Business Software implementations can be very difficult and bloody. There are a lot of mistakes that can be made and the path is laden with minefields. This is true for any business software implementation. Below I outline the five biggest points, in my opinion, to watch out for.
Without people none of this would be happening. The right people are the key to any successful project. When businesses switch out systems it has an enormous effect on the organization.
In most sizeable companies the mere planning of a software change will generate a band of Luddites who will try to sabotage the progress. Installing a new business software system is hard enough, let alone doing it with a group of people against you. I use the word sabotage for a reason. During multiple implementations we have encountered groups of people who did not want to change out the system, no matter how good the system was.
It is futile to stand in the way of a technological improvement in general. Doing so within your organization will not only make it less competitive but also destroy morale. In 1816, Luddites had to be suppressed with military force to make way for the industrial revolution. Now, some 200 years later, we would hope that enlightened conversations and some strong convincing would suffice. It is very important to convert everyone into a proponent for the success of the project.
It is apt to note that Dynamics NAV operates mostly in the SMB (small and medium business) space. Which means that implementations are usually not in the thousands of users. When you are in this space you can and should allow yourself some flexibility. A smaller group should be nimbler than a larger group. I’m an avid advocate of an agile methodology instead of the traditional waterfall. The experience has led us to projects that are better done and faster.
Running the project like it’s for a large conglomerate, when it’s not, is a common mistake. Sometimes the project manager just gets in the way. In my experience productivity is inversely related to the number of people in the meeting. Of course someone needs to make sure everyone is doing their job, but cluttering the process with countless signoffs and bureaucratic red tape sounds more like a CYA (cover your behind) methodology rather than “Let' s get things done.”
#3 Business Process
Most companies are familiar with the constant battle between sales and operations. When it comes to corporate group behaviors, that falls into being stereotypical. IT is the department that usually gets caught in the middle acting as a mediator between the two.
When you’re installing a new system this battle is usually taken to another level. People within the departments feel like they need to assert themselves and not lose control. Quite frequently a business process is carved out in the system that is meant to satisfy both departments, but in reality it’s faulty.
Companies should take the opportunity to have the departments collaborate on the best process. Features that people fight for the most are often not that important when the picture is viewed as a whole.
Having the experience of knowing what works and what doesn’t is paramount when tracing the path in an implementation. You need an expert guide. A person that knows the system extremely well and can navigate through the minefield. It’s important to note that these minefields are more often business processes not system areas.
All too often, I have seen projects lose momentum. It could happen because other priorities come into play, such as the project is waiting on a decision, cash flow is tight or any other valid reason. Although losing momentum can happen for understandable reasons, everyone involved should do their best to keep the project moving at a steady pace. Sometimes events that might seem like they would hold the project up can be worked around. Losing momentum results in time and enthusiasm lost.
This is the area where I see the project managers play a very important part. The constant pinging and pushing is worthwhile in the end. There are going to be days where you are flying high and checking off those action items at lightning speed. Then there are going to be the days where your project manager is going to push you onwards like a coach yelling at you for that final pushup.
#5 Don't Give Up
Let's say you’re going through an implementation and things are not going well or you just went live and there are serious problems. Don't give up. There’s definitely a reason to reassess and constructively sail towards less turbulent seas. Don’t take the direction of adopting less technology based on the false rationale that it’s easier and that it worked before.
Almost all problems that arise in an implementation can be solved. If you don´t have a solution, you haven´t looked hard enough. The reward is worth the fight. You made a mistake and shed some blood. Mistakes make you wiser, but if you do nothing with that wisdom it's a pure loss.