How to Assemble a Killer Software Implementation Team
So, your company just decided to purchase an exciting new software.
You’ve marked your deadlines, set your objectives and approved the budget. Wonderful! You are well on your way to a great software implementation.
However, circumstances and logistics aside, getting the right group of people involved is arguably the most important part of any implementation. Planning this project means embarking on a journey. You’ll want to have a strong software implementation team with you to ensure long-term success.
As a professionally-trained implementation analyst and self-proclaimed user experience guru, I have had a hand in more software implementations than I can even begin to recall. Every single one of them has been a unique experience.
But despite the differences, there is one thing that remains true for all of them: Software implementation requires a dynamic, excited, and dedicated team.
Who are the must-have cast of characters? It depends on the project, but having the following people on board is a surefire way to create a successful software implementation process.
The Software Expert/Subject Matter Expert
This person knows the product and your business needs inside and out. They are the technical resource that understands the link between the business and the software and how to best integrate the two.
Subject matter experts (SMEs), since they are so well-versed in the product, are also sometimes trainers. They are a great ally to have when implementing something new because they have knowledge on all the nooks and crannies of your new system that will help you truly maximize its potential.
Best questions for the software expert/subject matter expert
- What are the most important features the users need to know about this software or new platform?
- Are there any known errors, bugs or new releases that we might encounter?
- Do you have a staging environment where we can test our implementation?
- What is the best way to announce the software to our users?
These SMEs are product professionals, their time and expertise is extremely valuable. They are also the go-to for all of your lingering questions about your product and the software you are implementing. Don’t be afraid to ask them anything, they are there to help drive your success.
The Developer/IT Person
Where the SME has more business-oriented knowledge of the product, the developer knows the back-end technical information that is necessary for software integration.
Their degree of involvement depends on the complexity and security needs of your internal system, as well as the level of software compliance. Sometimes the integration is straightforward and involves just a simple modification of code. But when it’s not, it’s helpful to have a developer involved who is ready to jump if complications should arise.
Best questions for the developer/IT person
- What is the best way to integrate the new software with our current applications?
- Are there any security risks?
- What is the protocol for testing the software with our systems?
The User Experience Designer
This is the exciting part of the implementation because the user experience designer (or designers) is the one optimizing the software to create a beautiful end-user experience. They create the look and feel of your system, not only for the sake of aesthetics, but to facilitate meaningful interaction between users and software.
When implementing software, you want it to look like it belongs with what you already have. Something like matching the colors and logos seems trivial compared to getting the software to actually function. But, UX is an integral part of user adoption that converts new users into advocates who are excited to use the product.
Best questions for the user experience designer
- What are our branding and style guidelines?
- How can we introduce updates and releases to our users?
- Does the new software have a visual or stylistic integration with our current system?
The Strategy Team
This is where collaboration between your company and the vendor is the most critical. The strategy team includes several individuals who work together to plan the logistics of the implementation.
Typically, this team is made up of a customer success manager from the vendor side and some combination of a project manager, product manager and digital adoption expert from the company side.
It is also helpful to have upper-level management involved in planning the implementation strategy. Their positive support and big picture perspective on the project is helpful when you need someone to advocate for its success. It is really refreshing and validating to get an OK from management quickly and seamlessly.
Best questions for the strategy team
- What are the business objectives and key performance indicators (KPIs)?
- What are the long and short-term goals for this implementation?
- What are the timelines for release?
The End Users/Test Group
This is arguably the most important part of the software implementation team. These are the people who will actually be using the software and their opinions are extremely important for a successful implementation. Ask them for feedback as you go and form test groups to work out any kinks.
While you can engage in as much quality assurance with the product as you want, these individuals engage in user acceptance testing and give a real end-user perspective on how people will be using the product. Trust their opinions and their honesty to help you build a better experience with the software implementation.
You want the end users to be on your side!
Best questions for the end users/test group
- What about this software do you like and/or dislike?
- Are there any features you wish the software were addressing?
- How do you see this new application helping with your daily productivity?
Every implementation is unique, but making sure that you have an a skilled and excited software implementation team on your side will skyrocket your success.