Selecting and installing a new software system is a significant undertaking for any company. Selecting a system and them implementing it can be a daunting task but if undertaken with care positive results will be achieved. The key is in planning. If each step of the process is planned and confirmed once completed the gradual path to system selection and implementation will be successful and the impact on the business will be positive. The steps below will ensure success. To view an entire article – click on the bullet point heading.
- Define Your System Requirements – Defining what you want from your system allows you to investigate possible alternatives and rule out those that don’t meet your requirements. System requirements are best defined by area of business activity as they relate to the core business processes of the organization. To produce a comprehensive system requirements definition, list the steps in each core business process and the way it works or the way you would like it to work.
- Evaluate Software System Architecture – When evaluating software systems the impact of system architecture is an extremely important factor to consider. The database, programming language, hardware requirements, operating system requirements and network/internet requirements all contribute to the usability of the system as well as the cost of ongoing maintenance and support.
- Evaluate System Integration Capabilities – The effectiveness of any system is directly affected by the extent that this area is addressed. Sales, productivity, and profits can all be positively impacted.
- Perform a Cost/Benefit Analysis – The majority of the costs in a software system implementation occur on the front end while the benefits are realized over time. A system that appears less expensive in the short run may actually be more costly in the long run and vice versa.
- Map the Business Processes to the New System – It is always the best policy to change as little as possible when implementing a new system and so the objective should be to support existing business processes without changing them. Once the transition to the new system has been completed improvements to processes can be implemented gradually.
- Develop a Phased System Implementation Plan – The ease or difficulty of a new system startup is directly related to the degree of advance planning and preparation undertaken. . A system implementation should be an evolution not a revolution.
- Manage the Training and Pilot Phases – Managing these phases of the project is best handled by developing written check lists and ensuring that each business process that will be supported by the new system is identified. Once the list of business processes is identified each one can be documented in detail so that training and pilot requirements can be defined. Finally a schedule of the steps that will be taken to complete these phases of the project should be put into writing.
- Manage the System Implementation and Startup Phases – The system support of company business processes should be reviewed, final data conversion and/or input should be planned, problem reporting and support procedures should be established and review points should be defined.
- Manage the Path to Full System Implementation – When a new software system is implemented, it will more than likely support the business processes as they existed before the new system was acquired but will not be fully utilized. The next goal should be to achieve full implementation. This requires identifying the remaining features, prioritizing them and planning the path to implementation.
- Manage the System – Software systems are part of an auto repair shop environment and need to be managed just like any other part of the business. Managing a system means monitoring the relationship between the software and the processes it supports and resolving disconnects and inefficiencies.
- Perform Periodic System Reviews – Once a software system has been fully implemented and incorporated into a company’s business processes it should be reviewed periodically to gauge its impact on the business. A good system will have a positive impact on the business it supports in terms of the marketing, sales and operations.
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