At the moment, many nonprofit and human service organizations are deciding to ditch their archaic ERP and CRM technology for more robust solutions that are not only integrated, but offer powerful functionality designed specifically for their industry. With an exceptionally easy user experience for both executives and staff, this new technology lightens the load of numerous operational teams so they can get more done in less time, creating an opportunity to have an even greater impact on the people and communities they serve.
While there is no getting around the fact that deploying a new software solution is a major undertaking, the process doesn't have to be painful. With proper planning, execution, and the right team, implementing a new system should be a smooth process and quickly improve efficiency across your organization. To help you on your way, here are some critical implementation best practices to consider when deploying a solution.
Develop a Project Management Plan with clear goals and objectives.
There is no substitute for early and careful planning. In fact, not having a clear plan mapped out before diving into an implementation will likely result in costly delays. Your project management plan should define how the project is executed, monitored, controlled and closed, and you should begin this initiative by engaging in an analysis session with your chosen solution provider. In these sessions you should work alongside your solution provider to confirm your requirements and discuss solution options. By doing these two tasks simultaneously, you as a client will have a better idea of the total range of functionality available in the solution and can work with your provider to better tailor it to meet your specific needs.
Gain internal support and commitment through a structured communications plan.
Implementing a software system requires support and collaboration among all departments and processes within your organization. Ensure that any staff who will use the system understand why you are implementing it and how it will benefit them within their roles. Having a structured communications plan will support your project by: creating awareness, supporting project momentum, promoting collaboration, ensuring visibility, and building excitement; whereas not having full commitment may cause unnecessary setbacks, costing your organization precious time and money.
Allocate sufficient resources.
Software is an investment that requires a significant financial and managerial commitment. Before starting any implementation, make sure that your company has the staff resources in place to see the project through to completion. This may seem like an obvious point, but many companies begin deployment without resourcing it adequately, resulting in overworked, unhappy employees and a less-than-optimal installation.
Identifying a dedicated project leader and a team for your implementation will help ensure that the project goes smoothly. For team members, consider reassigning or removing some of their normal job duties so they have enough time to concentrate on the task at hand. Identify a team leader with strong project management skills who can facilitate team communication, address any issues that may arise, and isn;t afraid to put their foot down to keep the implementation on schedule.
Do not overlook the importance of training and adoption readiness.
Training is one of the most critical phases in your initiative, and a lack of full and active adoption is a common barrier to seeing immediate ROI. Consult with your vendor regarding the best training and support package for your business. Make certain they provide highly skilled consultants to train your employees on daily use of the software and offer on-going support. Training should typically begin at least 2 months before the system goes live, while refresher courses can be offered in regular intervals.
Keeping these best practices in mind will help you launch your deployment on the right track and keep it there throughout the entire process. Researching the best implementation option for your business, building consensus around the effort, setting realistic expectations, and giving your staff the support they need—these steps take more time, but they result in a more effective experience and a better-run organization in the long term.
Before implementing any solution, it's important to take it for a test drive to make sure it offers all of the features and functionality your organization needs. That's why we offer a free guided trial for our Finance & Accounting, Workforce Management, Case Management, and Donor Management solutions. Schedule yours today to start seeing how bright the future can be with new technology powering your processes.