The truth is this much more than a Software deployment program. The decision to move into a SAAS platform is a commitment to transform the organization. The software will not only enable the transformation but is a bold statement of intent to your organization that the old way of working is no longer sustainable.
And this transformation will not happen overnight. If managed correctly, it is a gradual process that brings continuous improvement over time without overwhelming the organization.
At FieldCLIX, we've been through this journey with our clients many times, and have developed the following checklist of Critical Success Factors to set the stage for a successful Saas deployment and hopefully demystify the experience by providing a sense for what to expect as you make your way down the road:
1. Demonstrate commitment and engage your employees
2. Identify and empower the program manager
3. Stage the rollout in manageable bites
4. Set clear expectation for roles, and measure compliance
5. Train close as possible to going live
6. Pilot & Run Parallel to your existing systems
Demonstrate commitment and engage your employees
It's important that employees across the organization understand that leadership is fully aligned and committed, as well as what is expected of them.
Regular communications should take place during the implementation program, starting with an email, or preferably a town hall type event (in person or via phone) to lay out the timeline and goals for the implementation program, as well as the expectations for everyone's participation.
Offer an "open door" policy make it clear that you value their feedback. Many of the best ideas for enhancements and ways to successfully deploy the software will come from your employees. By engaging employees in the journey, their natural resistance will be replaced by enthusiasm for the new platform and help set the stage for the program's eventual success
Identify and empower the program manager
Your implementation project manager will play a critical role in planning and executing the project: herding cats if you want to get technical. As part of the initial communications, make it clear that they are empowered to gather data and schedule everyone's time for mission-critical activities, especially end-user training.
In some cases, this may be your Software partner, who often brings experience managing organizations through implementation projects. They will also need the backing of company leadership to help navigate the organization and get timely access to the data and other insights required to set up and configure the software platform.
Stage the rollout in manageable bites
All businesses are the same, and all businesses are different. When you're selling, you want to emphasize the latter: the quality of your team, your track record of delivering on time, the shiny new fleet, and test gear. When it comes to software implementation, the safe bet is to align with industry-standard processes.
There will be an organizational pull toward replicating the unique processes, estimating models, and tracking spreadsheets that have evolved over the years. These are the processes you've established and that your team is comfortable with. Some users will show up with a wishlist of exciting new features and processes. Others will see an opportunity to finally bring operational discipline by designing complex workflows to track activities down to a granular level.
Because of this, there is a risk of generating a large volume of requirements deemed necessary to be configured before the SAAS platform can be deployed. In extreme cases, this "analysis paralysis" will add unnecessary complexity and delays to a timely deployment of the new platform.
Just jump in the pool. The water doesn't change temperature, no matter how long you stare at it.
One of the keys to success along the transformation journey is getting to the start. Staging the deployment into small, manageable steps will get you past the starting line while also minimizing the deployment risks. Many assumptions about the need for certain features will fade away, and new ideas and paths forward will open up as the organization grows into the tool.
A gradual rollout can also help control the pace at which an organization is required to adapt to change while also managing their day-to-day responsibilities. Over time, as a deployment and training cadence is established, new features can be rolled out as seamlessly as a new Chris Rock special on Netflix.
Set clear expectations for roles and measure compliance
Remember the time you were forced to switch hotel rooms in the middle of a business trip? Even though they offered an upgrade to a suite with a fruit basket and balcony overlooking the pool, it was still more of an aggravation. At least, that's how it felt.
People will embrace change, but not before resisting it. That's just human nature.
When deploying a new software platform, end-user compliance can have a significant effect on achieving the projected benefits. Your time-to-benefit can be accelerated through clearly defined business policies and expectations for individual roles.
Project Managers will have access to enhanced operational tools – such as scheduling calendars, budgeting interfaces, and streamlined material ordering – to help plan and manage risk, which means an investment in time up front pays off with improved crew deployments and less time spent firefighting.
Field Crews will spend more time working from the mobile app, which can support timekeeping, insights into their schedules, work order details, expense management, and photo checklists. The adoption process is typically painless as they are generally grateful to have access to the information and only need to be reminded to keep their phones accessible and charged.
The Finance team will spend more time in the new platform, managing financial processes, and generating executive dashboards and reports. This represents a shift from relying solely on the accounting platform to do their job; in some cases, they will be moving between applications, but the payoff is the ability to generate more insightful reports with less manual data manipulation and access to a much broader set of client data required to support efficient Client invoicing and Vendor payments.
IT's role will change, with a focus on managing the creation of new users, configuring laptops and phones, and in some cases, keeping track of company-owned assets.
Most SAAS platforms will provide reports to help monitor compliance and identify those users who may need an extra nudge now and then to align with the new mode of operation. The ability to track operational metrics also creates an opportunity to give incentives and reward employees for positive results. Lastly, encouraging your early adopters to help pull others along into proper use of the platform will also help overall compliance.