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May 14, 2014

Seven steps to prevent post-implementation blues

The following blog was written with cmms (computerized maintenance management system) software in mind, but equally applies to any new implementation.

A blank surface, drawing instruments and several brilliant ideas. From the drawing board an architect can design a fantastic building with all sorts of new features. It appears to be the ideal situation for creating something new, but what if after the relocation, a user is not aware that the window opens differently, or there is too little daylight in the workplace, or in fact there’s too much sun so that people can’t read their screens? Enthusiasm then gives way to frustration, just when an employee actually wants to enjoy his or her new workplace.

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The same thing often happens with the implementation of new software such as Integrated Workplace Management System software (IWMS), Enterprise Resource Planning software (ERP) or Customer Relationship Management software (CRM). A great deal of time and money is invested in the preparatory phase, but little thought is given to what should happen afterwards. Of course the preparatory phase is wonderful and exciting, and parties such as management, IT and purchasing are keen to provide their input. The trajectory following the selection phase is often regarded as just user negativity, because the new system has been fully thought through and everything will run smoothly…

Surely?

In fact it’s only after the implementation that the real work begins: the utilization phase. It’s time for the day-to-day work, employees get down to it and those involved in the selection phase barely think about the system anymore. It quickly becomes clear that expectations have not always been met, and users feel they have been let down. In practice it appears that the new solution does not match the day-to-day reality perfectly, because in practice the work actually happens differently than was imagined at the start on the drawing board. You can best describe this period as the ‘post-implementation blues.’

Where staff actually want to enjoy a system which simplifies the work, the user is in fact held back by the system. How can you prevent the employee feeling let down or underwhelmed following implementation of a new system? Here are seven steps to prevent post-implementation blues for CMMS and other software implementations:

  1. Implement in phases
    Don’t opt for a ‘big bang scenario’ in which everything is renewed, but implement in phases. Use quick wins and then scale up.
  1. Take resistance into account
    Every change is accompanied by resistance, because people have to work differently than they are used to. Create a role within the company to supervise the change process.
  1. Make the benefits clear
    As management you may certainly have clear objectives, but employees have to work with the new solution day in, day out. Give them an insight into what the benefits will be for them, for example working more effectively and saving more time for the more enjoyable aspects of the work.
  1. Do something with user feedback
    Only listening to employee feedback is not enough; it makes sense to create a role which will actually follow through on the concerns. What’s involved are often tiny issues, but they may make a world of difference to the end-user in his or her day-to-day duties.
  1. Use ‘best practices’
    Why develop an entirely new system, if you could instead implement proven success stories? Investing less during the implementation phase leaves scope for more focus on the utilization.
  1. Celebrate the success
    If you receive an initial report following the implementation, does it show the work is being done more efficiently, or have costs been reduced significantly? Then celebrate and communicate the success, and thank people for their role in the process.
  1. Stay involved
    It’s important that the manager continues to be involved after the selection phase. It remains his or her project.

These are seven steps to prevent the ‘post-implementation blues’. The result is a CMMS (or other software) system which works well, with satisfied users. And of course that’s music to the ears of every manager.

Do you have other suggestions to avoid post-implementation blues? Add them to the comments section below.

Jos Knops
Director Global Product Marketing