Implementing a new cloud software can be very intimidating if you are not comfortable with computer software in the first place. However, even if you are not a computer whiz, you can learn how to do it, and your firm can take advantage of all the benefits of the cloud systems available in the tech age.
Implement a Cloud System
1. Create a detailed implementation plan
The first step is to make a plan for the overall implementation of the system; this will save time, and you can then take advantage of the system as soon as you buy the license(s). The plan will allow you to have everything ready so you can start working on your software as soon as possible. I would suggest taking into account the following areas in your plan:
A. System set-up: The initial step is to research how the system is built and how you want to adapt it to your needs. Here you will have to make some decisions:
Who: In this step, figure out who will do the initial set-up. It is possible you are working with an IT person if you are paying for implementation, but more than likely, you will probably do it yourself if it is your first system.
How: Analyze how you want the infrastructure of the system to work: available controls, how information flows, and how different modules in the system operate, for example. Even if someone else is setting up the system, I still recommend becoming familiar with how the system is configured. Some of the more basic systems are easy to set-up and are very intuitive with many features customizable to your needs. Your preferences can always be adjusted in the future.
B. Data transfer: Depending on the program you are currently using, you will need to download the data you already have and upload it to the new system. Because every system is different, you may have a hard time recreating data from the past in the current system. If uploading all your prior information is not possible or too costly for you, you can choose to upload information only after a certain date. For example, if your cutoff is at the beginning of the current year, only upload the current year’s information and ignore data from years before. In this case, prior data will need to be archived for future access.
C. Training: The next phase will be to develop a plan to train your employees. The help sections and forums for the systems have documentation that will help you develop your plan to bring your users onboard. Fortunately, system interfaces are becoming more intuitive, which makes training easier.
D. User adoption: Develop a plan for the order in which users will start using the system. Some topics to consider: who will be the first department to use the system, what will happen to prior systems, and if there will be an overlap while the new system is coming online. Instead of buying all the licenses immediately, start dates can be staggered to save costs.
E. Timing: Wasted time can be one of the biggest problems in system implementation. To avoid unnecessary delays, set deadlines (even if they are just for yourself) for the completion of the different steps in your plan.
Difficulties can be smoothed out by laying out your plan with other users involved.
2. Start the implementation process
Now that you have thought out all the details, you can start the implementation process. Sometimes, the software company will assist you, so be sure to ask and take advantage of this.
Start setting up the system as planned. Usually, the modules are already configured for standard use. If you are short on time, you can start operating with a basic system set-up and then take time in the future weeks and months to fine-tune the controls, automation, and reporting you would like to add. Sometimes all it takes to get started is changing some names and adding your users, and you are set to go. Other times, of course, the implementation can take several months.
You will also need to upload all the relevant data to your new software. Users’ usernames, passwords, and permitted accesses are generated in this step. It is best to prepare all the access and security items before training for better user adoption. This prior work will allow the team to hit the ground running.
Implementation is usually messy, so expect complications. Stay diligent with your plan and solve the issues that arise. Persevere, and it will get done.
3. Train your employees on how to use your new software
To reach proficiency with the new software, you will need to conduct training for all the employees that will use the software. If possible, help them customize it to their needs, and review all the features with them. The goal is to get them as comfortable with it as possible; you might find that some of your employees will embrace the change but expect some to be a bit more resistant.
The more personalized the training, the better. It is best to organize training by team, and if possible, to have the leader of each team conduct it. This will also empower each team to handle questions or comments about the software as they arise.
Set up a feedback process. User feedback is extremely important to the success and adoption of the software. Make changes as they arise, and take in to account all feedback. Your business, software, and processes will be better because of it.
Start Implementing Your Cloud System Today
The process of implementing cloud software means there will be a big investment in time and money, but as we have seen firsthand, the benefits outweigh the costs in all aspects. Your firm will work better and grow faster with the help of a successfully implemented cloud software.