You did the research. You compared the different options and features and made your choice. You even got the Purchase Order approved (finally).
Now it’s time to move into the implementation phase.
Set the stage for getting everyone affected by the change, from leadership to staff, working on the same page with these 9 tips for a successful software implementation. While the tips are based on our expertise helping implement CounselLink for our Enterprise Legal Management (ELM) clients, organizations of every type and size will find them useful for maximizing their success with new software.
- First and foremost, develop a Project Charter/Vision. There is a proven connection between a successful onboarding and having a project team that buys in to the project. If your company’s leadership presents a compelling vision for the project and its short- and long-term benefits, the project team will be more engaged. A high level of engagement across departments has been shown to contribute to long-term success. It is highly recommended that senior leadership be present at the initial Requirements Elicitation Meeting(s) to personally communicate the vision and rally the team to get excited and engaged for the changes to come.
- Develop success criteria and metrics. Successful customers are able to articulate how they will measure success. They develop metrics to track toward success criteria and celebrate small wins along the way. It is important to establish a baseline for these metrics before starting so that there is a way to gauge progress. Some of the benchmarks our CounselLink clients have used to measure success are: reduced time required to process invoices, reduction in bill amounts, faster bill review, more discounts received, etc. The team may also have project-specific goals such as 100% team participation.
- Generate a positive buzz. Change is difficult and not always welcome, but getting people excited about the vision and the role of the new software in achieving goals and improvements can motivate the team and facilitate a smoother conversion.
- Be realistic. On the other side of change management, it’s good to be realistic and understand that some changes may not equate to improvement for every individual. There may be unwelcome shifts in responsibilities or processes for a few in order to realize improvements for a particular group such as the legal department as a whole.
- Get the project team adequately prepared. Make sure that everyone on the team is ready and has the time allotted to put in the work. With a CounselLink implementation, the core project teams – consisting of clients and CounselLink Implementation Consultants – have weekly status meetings, and we recommend that the internal client team also have separate weekly working sessions as the decision-making process begins.
- Identify and engage all stakeholders. Engage all groups that will be affected by the onboarding project and the resulting changes in process and technology. You’ll need to talk to representatives from each department/team, IT, accounts payable, etc. While the core project team may have a high knowledge level of the tasks performed by everyone, some teams may have developed other processes to accomplish their tasks that the core team isn’t aware of. By engaging all stakeholders and users in the process, the team can make sure that all functional needs are being addressed and that any impediments or roadblocks are identified and addressed early.
- Improve processes that need updating. The onboarding of new technology is an opportunity to review and revamp old processes. CounselLink Implementation Consultants help our clients take a critical look at which activities work well and where redundancies may be eliminated.
- Schedule pre-work and an initial Requirements Elicitation Meeting. Completion of the assigned pre-work before the Requirements Elicitation Meeting begins is important. Having the consultant onsite at the beginning is a great way to start a project, but an onsite can also be scheduled after some or all of the requirements are gathered. CounselLink Consultants take a collaborative approach to determining the best timing for an onsite meeting based on specific needs and the Project Charter/Vision.
- Have everyone involved become familiar with the system. Teams that have a working knowledge of the new software system are able to make more informed decisions quickly. In a CounselLink implementation, for example, LexisNexis and the CounselLink Team encourage everyone to get a head start and view the free CounselLink videos provided by LexisNexis University. Adoption will be key once your implementation is complete. These tips will help pave the way for users of the system to continue to be engaged throughout the software lifecycle.
Kelley Howell is a Senior CounselLink Implementation Consultant for LexisNexis.