Any IT project undertaken by an organization should be considered as part of an overall strategic business vision for growth and improvement. Improvements to enterprise IT solutions can help streamline disconnected systems and make your business more efficient and successful.
But failure rates for IT project implementations are commonly between 40% to 70% -- a costly risk to take when considering an upgrade. Usually, this can be attributed to a combination of smaller failures: inability to stick to the project’s schedule, budgets that spiral out of control due to lack of clear measurable goals, and a breakdown in communication between the stakeholders. Successful implementation projects depend on true collaboration between each and every one of the teams involved, every step of the way.
We asked StarGarden team’s top software implementation managers to give their insights on what makes for a smooth, successful IT project implementation.
What is the advice you would give to make an implementation as pain-free as possible?
Wendy: Be prepared! Have a dedicated client Project Manager, and ensure team resources have the subject matter knowledge and the time to properly execute all the required tasks to meet deadlines.
Kara: Planning and Resources are critical to the success of an implementation. It is important to plan how resources will be scheduled over the course of the implementation: are they dedicated to the project 50%, or working on the project in their spare time? Having a clear understanding of your resources will allow you to create a project plan and timeline that is not only realistic but will greatly improve the success of the implementation.
What was your biggest lesson learned during an implementation?
Wendy: Things don’t always go according to plans! You need to be prepared to look at and consider alternatives to an original plan.
Kara: An unrealistic timeline will only set the team up for failure and lower the morale on a project.
Tax season is a busy period for HR. How can organizations better plan for it?
Wendy: Balance quarterly; don’t wait for year end to do 12 months of review and possible corrections. It is much easier to spend a little time every 3 months to ensure that you are on track for year-end reporting.
Kara: We encourage all of our clients to run and balance their year-end forms on a quarterly basis. This will relieve some of the pressure felt during the tax season.
When choosing a software vendor, what advice would you give customers?
Wendy: Consider not just the software package, but also the company that you are hiring – you will get the best results if you work together as a team. This means the company backing up the software needs to understand your business, your functional requirements (what you are trying to accomplish by acquiring new software), AND the environment that you work in. Make sure that the software vendor is committed to your overall HCM success, not just having you run their software application. The relationship is long term, and you should be looking for a group that wants to work with you now and well into the future.
Kara: Make sure you have a solid understanding of your needs and the reasons for your software upgrade. Every software package has its own set of bells and whistles, and it is important to stay true to what your needs really are. It is also important to make sure you get to know the vendor; this is a long-term partnership you are embarking on, and you want to make sure they are people you can work with.
What productivity tip or shortcut about using the StarGarden system would you like to share?
Wendy: Review your process reports! StarGarden provides a wealth of information on how the system has processed your data. It can’t be stressed enough: even a high level review of process reports will save a lot of time in ensuring that your final results are exactly how you expect them to be.
Kara: The StarGarden system has numerous exception reports that are generated with the various processes. While most reports may be blank, indicating no issues found, there is the chance that at some point an issue will be found; by reviewing the exception reports you can make the change or correction before it becomes a larger problem.
Kara Abbing is the Client Services Manager at StarGarden Corporation. She has more than 15 years experience in software implementation and support services.
Wendy Thomson is the Technical Operations Manager at StarGarden Corporation. She has more than 10 years experience in software implementation and project management.
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