Implement successful software projects

Everyone who has ever introduced a new software system knows that there are many challenges and obstacles. Certainly, there are already dozens of articles about these obstacles and about typical mistakes that are made during an introduction. However, the situation in practice is often different and hardly any article can prepare you for the hurdles that await. In a guest article for, Oliver Witvoet provides some food for thought and tricks to be better prepared for a project. We summarise the article for you below.
A woman and man looking at a computer screen.

Focus and target setting

Step one on the list must be to first define the process. An analysis of the actual processes followed by an analysis of the target processes is essential to first define the framework for the introduction. Oliver Witvoet points out the enormous importance of the sequence of these steps. The first step is to define the goals according to the SMART principle. The results of this goal definition then show which software is suitable at all. Oliver Witvoet warns against getting excited by software solutions that are too beautiful and shiny, but in the end do not fit the company. Concentrating on the essentials is enormously important.

Change affects everyone and everything

Every decision-maker must realize even before the introduction of new software that it is not a one-off intervention, but rather a protracted and constant change. Many procedures in the company will change with the software. Staff should be prepared and attuned to the change as well as possible. This is also where change management comes in because only employees who are behind this change will accept it favorably and contribute positively.
In this context, Oliver Witvoet also warns of the costs that a failed attempt can bring: if the change is not pursued with a holistic approach and fails, it can be expensive. So, everyone - from the management level to the last user - must be involved in the project from the beginning.

Important details

Much of what Oliver Witvoet writes sounds logical and should be self-evident. Yet, in his experience, it is often done wrong. He reminds us, for example, how essential it is,
to choose a software producer with knowledge of the industry. After all, a professional and reliable partner should be brought on board. It is also essential to plan realistically. Those who place utopian expectations on software will not be successful. Employees should be prepared from the outset for the fact that success often only becomes apparent after some time and that a new system does not work perfectly straight away. Always make sure that the so-called key users have their hearts in it. These include, for example, the site or department managers. If they are not informed from the beginning or if they do not support the introduction, setbacks and obstacles are already pre-programmed. Of course, it is best if all those involved show true enthusiasm. Convinced comrades-in-arms who believe in the project are important at all levels and virtually guarantee success.

Good preparation and patience

Do not underestimate the effort and be prepared that the software supplier will only do about a third of the work. You, or your company, will do the rest of the work. Many people are not aware of this, and it creates resentment if it takes longer and involves a lot of effort. So, create the best conditions right from the start. This means informing everyone comprehensively so that acceptance for the change is created early on. You need to provide support and training opportunities. Offer internal training and involve the key users in it. The software supplier should train the key users. As part of a "train the trainer" concept, the key users then train their staff. Choose software that is not unnecessarily complex and is appropriate for the project. The rule is: as much as necessary, as little as possible. Oliver Witvoet concludes his article by emphasizing another aspect that is enormously important but often neglected: Switch off the old software as soon as the new one goes live. Shadow software that is still running on the side for emergencies can cause terrible damage. Only if staff work exclusively with the new solution will they be able to cope with minor setbacks or difficulties.
Author: IAPM internal

Key words: Project management, Tip, Knowledge, Software, Guide

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