Advice On IT Implementations


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Advice on implementing a new IT system; from practical experience.

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Advice On IT Implementations

  1. 1. Advice on IT Implementations A Guide for Large & Small Businesses Walsh Enterprises Business Advisors Huntington Beach, Ca Al Walsh CEO Business consultant
  2. 2. Advice on IT Implementations <ul><li>There are a wide variety of increasingly powerful IT systems available on the market. </li></ul><ul><li>Proper selection and implementation can do wonders for a business. A botched job can bring a business to a screeching halt in quick order. </li></ul><ul><li>Here I address often-missing fundamentals of how to achieve the desired results. </li></ul><ul><li>Al Walsh </li></ul>
  3. 3. Advice on IT Implementations <ul><li>I’ve been involved with IT implementations for 30 years, in a variety of leadership and participatory roles. I’ve seen how it’s done right, and how to botch it. Here are the reasons why it usually goes wrong. </li></ul><ul><li>The system is selected in a vacuum – Far too often, selection of the system is done by one person, or a small group, without input from the end-users who have to make it work. </li></ul><ul><li>The system is “dropped” on the staff for implementation and use without proper training or support - Software companies are interested in sales. They’ll provide the minimum level of support to get the system up & running, and then they’ll walk away. Follow-on support will come at a high price, and will be of limited value because they don’t understand your business. No system is a perfect fit, and you’ll undoubtedly want revisions. Good luck trying to get them, unless you have lots of money to throw at the software provider. </li></ul><ul><li>The staff is not properly educated as to the purpose of the exercise - You’re implementing a new system either because you don’t have one or because you need a new one to provide features that your current system doesn’t provide. If your staff doesn’t understand the goals from a business standpoint, how can they ensure that the implementation accomplishes them? </li></ul><ul><li>An arbitrary implementation time-schedule is applied that doesn’t account for learning curve experiences or “culture shock” – In the worst-case scenario, someone will arbitrarily decide to turn off the old system before the new system, and the people who run it, are ready. </li></ul><ul><li>Staff don’t have “ownership” of the process – If the implementation is thrust on staff with little training or participatory input, they won’t feel any sense of personal ownership and the results will be less than ideal. </li></ul>
  4. 4. <ul><li>Problems usually occur because there isn’t adequate intellectual control of the process. </li></ul><ul><li>I always recommend that there be a manager designated as overall facilitator – This person should be a manager of the company who understands the business, or a skilled consultant. They should not be from your IT group (If you have one. They have their own challenges and perspective) . They should be relieved of other responsibilities while filling this role, if possible. Their role includes: </li></ul><ul><li>Overall management of the selection & implementation </li></ul><ul><li>“ Ambassador” and interface in dealing with the software provider </li></ul><ul><li>Interface between the internal & external technical people and the end-users </li></ul><ul><li>Training facilitator, motivator, and “hand-holder” </li></ul><ul><li>General problem-solving overseer. </li></ul><ul><li>Follow-on authority to ensure that the desired goals were accomplished </li></ul><ul><li>This facilitator should: </li></ul><ul><li>Ensure that the selection process includes input from hands-on representatives of the functions who will be implementing and using the system. Also ensure that the software contract contains appropriate provisions regarding initial & follow-on support, warranty coverage, and provisions for software revisions. </li></ul><ul><li>Provide training to the affected managers as to the overall goals of the implementation (From a business standpoint as opposed to a technical one. Why is the system being implemented? - New features. Desired results. ), and then ensure that an appropriate level of similar training is provided to staff. </li></ul><ul><li>Receive initial training, along with the managers of the implementing functions. </li></ul><ul><li>Oversee 2 nd tier training of the hands-on staff who will be performing the implementation. </li></ul><ul><li>Oversee the implementation and results - holding the software provider to their commitments, coordinating the technical & user efforts, adjusting as necessary to allow for the unforeseen, ensuring that needed resources are available, auditing the results, and ensuring that the existing system isn’t turned off until the appropriate time. </li></ul>Advice on IT Implementations
  5. 5. Advice on IT Implementations <ul><li>I’ve only touched briefly on the critical elements that are required for a successful implementation, but I’ve tried to hit on the key points. </li></ul><ul><li>I’ve performed the facilitator role in past, as employee and consultant, and can attest that it makes a huge difference in obtaining a successful outcome. </li></ul><ul><li>Short-cut the process and you will likely wind up with: </li></ul><ul><li>An inadequate or inappropriate system </li></ul><ul><li>Garbage-In, Garbage-Out (What you system does for you is only as good as the quality & timeliness of the data you feed it) </li></ul><ul><li>Excessive time and resource consumption </li></ul><ul><li>Frustrated staff </li></ul><ul><li>Undesirable results </li></ul><ul><li>In the worst case - Chaos! (As a young executive, I watched a global conglomerate drive itself to gridlock with a badly-planned, rushed implementation). </li></ul><ul><li>Regardless of the size or complexity of the system, I strongly suggest that you observe this process to ensure desired results. </li></ul>