Guest blog by Apparatus Quo
When recently implementing a new core inventory management system for a retail business, it was critical we had a strong plan in place to help with the transition, which took place over a 7 week period to their initial go-live.
There were four core business roles that were about to drastically change how they went about their tasks, and by planning out their daily, weekly and monthly activities to consolidate a list of must-haves and nice-to-haves based on their needs, we were able to test and validate ‘before’ and ‘after’ business activities in the trial system prior to going live. This helped to mitigate any risk to their productivity during the transition.
A solid plan meant we were able to account for some critical business processes and create an internal quick reference guide for each role that supported them during the transition, and beyond.
Before heading into a tech implementation, we always like to work with the business leaders to clearly define the ‘why’ and objectives of the project. One way to help articulate this to the broader team is to reflect on the business strategy and associated technology roadmap, as well as what it may mean for your people in their roles. This helps the team prepare for what is coming.
If the objective of the project is clear, it’s easy to take it to the next level of detail to map out a detailed list of priorities and your team’s prioritised ‘hit list’ when setting up your new system, and to define a baseline project schedule, so you can work to key dates and milestones along the way.
Note - typically, we suggest at least allowing 4-7 weeks for your day 1 go-live, to allow enough time to dot the i’s and cross the t’s, so to speak!
Before even starting going deep in configuring and setting up your new system, we find it useful to map out a hypothesis or early view on how the system may fit in with your business. Key items to review include:
Now you have a solution design starting point, now is a good time to start your free trial for the system (if they offer one), to maximise your time.
Working with your key staff members, or tech champions as we like to call them, set up your ‘representative sample’ of business data in the system, review the high-level settings, and perhaps work through any quick start guides the platform offers. For example, WorkGuru offers a minimum configuration guide, as well as the complete end-to-end workflow to implement their software that you can use as your checklist!
The main focus here is to add enough data into the system to validate your needs and requirements and work with your key staff, advisors and software support team to work out the best configuration for your business.
This phase typically takes around 2 weeks as a starting point, and key outcomes include understanding your business needs and how well the solution will meet those needs (vs. using a workaround process or other system), how your processes will be impacted, and what role each staff member will play in the system with their access. Some documents and items you may want to have updated at the end of this stage include:
We recommend while your representative sample dataset is in the system, to use this as a key reference for your team training. By splitting your team into key ‘roles’ based on what they need to do in the system, you can tailor your internal training with the broader team based on what each staff member needs to know, to reduce chances of overwhelm. You know your people best, so plan accordingly for each individual’s specific needs when it comes to learning. Some considerations include:
In-person Vs. online conference call (e.g. Zoom) vs. quick videos (asynchronous communication)
Quick reference guide
Quick reference guide Data migration plan, and open orders
We hope we’ve helped give you some ideas to get your own ‘ducks in a row’ when it comes to business systems implementation planning. A solid plan means you have the greatest chance of success, maintaining business continuity and working with your people on adjusting to the change.
If you are interested in learning more about system transformation and execution, you can check out our definitive online course on the same topic, which will guide you over 7 weeks to go-live, step by step..
If you’d like to download the PDF checklist and our go-live framework, you can do that here.
Josh is an engineer, who has moved into the world of business and tech consulting. He’s had experience at the "big end of town" (roles at Mondelēz International, Cadbury & Deloitte) as well as over 500 SaaS implementations with business owners, leaders and their growing businesses (with BlueRock and his own Apparatus Quo business).
Josh loves introducing the capability of the "big end of town" to the growing small and medium business, and keeping across new developments in the industry for what is coming next.
He’s passionate about what he does in his advisory work with business leaders, as it's so important to facilitate adoption and use of technology in a sustainable way. The more people involved, the more considered the approach needs to be to take them on the journey. Josh naturally takes quite a structured approach to his work, and hopes to pass on some great frameworks, guidance, tips and tricks that will help others on their journey, too.
During his downtime, Josh loves to cook, play squash, hang out with his partner Felicia and his two whippets - just ask him for dog photos and he’d be happy to oblige!