For many years now, software implementations have been events of both hope and disappointment for business owners. They have the potential to change the face of the business in some way, revolutionise employee processes, make things faster, make things better. Or so it is claimed at least. Accompanying this potential often comes a raft of difficulties, whether this is rejection by staff, problems in adapting the software to the business, or a failure of the software to meet the objectives it was put in place to achieve.
In today’s business sphere, the trend is to introduce Software as a Service (SaaS) programs, which is also known as software that is 'delivered through the cloud'. Business owners need to be aware that despite this development in software delivery, the same types of problems exist with introducing cloud software. Five of the most common pitfalls are canvassed below, along with how you might avoid them.
1. Lack of clear objectives
One common reason SaaS implementations fail is that managers are introducing the software without a clear reason why. Too many people have been lured into the trap of thinking that cloud computing is the way of the future, and therefore everybody has to 'move to the cloud' ASAP. Cloud computing has revolutionised business software and infrastructure, but that does not mean it will improve every business right now.
If you are thinking about introducing SaaS software, ask yourself exactly what aspects of your business that you would like to improve. Once you’ve done this, you will be in a better position of determine whether the cloud software on offer will effectively meet this objective. Then you can decide whether the software really is the best option. Remember to consider all possible solutions to your objective(s), and that the simplest, least intrusive option is often the best.
2. Believing that the software is the complete solution
Even when a decision has been made to introduce cloud software to achieve well-defined objectives, the mistake is often made that the software will be the complete solution. It is important to keep in mind software is merely a tool for achieving your business goals rather than an end in itself. For example, a common investment being made in many industries is in Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. While these are useful tools, they do not achieve CRM by themselves, they are only a means of doing so. Whenever you implement a software change, make sure you put systems in place to support it, and keep your expectations realistic.
3. Lack of focus on staff buy-in
The idea of 'stick in the mud' staff defying change and rejecting new software is a phenomenon many business owners are aware of. Despite this, it is apparent that many underestimate exactly how much this can ruin an implementation. Relying only on self-motivated employees to adapt to the change is a shortcut to disaster. Adoption rates are notoriously low for substantial software changes, and if a significant proportion of your staff rejects the change, then they could affect other staff adapting to the software, and the entire process could backfire.
Because of this risk, it is highly advisable to explain in detail to staff what the change will involve, how it will affect them, and how it can help them in their roles. Trying to obtain staff input before making the change is also important: even if it won’t materially affect your strategic decisions, it will allow staff to feel involved in the change, which will make them more likely to accept it when introduced. Finally, it has been shown that when management buy-in to software changes, this greatly impacts the rate at which other staff accept the change, so getting them on board is crucial.
4. Insufficient training
Related to the above is providing staff with training they require to be able to utilise the new software to its full potential and minimise their difficulties while adapting to the change. Failing to do so will also increase the likelihood that staff will reject the change. This applies not only to regular staff who will use the software, but also to your IT staff who install and maintain it. Cloud implementations have hundreds of moving parts, with many interdependencies between these parts. Even the most talented IT staff will struggle implementing such a system if they do not have experience of doing so, so getting expertise to help with this is vitally important.
5. Choosing the wrong software provider
Lastly, cloud software implementations are destined for failure if the wrong provider is chosen. There may be many available software providers that you can employ for your implementation, but beware of choosing someone that is too expensive, lacks expertise, cannot understand your business model and or cannot train employees properly. Personalities are important too. Avoid the provider that is so caught up in the 'benefits' of their own software that they do a poor job of fitting an appropriate solution to your business.
Being experts in cloud software implementation and support, we are well placed to assist in selecting and managing adoption programs. You can always check out out some information on our cloud software onboarding process, or you may like to just get in contact to discuss your situation and how we can best help.