Should I Hire a Third Party Consultant to Evaluate & Implement an IWMS?
Implementing an IWMS can be an expensive and time-consuming endeavor. The potential for setbacks and unexpected expenses are a very real threat. So, it is critical that you have a plan-of-action going into it. Each team member must know their role and a well laid-out strategy must be in place well before implementation begins. To ensure your investment meets your organization’s dynamic needs, the planning should begin during the software evaluation phase. This will make sure your business’ processes are solid and that the system you choose supports those procedures, both now, and as they evolve.
To help avoid any costly mistakes, many enterprises hire a third party consultant - someone who can guide you through the process, from beginning to end. The level of service you may receive from a consultant varies from client to client, based on need. Many are straightforward, simply helping to determine the level of IWMS features that are needed, while others are more complex and may be strategizing with the client to implement a strategy that not only implements system, but also provides a competitive edge for an organization, within their particular field.
Is your company looking to invest in a new or upgraded Integrated Workplace Management System? To better understand the process, it’s useful to consider the advantages and disadvantages of external consulting vs. utilizing your insider resources.
Most Common IWMS Implementation Mistakes
The decision to handle this process internally or externally is critical to the project’s success, and there are pros and cons to both. Your primary concern should be time and knowledge. Do you have enough manpower to assign specific roles? Do the individuals work well together and do they have the time to dedicate to this project while still performing their regular duties?
To help aid you in your decision, let’s take a look at some of the most commonly cited implementation mistakes.
Mistake #1: Not enough time spent on planning
For an investment of this magnitude, you cannot simply wing it. Many managers are anxious to get the project started and fail to dedicate the proper amount of time to planning. This typically leads to confusion later, as project managers are unsure as to where the software fits in and how they will enhance current processes for maximized efficiency.
Before you even begin considering which vendor to align yourself with, your organization should conduct an internal audit of all processes and policies. Put together a team composed of key members from every department. Listen to their input and really spend the time evaluating where inefficiencies lie and how you would like to solve them. This phase of the project defines where you go from here and should not be overlooked. If you feel you do not have the capability to properly evaluate in-house, this would be the time to hire a third-party consultant.
Mistake #2: Underestimating the time and resources needed for the project
Many project managers make the mistake of grossly underestimating the time and resources required for software implementation. To calculate the man-hours involved, consider this formula: "The time involved can be estimated by dividing the cost of the software by 100. For example, $20,000 for software will take approximately 200 man-hours or five weeks to implement using a certified consultant. Double that number if you plan to self-implement with minimal professional assistance." Like any big project, set aside ample time for each stage, and design a strategy that includes accountability and assign individuals who are skilled and knowledgeable.
Mistake #3: Not properly evaluating vendors
Your first vendor correspondence will typically be with a sales team; the individual whose job is to sell a product. While most are honest and up-front about their software’s capabilities, you should conduct your own research when vetting vendors. Always ask for references and conduct several interviews, both in-person and via telephone. A RFP is a great way to compile all the information you need, as well as communicate what you are looking for in this software implementation.
Mistake #4: Not aligning goals with the system’s key features
Many businesses make the mistake of purchasing all available modules, without ever understanding the different features and how they can work for you. Once you have evaluated organizational inefficiencies and devised a list of goals, spend time reviewing these with your software vendor. Many companies choose to implement one module at a time. This gives their workforce an opportunity to understand how the system works and the value behind it, without feeling overwhelmed. And we all know - if you have employee support, the entire process will go a lot smoother.
Although much of our focus has been on the potential pitfalls of implementing an IWMS, the advantages are endless, when the right strategy is imposed.
Planning with a consultant
By utilizing a professional in the initial planning stage, you will be able to tap into the experience and expertise garnered from steering projects like your own in the past. See problems and solutions from a new angle with a different set of eyes.
Time and resource Management
As mentioned above, a third party professional will have a more realistic estimation of time and resources truly needed to complete your implementation project. Often, there are hidden tasks and necessities which siphon off from your original budgeted time and resources. Help to identify areas which may require more of you and your team than previously realized.
By using a third party, you are asking professionals to evaluate your plan and needs, as well as the other professionals, the vendors, who will be performing the implementation, as wells following up once the implementation is complete. An experienced third party consultant will often be familiar with the working practices of many vendors and will most likely be able to align your organization with the vendor which best suits your needs and style of business.
Maybe you aren’t sure which modules you’ll need first and which can be added later or disregarded all together, based on the needs of your business. A good consultant will be able to asses all of your needs, both short term and long term and then make the best suggestions for how you should proceed and which pieces you will find the most value in.
If you are feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of evaluating your organization’s needs and aren’t sure you have the manpower to properly dedicate to each phase, a third party consultant might be the answer for you. Our checklist: A Simple Guide to Successful FM Software Implementation is a great reference, offering a step-by-step guide as to what to expect during which phase of the project. Refer to this to help with your implementation strategy and to decide if your management team needs outside help with your IWMS selection and implementation.