How to Lead A Software Implementation Like a Champ
Leading a software implementation can be a massive undertaking—especially when you’re onboarding 5,000 employees in just two days.
But with the right attitude and a lot of preparation, it can be done.
Just ask Yitsy Montano.
Montano and her team at Ultimate Software implemented iOFFICE within the past year and learned a lot throughout the process. The winner of our Rockstar Rookie award graciously shared those lessons with us at our Big Easy Workplace Summit.
Technology and the Employee Experience At Ultimate Software
Ultimate Software is a leading provider of cloud-based human capital management solutions, serving more than 5,600 companies in 180 countries. Its software helps HR professionals manage payroll, talent and employee surveys, among other things.
The company’s motto, “People First,” is the driving force behind everything from its products and customer service to the employee experience.
The Weston, Florida-based company is well-known for being an exceptional place to work. In 2018, it ranked No. 3 on Fortune’s prestigious 100 Best Places to Work list and was No. 1 on the list of the 100 Best Workplaces for Millennials and No. 1 on the 100 Best Workplaces for Women the same year.
It has also topped Fortune’s Best Workplaces In Technology list for the third consecutive year. The company has long been known for using innovative technology to improve processes for HR professionals, and it was important that it did the same for its own employees.
The ease of use, employee-centric features and like-minded mission were what led the Ultimate Software leadership team to choose iOFFICE, Montano said.
Software Implementation: 6 Steps To Success
Once the decision had been made, Montano and her project manager, Zona Creary, began the software implementation process, following these six steps:
1. Map Out The Project In Phases
As Benjamin Franklin famously said, by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.
That’s why it’s so important to start with a written plan for your software implementation. The plan should include key project milestones and deadlines, and it should be visible to everyone at your organization.
2. Set Clear Roles And Responsibilities
No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it. And it takes your entire team to pull off a successful software implementation.
Take the time to outline roles and responsibilities. Ultimate Software had many key stakeholders, including:
- An executive sponsor — the person authorizing and approving the budget for the implementation
- A project manager — someone to oversee associated tasks and ensure the team met key deadlines
- A business analyst — someone who could ensure the software implementation aligned with company goals
- A subject matter expert — someone who could answer questions about specific requirements
- A system administrator — the person who assists with all technical aspects of the software implementation
- An internal communications manager — the person who kept the company updated on pertinent information related to the implementation
- An event coordinator — someone to keep employees engaged and excited about what’s to come (especially if you’re planning a launch party)
3. Obtain Clear Requirements From Your IT Team
The importance of involving the IT department from the very beginning cannot be overstated. When you’re implementing software with many different features, you might feel pressure from other departments to add more and more. To stay on track and on budget, you have to stay focused.
That’s why it helps to have written requirements from the IT team. Consulting with IT will also ensure your software implementation meets all security requirements. For instance:
- Do you need a single sign-on (SSI) for authentication?
- How should imports be managed?
- Do you need a vanity URL that’s easy for employees to remember?
4. Allow Plenty of Time To Gather And Validate Your Data
Gathering and validating all the workplace data you’ll need to upload will likely be the most time-consuming part of your software implementation. Make sure to allocate enough time for it. And don’t assume the data you have is accurate—especially if you’ve never used workplace software before.
One lesson Ultimate Software learned the hard way: Be prepared to do walkthroughs of every building to validate the floor plans you have on file. Set aside time to label every single desk, space and asset—and make sure you use consistent space classification standards!
5. Train & Document
The best way to learn is to teach.
As Ultimate Software prepared to launch four software modules in 13 different buildings, Montano received training from the iOFFICE implementation team. She trained other administrators and team leaders, then asked them to train others. In addition to onsite training sessions, there were multiple recurring sessions to accommodate remote employees.
Another lesson learned the hard way: To host a Zoom meeting with more than 100 participants, you need a paid account and a special license for large meetings!
In addition to hosting training sessions, provide video and audio recordings, manuals and quick reference sheets. Employees will appreciate it, and it will also make it easier to train new employees.
6. Make It Fun For Employees
Managing a software implementation is a massive undertaking, but one that can provide tremendous value to your organization. Don’t forget to take time to celebrate when it’s finished—and remind employees of how the new system benefits them.
Ultimate Software hosted a go-live party with the theme of the 1990s TV show, Where In the World Is Carmen San Diego?
Employees were rewarded for completing a “passport challenge” that required them to download the iOFFICE Hummingbird workplace app and use it to find people, find places and make reservations and requests.
There was plenty of cake, swag and prizes to go around.
“It took a lot of hard work and dedication,” Montano said, “but in the end, it was well worth it.”
Ultimate Software now uses iOFFICE for space, move, service request and wayfinding, in addition to using the Hummingbird app. The team is working on the next phase of expanding the software to 10 other regional offices. And now that they have one large implementation under their belts, they expect the second round to be a breeze!