SaaS is an evolving landscape, but a successful implementation will always be a priority for leading companies. Successful SaaS implementations still rely on the people and teams that carry them out. As a software implementation manager, you play a critical role in successful deployments.
Understanding the Role of Software Implementation Managers
Over hundreds of discussions with implementation teams running in size from 1 to 100, there are a few key responsibilities that are consistent. We outline our findings below to help you build out your team or break into a new role.
Software implementation managers are the conductors of the symphony that is a SaaS project. Their responsibilities encompass a wide array of tasks that span from the initial planning stages to the post-implementation evaluation. Let’s break down their key roles:
Project Administration and Coordination
Project Planning and Strategy: Before diving into implementation, the software implementation manager will meticulously chart the course ahead. They collaborate with stakeholders to define project objectives, establish timelines, allocate resources, and create a comprehensive implementation strategy.
To be effective, you need intimate knowledge of how people use your product, the key milestones that happen early in the customer journey, and a deep understanding of past implementation projects. With this knowledge you reach what we call the “Standardize” stage. At this stage, your implementation process is templatized, and you have a working knowledge of how your product is most efficiently deployed.
Requirements Gathering: Effective implementation hinges on a deep understanding of the client’s needs. Implementation managers liaise with clients to gather detailed requirements, ensuring the software solution aligns with the organization’s goals.
Soft skills like communication, curiosity, and organization help you do this effectively. You will have to communicate with the client and your sales team to get a clear picture of what problem the client is trying to solve. You’ll then have to clearly and concisely communicate that to the broader project team.
Customization and Configuration: Often, SaaS applications need to be tailored to fit a specific organization’s processes. Implementation managers oversee the customization and configuration of the software, ensuring it addresses unique business challenges. Keep this in mind during the requirements gathering phase.
Team Coordination: Implementation is a collaborative effort. These managers assemble and lead cross-functional teams comprising developers, analysts, the client, and other experts, fostering synergy and ensuring the project’s smooth progress.
The best implementation managers pay attention to detail. Combine that with communication skills and team coordination will start to come more naturally with more implementations under your belt.
Efficient utilization of resources brings teams into what we call the “Accelerate” phase of their implementation process. You are not only responsible for coordinating your team, but you are responsible for identifying efficiencies among the resources you deploy.
Technical Knowledge and Software Expertise
Risk Management: No implementation is devoid of challenges. Software implementation managers identify potential risks, create mitigation strategies, and troubleshoot roadblocks to keep the project on track.
Risk management becomes more clear with more implementations under your belt. Use a system of record to track every implementation project. Ideally, you’ll leverage a product like Baton to track everything on a project, resource and portfolio level. With a system of record, you quickly identify bottlenecks.
Communication and Training: Clear communication is paramount. Implementation managers facilitate transparent communication among stakeholders and provide training to end-users to ensure they make the most of the new software.
This is one point where a general project manager and a software implementation manager diverge. You can’t get away with a cursory knowledge of your product and still be effective. People want to learn from experts, and a good percentage of your job is as a teacher.
Quality Assurance: Rigorous testing is imperative to ensure the software operates flawlessly. Software implementation managers oversee thorough testing, making certain that the solution meets all performance and functionality benchmarks.
Go-Live and Support: The pivotal moment arrives when the software goes live. Implementation managers closely monitor this phase, providing support, addressing concerns, and ensuring a seamless transition.
Post-Implementation Evaluation: The journey doesn’t end at implementation. As an implementation manager you conduct post-implementation evaluations to assess the success of the project, identify areas for improvement, and gather valuable insights for future endeavors.
We built the Baton resources section to help new implementation managers get their feet under them and for experienced leaders looking to get ahead. Subscribe to our newsletter for updates and best practices.