Investing in software to automate and standardize your commercial processes is a good way to grow your business. However, when your staff use that software really well, it’s a GREAT way to grow your business! A solid implementation is key between good and great.
Studies show that implementations of large enterprise-wide solutions do not always go well with success rates often around the 40-50% range. Of course, the technical aspects of any software system are important. The implementation, training and support services provided by your solution partner make-or-break the changes you want to achieve.
At Policy Works, we use these seven tips for a better implementation.
1. Communicate why you need to change
It’s no secret that most people don’t like change! Communication is perhaps the single most important thing you can do to improve your implementation success rate. Connecting with your staff during all stages of any new project is your best resource. Use various forms of communication too. Face-to-face honest discussions, regular status meetings, email follow ups and so on. Perhaps your team can work together to write your goal (the why and how) on a white board in the office kitchen?
2. Get staff buy-in BEFORE you purchase
If you have kids, have you noticed they’re more likely to eat their lunch after they were involved in making it? The same concept applies in the office. Communicate and include key staff early in your process. Discuss as a team and define what issues need to be addressed. How will a change impact the future of individuals and the company? Achieving staff ‘buy-in’ is different than selling your solution, or getting passive permission to move ahead with change. Ensure your short-listed vendors help you with this step. Ask software vendors the tough questions, ensure they provide an outline or jointly create your own implementation plan. Will your new vendor make a good partner to you and your staff? Employee buy-in to your vision, goals and decision making process massively improves your opportunity for success.
3. Create a team to lead the process
At Policy Works, we insist brokerage principals create a team, and appoint a Champion to guide the process. While utilizing your Policy Works expert, an internal team approach reduces the work load on any one individual to ensure key people are able to move the implementation forward.
Back to the kid’s lunch scenario; once the novelty of ‘making their own lunch’ wears off…a team approach helps keep the process going. For example, a parent providing the right ingredients and a timely reminder makes lunch prep easy, leading to a regular habit.
4. Set realistic goals and time-frame
The best plans are reasonable and achievable! Utilize the advice your vendor provides. As a broker, you may only do a large-scale implementation a few times over a decade—at Policy Works we work with brokers every day through every stage of software on-boarding and beyond. Work together and lean on us to help set realistic goals and timelines. Include bite-sized goals during the process.
5. Keep track: Use analytics to review and reward often
Setting targets is great, but if you don’t keep on track, who really cares? An easy way to keep everyone on target is a brief weekly meeting. Did all the users complete training, did they understand it, do they have more questions? Is your policy count starting to grow as expected? When on-boarding with Policy Works, we share analytics to check on progress early and regularly. Maximizing momentum is important at this stage. Try sneaking in a surprise double-chocolate chip cookie into your kid’s lunch (the lunch they already made), and see if they notice.
6. Make it mandatory
Successful brokerages do this well, they enforce mandatory usage. You will get push back from some staff on this one, guaranteed. But don’t give in. There’s short-term pain in learning a new system. If you’ve done your due diligence, the workflow and features of the software should keep staff from wanting to go back to the old way. By the way, is your kid still making their lunch…or did you step in and starting doing it again? Do they know it’s their job?
7. Stay involved (make sure everyone knows it!) and think long term
If your position in the brokerage includes using Policy Works, your example sets the tone for the implementation. If you’re not personally a day to day user, stay involved and monitor progress. Sit in on weekly status meetings. Talk to staff about what they love and don’t love about the new software. (Yes, it’s possible to love new features!) Plan ongoing support for the long term. Does your commercial staff know to call Policy Works support and how to use online resources for awesome software support? How will you handle training of new staff and learning advanced features after the initial roll-out is successful?
Long term success is directly correlated to how well you lead and manage the implementation and change management process. Understanding this prior to purchasing a system ensures that you put the right focus on the team behind the software. As an added bonus, just maybe, your 6, 16 or 26-year-old kid(s) will be making their own lunch forever too!
We’ll be having some fun discussing this concept, using our experiences and those of various brokers joining us May 15th, 2017. Please come join in with our panel of experts at the ORBiT Real-Time Day 2017 event. Hear what we have to say and let me know if you have questions. I’m looking forward to continuing this conversation!