure, but they are also great team members and are used to working together. Set the expectation that this is the way your team will work together from now on. Some argued that email would just cause more work. Now we could not survive without email. The same thing will happen with a project management application that is implemented properly. Eventually, the team will not be able to live without it.
Step 4. Appoint a Tech Savvy Champion
Every team has one person who has an affinity for technology. Bring this person in early and make them a champion. Ask them to help define the workflow, prioritize features, and set goals. Invite them to the early demos and include them in the decision making process so they are involved from the get go. They should completely understand how and why you’re using the software.
Your Champion will quickly become an advocate, supporter, and a trainer when the time comes. The rest of your team will look to them for guidance and affirmation that the software works, and they can also help you answer tough questions from the pessimists. An internal champion will be helpful in more ways than one.
Step 5. Train Your Team
Here comes the fun part! If you’ve followed steps 1-4, training should be a piece of cake. Resist the urge to set up the software and cut your team loose. Although training is time consuming and seems daunting, you have your inside champion and a good vendor to help.
Start by scheduling a conference room and a projector. Get the team around a table and project the new app on a large monitor. Walk them through the application and demo how your workflow will be implemented with the software. A group discussion will help talk through issues and identify solutions. Focus on what the team needs to do to get started to avoid confusion. No need to explain every tiny feature of the app.
As you use the software, the group will have more questions. Write them down and have a follow up training session with the vendor. Your list and the answers identified can become an FAQ doc for future users.
Following the steps above will help ensure a successful implementation. There is nothing worse than spending a bunch of time to select an app that no one uses. So take some time to get your workflow organized, set goals and expectations, and develop a plan for training. This may take a little more effort in the beginning, but it will pay off big time in the long run.