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6 ways you are setting your systems implementations up for failure.

Looking for an ROI on your next big systems investment? Don't make these 6 mistakes.



Regardless of if you are upgrading an existing system or deploying something new, proper resources must be dedicated to the planning and execution of the implementation to ensure the success of your initiative.


Time and time again, we hear stories about expensive software implementations that have gone sideways, either during the implementations themselves or during the first couple of months of use.


These unsuccessful implementations often result in the software being completely scrapped right away or the software being implemented but rarely used and not implemented into daily routines.


If you want to get the most out of your systems implementation, avoid the following (perhaps obvious, but often overlooked) mistakes:


1. You don’t fully understand the business need


Typically, a software system is brought in to replace or optimize an inefficient manual process or to provide functionality that is otherwise unavailable or unattainable. This is either to keep up with the times or to stay on the cutting edge. Regardless of where your organization is on the adoption curve, the business need must be properly defined, fully-understood, and communicated throughout the department. If the business need is not understood or agreed-upon by all stakeholders, the implementation is not going to get the attention that is needs, nor is the system going to reside properly within the organizational hierarchy.


2. You have not properly quantified or communicated expectations internally


Return on investment calculations typically happen prior to every big investment, systems or otherwise. These calculations provide broad numbers to help justify the investment but using an ROI calculation as the only expectation is akin to looking for an unfamiliar destination without a GPS. You know where you’d like to end up, but you don’t have any idea how to get there. Instead, understand what specific problem the system is being brought in to solve and how it’s expected to solve that problem. Not every system is meant to provide a direct return on investment and no system will unless it’s used properly and consistently.


3. You choose the product based on price alone


It’s natural that price be one of the determining factors when deciding on the right system for your organization. It’s a problem, however, when it’s the only determining factor. Choosing a system based on price alone is one way of admitting that you don’t fully understand the product. Selecting the least expensive system is not always the quickest route to a return and the most expensive system is not always the best. Take time to understand the product and its features before even considering price. If you can’t afford the right system, it may be best not to buy one at all.


4. You don’t fully understand the product


If you are investing in a system, the success of that system is ultimately your responsibility and regardless of if you are the intended end-user or not, you must understand the product. Take time during the sales process to learn the product through the eyes of its intended end-user. You would never hire a direct report without first understanding their background and capabilities. You would also never hire a direct report without a job description and an understanding of where they fit within your organizational hierarchy. The process of investing in a system should be no different.


5. Your project management team is not invested in the project’s success


Regardless of the expected implementation timeline, establishing a motivated and effective project management team is essential to the ultimate success of your new system. If the system is viewed as a burden, or if there is an insufficient amount of internal resources, the implementation will never get the attention that it needs. Choose a trusted and motivated team to carry out the implementation and reward success when milestones are reached.


6. You do not have a formal usage and reporting structure


Regardless of how successful and problem-free the implementation was, if the system does not have a defined end user and an established reporting hierarchy, it’s likely not going to be very effective. How are you tracking system usage and success? Is the end-user being held accountable as the owner of the system? Have you established the right KPIs? Are you tracking them consistently? These are all important questions to answer if a return on investment is expected.

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