Assessing the success of a new system in real life
Now, 18 months into the rollout of the system we chose, we can talk about the learning process. We’re also eager to share takeaways that could be helpful for anyone tasked with choosing or implementing a new software system at work.
The first lesson we learned was to give ourselves time to master new terminology and procedures. Even though the new system matched our current workflow fairly closely, some elements were different.
The takeaway: Learning a new system will probably take longer than you imagined and require extra resources. You’ll need to be patient and determined to invest the time, especially since it will most likely not be billable.
Making It a Habit
Our second lesson was that new habits have to be reinforced. For about a year and a half we’ve been learning our system’s modules and getting staff up to speed. We are using the tool daily to identify and track tasks. Still, it can be a struggle to break old habits. We have to remind ourselves to enter information into the system to keep it current.
The takeaway: Unless a new system is used consistently, a “garbage in, garbage out” situation will occur and reports generated by the system will be meaningless. Be prepared to deal with ingrained habits and figure out how to motivate new ones.
We have also learned about the selection process, and more specifically what should occur before selection begins. If we had to do it again, we would have focused more on understanding our own processes and how we do business. Spending more time diagramming our workflows and pinpointing our specific needs would have been beneficial.
The takeaway: There’s work to do before you even start a selection process. Develop a crystal clear picture of your current needs; and if possible a sense of what your future needs might be.
A System and a Partner
We also learned that it’s important to get to know the system’s vendor. In essence, that vendor became a partner to our business. We did our homework but could have delved more into what the partner would be like to work with, where they saw their business heading and their philosophy around supporting clients.
The takeaway: Ask a lot of questions about system providers. What is their business plan for the next five or 10 years? Are they hoping to grow big and sell out fast? Can you assess how they provide support? Are they used to working with companies the same size as yours?
Changes and Charges
Finally, we’re learning that the system we purchased requires more customization than we thought it would. Features we’re looking for or changes we need to have made require extra time and expense. Beyond subscription costs, there are charges for reconfiguration and training.
The takeaway: When choosing a system, get a sense of extra expenditures involved and ask about the data you input into the system. If you were to end your relationship with the vendor, can you retrieve that valuable data?
Are you weighing a new project management system for your real estate development or improvement projects? We’d love to discuss how Real Projectives® can help. For more information on the services we offer clients, browse some of our other articles — or give us a call at 888.357.7342.