Adopting a project management system can be a big win for your team especially if it is implemented successfully. A project management system not only tracks incoming and ongoing projects but can improve visibility, resource management, productivity as well as clarify accountability. At Echo, we know choosing a project management tool isn’t the end – the tool must be properly implemented, and the process must be fully adopted to be effective and bring true change to the organization. Below we’ll share 5 of our top tips for a successful implementation of a project management system.
Define Business Requirements for Vendor Selection
Defining your key business requirements prior to vendor selection is essential to a successful implementation. We’ve encountered many organizations that are not able to fully adopt a system because it does not meet their unique business requirements. Choosing to implement a project management system can be a costly and time-consuming undertaking. Defining your business requirements from the beginning can build the foundation for a successful implementation.
When defining key business requirements, we recommend starting with examining what pain points you’d like to solve. This can also help create “buy-in” from the start by welcoming as many participants as possible through conducting a survey. It’s crucial to review quality issues in the current system to see where balls are being dropped and opportunities for optimization. It’s also vital to understand your current process and workflow and what requirements of a system would be necessary. This is especially important with knowing what existing software would need to integrations for long-term success.
Initial Gap Analysis
Once you have selected a vendor, completing an “Initial Gap Analysis” between your selected software platform and your current system will give you a clear understanding of the gap and actions needed to close the gap for each functionality. A gap analysis is a simple process in which for each functionality you analyze the present state and the desired future state and then examine the gap and what action steps are required to bridge the gap to achieve your desired state.
Detailed Implementation Plan
Having a strategic and communicated implementation plan provides a sturdy foundation for successful implementation. This should include identifying your project team, budget, defined project plan, schedule, communication plan as well as a plan for testing and training with your team. Other important factors to map out in this planning phase are data migration, cutover, and the system architecture.
A clearly communicated implementation plan allows for clear expectations and accountability to keep the project on time and budget and allowing for minimum disruption to the daily operations of the business.
When migrating from a current system, it’s important to have a detailed data migration plan in place making sure that data is correctly migrated and optimized to assure the accuracy of your data remains intact. When mapping out data migration we recommend spending considerable time clearing up your current data system. We like to use the phrase “reduce, reuse, recycle” as an example. We encourage our teams to reduce by getting rid of “ROT” or redundant, out of date, or trivial data, to reuse by remapping all metadata, and recycle by standardizing across the system if possible.
We encourage testing with a pilot group prior to rolling out to an entire organization. Having a pilot group allows you to make improvements from the feedback you’ve solicited and lessons learned prior to rollout. Not only can this provide opportunities for optimizations but it helps protect the organizational “buy-in” by having as many problems worked out as possible before introducing and implementing to the entire team.
Bonus Tip: Training, Training, Training!
Change is necessary but we all know it’s not easy. Resistance is natural when faced with a new, unknown system – proper training and support can help alleviate this from within your team. Training can consist of different formats whether that’s webinars, office hours, recorded videos, or quick reference guides. It’s essential to provide your team with ample training and support to gain buy-in and confidence in the new system.
Implementing a new project management platform can be a costly investment in both time and money. To succeed and assure your organization receives its ROI it’s essential to have clearly defined requirements prior to selection, complete a detailed analysis, map out a strategic project and data migration plan as well as pilot and offer supportive training. If you’re interested in learning more tips to successfully implement a project management system, watch a free recording of our webinar. At Echo, our project managers empower teams for improved delivery and measurable results so that you have the peace of mind you need to fully focus on your company's growth and success. We offer services in software selection, process improvement, and implementation, as well as training.