Implementing new construction management software can be a significant challenge. To ensure success, it’s important to fully understand your business objectives regarding the new software and develop a plan to meet those objectives. This article outlines some elements that are vital to getting your software up and running quickly and effectively. These guidelines and strategic planning suggestions before conversion can provide the framework for your implementation and give you control over the process.
Assemble Your Team
Your conversion team should resemble a pyramid of sorts. With a team leader at the top, followed by layers of support personnel with various levels of involvement, you will create a strong foundation for positive results.
Your in-house conversion lead is the primary contact between your company and your software vendor. This might be the company owner, CFO or controller. This person should play an integral role in using the new software and will be responsible for keeping your implementation on track.
Top Level Managers
The next layer of your team is comprised of the top-level managers. Some examples would be the controller (if he or she isn’t your conversion lead), chief project manager, equipment manager and service manager. These individuals will provide valuable input on what they need from the new software to most effectively perform their jobs.
Data Entry Staff
At the base of your pyramid is your data entry staff. During your conversion, it’s important to include this staff that will use the new software on a daily basis. You should discuss current processing procedures and identify ways that the new software can improve or streamline work flow.
In addition to these core groups, make sure you include other personnel at some level. This from-the-top-down approach to assembling your conversion team will effectively gain company-wide commitment and support for your implementation.
Assemble Your Team
If the software that you are currently using does not have a dashboard feature, there are numerous third party applications that will interface with most construction accounting software on the market. In fact, some can be so seamlessly integrated that they appear to be standard equipment.
Finally, it is worth noting that these dashboards and the decision making they facilitate are only as good as the data that is put in to the system by the end users. If garbage is put in to the system, garbage will come out. Therefore, as always, I stress the importance of thorough and frequent end-user training for all companies that use industry-specific construction software.
Get Software Vendor Assistance
The most knowledgeable source for conversion assistance is your software vendor. With hundreds or thousands of implementations under their belt, your vendor can provide invaluable guidance every step of the way.
If a conversion or implementation manager is available through your vendor, take advantage of his/her experience. Use vendor-supplied conversion checklists and do the legwork suggested to best prepare for your transition.
Resources offered by your vendor are worth the financial investment and will deliver a significant return on investment.
Create a Timeline
With your vendor’s assistance, create a detailed timeline for your implementation. List everything that needs to be done from start to finish. Brainstorm with your entire in-house team to gather additional to-do items. The more thorough your list, the greater your chances are for success.
It may help to designate general categories to organize your thoughts. Some examples include: Pre-Installation, During Installation, Data Conversion, and Training Topics. Hardware and software installation dates and are just a couple of specific timeline items for consideration.
Conversion is an excellent time to evaluate your current chart of accounts and cost codes, and to make changes if needed. Adding these items to your timeline will prompt you to review and revise them before it’s too late.
Develop your timeline in calendar format with hard dates or date ranges for each milestone. Assign a team member to each item, making sure your conversion leader checks in frequently.
As you create and complete your timeline items, it will be important to ask questions. Communicate with your vendor and conversion team by asking: Are we on track? Are there things to add to the timeline? What potential pitfalls or delays can we anticipate and avoid?