Here are the Top Five Obstacles during implementation:
- Indecision. Sometimes, a group of individuals just cannot make a decision. A simple question can send a committee into a debate lasting weeks or, in some cases, even months. Implementation hardly gets started.
Solution: Before you begin the implementation process, choose a Project Manager who can own the implementation and cast that final vote to make the decision and keep the process moving forward.
- Perfection. Because new software can do so many things, the group wants to make sure all decisions are absolutely perfect before moving forward. Implementation is put on hold.
Solution: Let’s face it, nothing is “perfect”—after all, aren’t we, by our very human nature, flawed? How many garages have burned down because it was just too cold to deep-fry the Thanksgiving turkey outside? Expect that during the implementation phase you’ll be learning as you go, that decisions made last Wednesday based on what you knew then may need to be adjusted down the line as you learn more. Consider it a Win-Win each time you learn something new.
- Overwhelming Task. Most of us look at the implementation of new software as a huge and overwhelming task. We don’t know how to begin. Implementation waits.
Solution: In David Allen’s book Getting Things Done, Mr. Allen advises us to break down a huge project into concrete tasks. So instead of “Implement New Software”, build a list of separate tasks or steps: 1) Define Project ID, 2) Define Cost Code List, 3) Build User List, etc. The key here is that each task should be an action item—a concrete step that will move the process forward—and each action item should take approx. 20 minutes or less to accomplish. That means if task #2 can’t be accomplished in 20 minutes, then you’ll need to break it into smaller action items. Also, don’t forget to delegate. Who is the best person to do the action item?
- Behind Schedule. There is a timeline, but everything keep falling further and further behind anyway. Implementation can just keep waiting.
Solution: When you build your timeline, expect delays. That’s not to say that your timeline should be so soft as to be meaningless, but you do have to consider that the company is still doing business and some emergencies will happen. The key here is to have short weekly meetings to assess where everyone and everything is. Ever notice how the night before a review meeting, everyone scrambles to complete their action items? Everyone needs to understand how his or her participation is affecting the timeline.
- All or Nothing. Is it better to move forward with all the basics and add the rest later or hold out until everything is completed? Again, it’s the 80-20 rule. Otherwise, implementation gets stuck reaching for 100%.
Solution: As with most things in life, the first 80% is the easiest and the last 20% is most difficult. And in today’s fast-changing world, it’s almost impossible to include “everything.” “Everything” changes day by day. Trust that you will use the flexibility of your software to grow and change your system as your company grows and changes.