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The hidden value of software implementation
Steer clear of common and costly delays with experienced implementation agents
So you’ve made the decision to add spend management software. Congratulations, it’s a major milestone! You’ve begun your research to find the right software that fits or can be tailored to your company. You’re probably creating an internal team tasked to vet and award the winning software provider. You may have even brought in software partners to weigh in and provide guidance.
Now, you’re assembling your spend management software implementation team right? No? You wouldn’t be alone. We’ve found that around 70% of companies front load a team effort for the selection process, but fail to commit a similar number of resources to see the selected software through to implementation and beyond. This can impact the project implementation on the road to the go live date for your software solution—namely, hitting common roadblocks caused by decision makers de-vesting from the process too early.
Navigating a successful implementation is every bit as major an investment as selecting the right software. Yet, implementation is often overlooked or undervalued and this causes a large majority of companies to not consider it as the critical driver for software success it is.
When approaching any systems integration project it is important to factor decision-makers at every level as organizational change management is critical to project success. You want to have dedicated project owners who are committed to project success, championing work through logistical challenges and also helping to keep the rest of the team apprised and on-board with the initiative.
Tactically speaking however, the greatest challenge will be in the implementation itself. Existing systems and processes need to be mapped to take advantage of the new software capabilities and configuration limitations need to be overcome. This is where having a consultative implementation specialist on board is really going to reap huge rewards.
Today, we’re going to look at the importance of having a knowledgeable and committed implementation team speaking from our position as a software vendor implementation team. There are three primary ways to handle spend management software implementation.
Let’s take a quick look at the main options for implementation.
1. DIY: Implement the software using internal resources
This can be the least expensive option, depending on the complexity of your software selection and your company’s internal brain trust. In some cases this can be a hybrid of a Do It Yourself with assistance from a software partner. But, it’s also the most likely option to fail. Also, many organizations fail to truly account for the implementation cost when assigning in-house resources, which can drive the true cost even higher.
2. 3rd Party Implementations
This options can vary on expense and success rate depending on how knowledgeable the 3rd party is of both your organization’s specific needs and success criteria, and the capabilities of the selected software.
3. Software Vendor Implementations
While this option can vary on the expense scale, we’ve found that organizations who work closely with the implementation consultants for the selected software have the highest success rate and the smoothest deployment of all the organizations surveyed. In our experience, it also works when you have a 3rd party implementation team working in conjunction with the software team. It can greatly increase project success. It brings together each respective expertise and when managed correctly can create clear channels for communication to ensure a smooth implementation.
An ounce of planning saves a pound in problems
We’re going to explore a successful implementation with Lil’wat Nation. Their organization made great efforts to create a culture of financial accountability. The goal was to protect their Nation’s assets today and for future generations.
Lil’wat Nation needed to implement a spend management solution, and like most companies, had unique needs and goals in mind before the project even started. Some of these they understood well, but they were missing key components like how best to use the selected software solution to maximize their investment, and how best to avoid running into issues during implementation and in the future. They balanced the experience and knowledge of an Implementation Consultant to work closely with their change management team to maximize the benefits of key components and tailor the solution to meet their needs.
“Our biggest concern was the sheer scope of our internal processes change and whether [the software chosen] could be what we needed it to be. How it would ultimately fit our organization was a big unknown. At the time I was a little apprehensive.” Neil McInnes, Director of Finance for Lil’wat Nation “Let me start with the fact that we were making some big changes. Implementing software… by itself may seem daunting. Now, add to that the challenges of updating internal processes that lined up with policy and you might have the makings of a perfect storm.”
Lil’wat understood the implementation would be complex and had reached out to a software partner to help them find the right solution. From there, they realized it was critical to properly implement their spend management solution. In the end, they chose to have the Fraxion Implementation Consultants manage the project.
“We had some hiccups along the way and I really came to rely on our implementation consultant to provide insights on how best to leverage the capabilities of the system. In the end, we as an organization reached our goals and [our software Implementation Consultant] has been with us the entire way.”
Precision planning helps organizations avoid forcing new processes on existing systems; this is where an experienced consultant is of great importance to project success. Assessing critical structures, establishing and prioritizing internal needs, and approaching the implementation project with best practices in mind are all part of the consultant relationship.
Combining the respective knowledge and deep understanding of both the product consultant and the organization’s project team increases the likelihood of avoiding major issues during the implementation process. The ability to foresee project blind spots or, known areas of concern, enables both sides to plan accordingly and address issues before they are encountered. It also provides a solid basis for smooth projects down the road like upgrades, updates or module/software add-ons.
It has been our experience that having a dedicated conduit for product knowledge and organizational understanding provides additional benefits that can be measured in savings of time and potential challenges, including:
- Preserve project timelines with issue avoidance
- Avoid troubleshooting issues post implementation
- Take note of potential trouble areas for future projects
Bring together your organization’s change management team and get to know your next project’s Implementation Consultant. The benefits will become very clear as the communication begins, and even more when your project reaches go live and beyond.