So you have completed the research, selected an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) System – or other solution, provided justification, developed a plan, and obtained budget and approval for your project. Now you can sit back and relax. All of the heavy-lifting is done, you just need to install and implement the software solution, right? – Wrong. Here are some critical project implementation steps that can make or break a successful implementation:

Step 1 – Discovery

Include discovery at the beginning of the project to validate and expand what was learned in the research and justification process. As part of that discovery, you will need to gather specifics, like how you will integrate with other ‘line of business’ (LOB) systems. Other details will need to be gathered and questions answered.

Identify Stakeholders that will be involved with this project. Stakeholders are defined as anyone who perceives they will be impacted by the change. All stakeholders are not included in all meetings and interviews, but they are included at strategic points in the process. This is a part of change management and helps ensure people embrace the changes.

Include ‘Subject Matter Experts’ (SME’s) that can be contacted for project details. Include members of the beta test group. Identify how often team members should be updated on project status. This information will help you to only contact appropriate individuals at the requested frequency and will reduce unnecessary contacts (emails).

Step 2 – Kick-off Meeting

Hold a kick-off meeting or video conference that all Stakeholders can attend. The Executive Sponsor (Project Head) plays an important role in the kick-off meeting, as they should introduce why the project is being implemented. They can explain what the benefits are, and the reasons for making these changes, demonstrate management support, and elicit support from employees. Introduce team members and talk about the specifics of the project (timeline, major steps, employee responsibilities, etc.). Involving all stakeholders in this step is also part of successful change management.

Step 3 – Weekly Update Meetings

Run weekly update meetings or conference calls with limited participants. Invite only those with responsibility (for status updates) and those with assigned action items (for reporting and accountability). Attendees to these meetings may change as the project progresses.

Step 4 – Update Emails

Email Updates are one way to document assignments and track progress. A summary email can be sent to Executives to limit the amount of detail they have to wade through. Yet, update emails provide executives the high-level view of project progress and inform them of any issues that need to be resolved.

Step 5 – User Acceptance Testing (UAT)

User Acceptance Testing, the final step in software installation, is used to validate that the deliverables of the project are actually complete and that the system is configured to function as designed. Before completely transitioning to your new system, first, have your end-users test the software using a UAT document. The UAT document can be created from items in the technical Specifications and Functional requirements documents.

Congratulations on getting your project approved, now you get to roll up your sleeves and really get to work!


Author: Craig Young – Director of Engineering

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