There are many hurdles you will need to overcome to implement new project management software effectively. Here are some of the most common mistakes that I’ve seen companies make when they implement a process management system.
Rolling out new process management software can be an exciting and challenging task. Ultimately such software exists to increase productivity by making everyone more efficient. With the acquisition of any new software comes a level of pressure as to whether you are choosing the right software for your business. Once you settle on a solution, you want to make sure you get the most out of the time and money spent getting it implemented. Avoiding the mistakes in this article cannot guarantee the successful rollout of your software, but they should help make it run as smoothly as possible.
Mistake 1: Not involving key players in the conversation.
When analyzing a process, it is important to speak to as many involved members as possible. Individuals at one stage of the process may not realize exactly what happens at another stage of the process. It is not uncommon for a process stage to have sub-processes that require completion before the main process can progress. Meaning someone in stage 3 of the process complains that stage 2 takes so long, but does not realize that stage 2 is actually divided into stages 2a, 2b, 2c, and 2d.
Naturally if only someone from stage 3 is involved in the assessment process, they do not get the full scope of what happens in stage 2. Conversely, if only someone from stage 2 is involved in the conversation, they may give suggestions to optimize their own stage and its subprocesses, but do nothing to improve the rest of the process.
Getting input from stakeholders in the process, also prevents shock when the new software is rolled out. It lets them know changes are coming and gives them a chance to provide some input. Springing a new software on users without a heads up can leave them feeling blindsided and frustrated with a software that is actually designed to improve their processes. This can lead to a slow, if not completely failed, adoption of the software.
With the multitude of perspectives, you are sure to speak with people who are opposed to the proposed changes. Do not just write off their concerns. They may just be opposed to change, but they may also see an issue that has been overlooked. Listen to their thoughts and incorporate their suggestions if possible. If you cannot, then at least be prepared to explain why you have chosen to implement the way you have.
Nothing will kill the adoption of a new solution faster than users thinking the old method was better. Some of the pushback can be attributed to human nature as we are creatures of habit and replacing an old process with a new one will likely require changing those habits. However, other opposition can often come from the perspective of a user who only sees their step of a process. Their stage of the old process may have originally been easier, but under the new process they are being asked to do a bit more work at this stage to prevent people in later stages from having to come back with questions.
So, if it is feasible, get as many perspectives as possible when configuring a new process management software.
Mistake 2: Neglecting to train employees to use the software.
Earlier it was mentioned that if users find the old process superior to the new solution it will stop the software’s adoption in its tracks. The second surefire way to stunt the rollout is to give your employees the new software without teaching them how to use it. Keep in mind that you have likely spent weeks on this project and presumably some time with the software before the bulk of your users have been able to get their hands on it. What may seem obvious to you might need to be explained to the users.
Poor training can lead to the users disliking the software from the start. Unfortunately, a bad first impression can be hard to reverse, and it may be silly to say, but that negative opinion can spread through the office. Even worse, down the road it can influence a new employee’s opinions of the product before they get a chance to form an opinion of their own. In order to avoid that scenario, it is a good idea to give a broad overview of what the software can do, but then focus more closely on the parts that pertain to the users’ day to day tasks.
One of the tricky parts of training is that everyone learns differently. Some people can be handed a set of instructions and they are fine. Others need a demonstration of the software in action. While the more hands on types prefer to be guided while performing a task themselves in order to get a feel for the software.
Another important thing to remember is that training will need to continue after the software has been rolled out. There will inevitably be new team members or employees who change roles. As roles change, the users may need to be trained to use additional features in the software to match their new responsibilities. New employees will also need to be trained to operate the software as they settle into their positions.
Mistake 3: Failing to recognize a project’s scope creep.
Another danger that can rear its head during any project is scope creep. Implementing project management software is not immune to this phenomenon. The scope of a project refers to the work needed to finish the project, so scope creep refers to shifting or growing requirements after the project has started causing the endpoint to creep away. If left unchecked it can cause project delays that result in missed deadlines. I have experienced this recently on a project. Each time we are close to finishing another team member is introduced and with them seems to come a list of changes, or additions that extend the project.
Another form of scope creep happens when you see the full features of the project management software that you purchased. It is common to purchase a software solution for one department, and while you are setting it up, you imagine the potential benefits it could bring to other departments in the organization.
As a project manager, it is important to recognize scope creep and decide whether it is necessary for the current project or moved to a later phase. Moving that new addition into another phase, allows you and your team to stay focused on the current project knowing that the creeping scope will be addressed in a later phase.
This all comes down to having good communication that will get you a long way towards a successful project rollout. Communicate with the people involved to identify what you need the project management software to do. Organize the list starting with things you must have, followed by things that would be helpful to have, and finally things that would just be icing on the cake. Having that list handy will help you in your research to find your company’s ideal project management system. Scope the project out so you have a good idea of what needs to be done. Communicate responsibilities to those involved in the software rollout to keep things in scope and on schedule. Include generating training materials as part of the scope. These can be documents with steps on how-to perform tasks in the software, or video recordings of the software in use. Make sure you feel comfortable with the software, as it is likely you or someone on the rollout team will be looked to for answers when users have questions. Keeping the above information in mind can help ensure the adoption of your new project management software will go as smoothly as possible.