SME POV: Secrets of Successful Implementation
8 ways to make transformation smooth and sustainable
When it comes to making major changes at an enterprise, what sets successful companies apart from those that flounder? Any media executive who has led major change efforts knows that implementation isn’t easy and that turning well-laid plans into reality often creates friction.
Boostr Co-founder and Chief Customer Officer Katie Schuele knows a thing or two about corporate change efforts and successful implementation after more than 15 years in the industry. “It’s important to remember that implementation is a business move,” she told us. “Not a technical one. Identify your business reasons for the change, and let everything flow from there.”
Read on for more of Schuele’s wisdom and her top eight secrets for implementation.
1. Find your “why”
“There’s always a future vision involved when it comes to change,” Shuele explains. “What can you achieve when you make this change? How will it make things better, faster, or easier?”
A pitfall that she has repeatedly observed is that during the sales process, businesses stay very close to their why but lose sight of it during implementation. That can lead to a cycle wherein the same problems manifest in different ways. “We don’t do ‘your mess for less’ at Boostr,” Schuele said. Instead, Schuele and her team emphasize setting objectives, envisioning an ideal business future, and guiding partners to those results.
2. Designate a team
Implementation of any new software is a change project. Many leaders get bogged down thinking of implementation as a technical project when in reality, it is a business one. Keeping it simple and designating a team to identify objectives, oversee implementation, and champion the solution company-wide sets everyone up for success.
Schuele suggests assigning a project manager to the task and a business leader as an advocate. Together, they can both manage integration (or migration, in some cases) and make the case for change to the team as a whole. Leaning on your technology partners and vendors is also important so you can think through workflows, processes, and systems together. “It’s about being solution-minded,” Schuele summarizes.
3. Get the data basics down
While Shuele emphasizes that implementation is not a technical project, teams would benefit from a basic understanding of data collection and analysis. “Otherwise, the demands can become too intricate,” Shuele explains. “Finding project managers or leaders to be part of the core implementation team who understand how data works is solid gold.”
A foundational knowledge of how systems work can facilitate the identification of questions, optimal processes, and KPIs that can make for a smoother launch.
4. Start tracking KPIs from Day 1
Your KPIs relate to the “why” that kicked off your new partnership and continue to be vital as the company moves through transformation. If you don’t have KPIs defined from the beginning, you don’t know what success looks like.
“For us at Boostr, we want to deliver on the promise of our solution,” Schuele says. “So, it’s important to know what these KPIs are so we can move in that direction. What do you wish the world looked like? Our teams love a challenge. So, challenge us! We’re up for it.” No matter who you’re partnering with for change—define KPIs before implementation and monitor their progress from Day 1 to ensure change is happening at a meaningful rate.
5. Check your attitude
“Demeanor is surprisingly important,” Schuele points out. “Calm is better. You don’t have to feel rushed. For example, at Boostr, when you sign with us, we’re on your team. You don’t need to crack the whip—we’re in it for you.”
Keeping an open mind, maintaining kind and professional communications, and understanding that issues are inevitable—and will be worked through—are essential pieces to approaching transformation at the enterprise level. They help facilitate implementation and keep it moving at the best possible pace. Speaking of pace …
6. Faster isn’t always better
“We’ve gotten clients up and running on our solution in a week or set them up on our OMS in a month,” Schuele says. “But it can lead to chaos on their end because speed doesn’t always add up to the best change management.”
Skipping the early steps, such as envisioning the future or defining KPIs, can lead to more issues post-launch. Companies may realize too late they’d like to take advantage of a new system’s capability that they aren’t set up for, or teams are bogged down trying to learn too much all at once. “Taking time to go through the whole process isn’t a bad thing,” Schuele notes. “I always say, ‘Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast.”
7. Focus on product structure
“Time spent on product structure really slows teams down,” Shuele says. It is vital to focus on structure early on, given the numerous implications of product bloat and how OMS reports to other systems, such as the ad server.t. “It usually needs to be smaller,” Schuele continues. “That helps get buy-in, because it has real implications for how the new platform will be used by people, and how they are putting together packages.”
A first step to reimagining product structure is to talk to the staff who are working in the current system every day. Where are there opportunities for improvement? What would change mean for them? Understanding how a product pare-down will impact users can be a North Star for operationalizing a new software successfully.
8. User acceptance testing
Budgeting time in the project plan for informal user acceptance testing can make all the difference when launching new software. “Ramp people up, let them know what the system will look like, let them see how the process will go before they’re officially in training, and get feedback,” Schuele offers.
Some key questions she suggests asking during this period are: 1) Do users like the flow? 2) Is it intuitive? 3) How much training do they estimate will be necessary? 4) And what needs to be tweaked to perform better?
An implementation that solves problems (instead of creates them)
The secrets to successful implementation are about retaining value at every stage of the process by centering KPIs, the company’s “why,” and the people who will be affected throughout the change initiative. For sustained results over time, clear ownership of the project, tracking progress from Day 1, and slowing the pace of change (in order to eventually speed up) is crucial.
For many enterprises, Boostr is the secret of successful implementation, Schuele says. Purpose-built for media companies with tons of out-of-box capabilities, room for customization, and a customer service team ready to meet any challenge, Boostr is designed to make life easier from day one.
Find out more about how you can implement Boostr at your company. Click here to learn more about our platform.
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