Missed deadlines during a software implementation cost you big-time.
A single delay on just one step in an implementation can cascade downstream and impact every subsequent task, creating an expensive domino effect of missed deadlines.
That’s a deal-breaker because most businesses large and small are no longer willing to endure poorly executed, delay riddled software implementations.
Fortunately, today’s SaaS providers have powerful cloud-based solutions at their disposal—sophisticated, on-line project management software that dramatically simplifies and accelerates your client onboarding process.
Saas Implementations are never straightforward. In this post, we look at three ways these tools can help you minimize common implementation delays and meet all your critical deadlines.
- Assembling the team
Few customers have a SaaS adoption strategy. And that’s scary because it’s usually the customer’s job to identify and invite internal stakeholders to the kick-off workshop. Smaller companies may not have the technical expertise needed to even decide who should (and shouldn’t) be there.
What you often end up with is a client-side team composed of individuals who lack the authority, access or technical knowledge needed to complete critically important steps; individuals who don’t understand the “why” of the mission; and/or people who may not be responsible for its outcome.
What you need, of course, are “real” client-side decision makers, ground-level business users, IT technicians, and managers who understand how your software will impact company operations—the project’s immediate “blast radius,” if you will.
With project management software, you can create custom templates in advance of the kick-off session that list every project step right up to going live. You can also list all the necessary client-side and vendor roles; where they fit within each implementation step; and at what point(s) their input will be required. If the client lacks the technical expertise to fill all their roles, you’ve identified the issue up front and can help them secure the tech consultants they need.
Think about it. The implementation workshop has just begun, and the client is both excited and impressed.
- Outlining task ownership
Client-side business managers often think the implementation will be easy. They expect (and sometimes need) the new apps and/or services up and running ASAP. But moving to a SaaS application isn’t always plug-n-play.
With team member roles established, you can focus on specific, task-related issues.
Has the customer documented all its internal IT policies? How will these policies impact each implementation step? Using your project management software, you can list 1) which APIs are needed to ensure the SaaS app is communicating with certain internal systems and 2) build those steps (including approvals) into the schedule.
You may outline the steps needed to ensure the client’s accounting data is syncing with its CRM; or list which individuals or departments will monitor/handle access controls while you push data from a client-side system to your SaaS system.
In other words, project management tools can help you establish your implementation team and identify and assign all key integration tasks before the project even begins—thereby reducing the potential for missed deadlines. Once the implementation begins, every project milestone is updated and communicated to all parties via your on-line platform 24/7, so everyone can easily check the project’s status.
That includes your implementation team, which just became more effective because members can monitor and manage significantly more projects, simultaneously.
- Setting realistic deadlines
You’ve assembled the right people. You’ve listed all the steps and assigned all the tasks. One more thing: how long’s it going to take? And what happens when/if something goes wrong?
Here’s where your project management software really shines.
First, because all your previous implementations have been archived, your implementation staff can review performance data from past project timeframes and create deadlines based on facts. Basing your schedules on past completion schedules helps you avoid unrealistic deadlines in the first place. You can even review implementations by market segment, industry, or customer type.
Second, some SaaS implementations are incredibly complex, and things always go wrong. An uber-busy client—perhaps the customer’s VP of IT—is at a trade show in Texas and doesn’t realize her approval is needed before the next step can proceed.
Your project management tools allow you to establish “decision makers”—automated notifications (and follow-ups if necessary) that let uber-busy team members know their approval is required. Once the approval is granted, the system automatically sends a notice to those handling the next step, effectively telling them it’s “go-time.”
If a delay is unavoidable—perhaps a key consultant had to step away—the software tools give your implementation experts the visibility needed to quickly review the project’s progress to date and develop workarounds to keep things moving in the interim.
In the end, it’s all about visibility
Your implementation team is running 30 projects for 30 customers and all their project status information is buried in various excel, Google Sheets, Smartsheets and/or email chains. They could spend hours sifting through emails just to determine the cause of a single delay.
With project management software everything is stored within a single, on-line portal, available to every team member, 24/7.
Establishing, right from the opening bell, who needs to be involved in the implementation; what tasks they’ll be called upon to perform; and making it easy to check project status helps you meet all your mission-critical deadlines and get customers up and running in no-time.
Learn how the right project management software can get your SaaS implementations on track. Get our Quick Guide to Solving the 9 Biggest SaaS Implementation Problems.