Five Steps to Successful Enterprise Software Adoption
By Kimble CMO Mark Robinson
Recent research indicates that success rates for enterprise software adoption may be improving, but business leaders still have reason to worry about the risk of failure. Many leaders have the personal experience of IT projects that didn’t achieve their objectives. Sometimes this is because the wrong system was procured, but a disappointing outcome also often unfolds when the organization doesn’t take advantage of the new software’s capabilities.
We see marked differences in the techniques that the most and least effective organizations use when onboarding new software. Some organizations focus on moving what they already do to a cloud-based application. Others take advantage of the opportunity to streamline processes and drive new behaviors that increase efficiency and scalability. It is the latter group who see benefits most swiftly.
A great example of a successful implementation is the award-winning IT consultancy Kainos, who took a strategic approach to adopting enterprise software specific to their industry five years ago — and have tripled in size since. Like other organizations that get this right, they have experienced growth far above the industry average.
Working with a wide range of medium to large international businesses, we have identified some of the strategies we see the most successful businesses employ when implementing enterprise software. Here are five steps to success.
1. Get leadership buy-in.
In companies that successfully deploy enterprise software, the senior management team is united and strongly committed to the project. They don’t just make the decision and then pass it down to more junior people to implement — they continue to give enthusiastic sponsorship. They adapt immediately to the new software themselves, exploiting opportunities it creates to deliver better against their own objectives.
2. Set a realistic timetable.
Usually, there is a determination to deliver key capabilities in 2–3 months from inception, then hone details later. There is a readiness to get moving, without holding things up until every aspect of the software adoption is finalized. The business then monitors adoption metrics to track progress and reviews further phases.
3. Choose strong “champions.”
Experienced and senior staff members in each department are given time to master the software, attending workshops and planning sessions. They understand why things are being done this way and can explain the benefits to others. They are not then pulled off the implementation project a couple of weeks in because another priority surfaces.
4. Employ a disciplined approach.
In every organization, there are likely to be individuals who, for a variety of reasons, may struggle with adapting to change. There may also be general resistance to the effort involved in doing things differently. Businesses which take a disciplined approach to this disseminate a clear and consistent message. First, champions explain the “what’s in it for me” benefit for each role, focusing on how the time and energy that is gained from streamlining processes can be better utilized. Second, business leaders approach individuals who don’t comply with new ways of working to personally explain the importance of the change.
5. Have a readiness to improve.
Everyone is prepared to take a fresh look at how the business operates. They ask whether working a particular way really supports the desired business outcomes. They ask whether these ways of working are fit for the future — do they accommodate planned growth? In contrast, some organizations are set up to be “good enough” and are not focused on growth. These kinds of companies may struggle to get much benefit from enterprise software. Current practices may have been the best that could be achieved at one time — but new technology creates new opportunities. Getting to the benefit requires using them in the best way for your business.
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