Any change in process or procedure will undoubtedly not go according to plan; have some bumps and bruises; be stressful, and at least at one point in the process, make you question whether you are doing the right thing.
Never fear though. There are steps you can take up front to help make the process easier to manage and increase the likelihood of foreseeing potential roadblocks.
Before beginning any project to implement new technology or any technology change over plan, there are some questions you want to ask and answer and some steps you want to ensure are outlined for clarity.
1. Align with your strategic goals
Before doing anything make sure you take the time to consider whether or not the changes you are planning to make are aligned with the company’s overall strategic goals and mission. What is the purpose of the project and the intended outcome? What specific strategic goal does this align with to make this particular project a priority right now?
2. Who needs to be involved in this project?
Carefully consider all the variables here. Is it just your IT team? If you’re changing over tax technology, does your tax team need to be involved? The answer to that one is likely yes. You always want to have at least a sample of your end user team involved in the process when implementing new technology.
Your IT team may be phenomenal, but if they are not the ones utilizing the software practically on a day-to-day basis, they will not foresee all the issues. You also may need finance approvals or your asset procurement team. Identify all these needs up front so everyone who needs to be informed is aware of the project and their roles.
3. Define the scope of the project
What’s the scope of implementation? How many licenses do you need? How long will it take to implement the change, test it, and then train everyone? Answering these questions can also help you look at a timeline coordinated with all the calendars of everyone you identified in step one. Now you have the pieces needed to start building out a comprehensive flow chart of the work that needs to be done, who needs to do it, and when.
4. Define audience communication
Once implemented, define who else may be impacted by the change. You have identified users and other key players need during the implementation process but do your clients need to be informed? Will this change impact them? Maybe you’re implementing new tax technology but does the accounting department need to know this, will they send information to a different location? Look at ways that this change may impact outside parties and communicate well in advance to avoid surprises. Or, if your department experiencing the change will be inoperable for any period of time during the changeover period.
5. Determine how you will evaluate success
How will you know the project is successful? Typically having technology changes be “live” isn’t the end of the road. Inevitably there are bugs, kinks, and things you didn’t consider. Make sure you determine ahead of time how you will collect feedback and address any open items to ensure that not only the transition is successful, but that the changes are achieving their intended purpose.
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