Technology is part of your overall business strategy, or at least it should be. It's especially important in business decisions when a potential tech change is happening with a mission-critical application like a CRM system or document management platform. Successfully swapping out a technology that is vital to your day to day business requires a detailed plan of action because the execution of implementing a technology will determine the level of user adoption, productivity, how much value you get out of the tech, and how fast you realize that value.
As a software service vendor, we've learned a few things in our 15 years of delivering a cloud based document management service. We've seen some fantastic deployments, and some not-so-great transitions. We've boiled down some key points, and over the next five blog posts we'll share what we've learned.
We also have some great examples of firms who've done it well and shared their story. Take a look at this short write-up of how Koley Jessen P.C., L.L.O successfully moved their document management to the cloud, and why it was a success. Read it HERE
Step 1: Planning
While painfully obvious, it's important to point out the type and depth of planning needed to replace a core system, and especially if you're changing the platform or delivery model (e.g. moving from server-based software to a cloud platform).
Configuration Discussion – Regardless of the technology you're implementing, it's highly probably that there are numerous configuration options depending on your business, practice area, size of company, and complexity of the firm's overall technology landscape. It's absolutely vital that the discussion about how the technology will be configured takes place with all the major stakeholders. You certainly don't want someone making configuration decisions who won't actually use the technology on a daily basis.
Individual Variability and Workstation Configuration – Once there is a consensus for how the technology will be configured, there needs to be planning around the variables across individuals, departments and roles. Are workstations configured exactly the same across the firm? What third party software do people use? Are they all on the same operating system? Do they work remotely? What mobile devices do they use? These are all critical planning questions when assessing individual's first experience with the new technology.
Business Process Changes – Smart businesses leverage their technology in order to get more work done, improve the client experience, save money, or a number of other drivers. Regardless of the core motivation for implementing or replacing a technology, it's safe to assume that your business process is tied directly to the technology backbone of the firm. A business process change assessment becomes an integral part of the planning stage, as stakeholders from every area of the company need to assess the potential impact the technology will have in the day to day, monthly, quarterly, and annual processes required to run the business. This portion of the planning stage may also be an opportune time to refine or revisit current business processes and evaluate if there is a better way to work.
Implementation Logistics – Planning the implementation requires a realistic inventory of resources available for the project, including: people, time, budget, constraints, potential roadblocks, as well as outside resources or third party involvement. Available resources will help the project team set realistic milestones, benchmarks, and an estimated time frame for project completion.
Project Reporting and Accountability – The management and ongoing measurement is vital to the project's overall health. As part of the planning stage, it's important to put in place explicit rules for reporting, clearly defined areas of responsibility, and regular status meetings for progress and impediment reporting.
In summary, step one of implementing technology starts with planning, which is the framework and roadmap for a successful technology deployment. The next post will be on Step 2: Communication