Implementing software in your company is often a process with many challenges. How will you manage the progress and changes, resolve conflicts and ensure that the implementation works as planned during the evaluation and selection phase?
We provide you with details on the software implementation plan steps and best practices to put the odds on your side and ensure the successful implementation of your software. Stay tuned!
What Is Software Implementation Plan?
Software implementation plan is a detailed roadmap to plan, manage, and control a software release through various stages.
The need for software implementation steps and procedures occurs when you have already selected a reliable development team to run your software project and implement new software of any scope. Software implementation processes include steps during which a software solution for a company is technically implemented, configured, tested, and operationalized before going live.
Why Software Implementation Plan is Important?
Software implementation project plan aims to improve the quality, speed, and efficiency of software delivery. This is an essential issue allowing your team to get the right information at the right time and thus promote a successful launch.
Planning is one of the most important phases of the project life cycle. During it, the manager collects detailed information about the project to be launched and places it in the project schedule.
The document is the final result of the planning phase, is approved before any work begins, and becomes the most important and reliable source of information about the upcoming project.
Basically, the project schedule is used to document agreements, facilitate interaction between stakeholders, and record the scope of work and financial investments.
The document should contain answers to 4 questions:
Why? Why does it need to be funded? What problem will it solve?
What? What must be done to achieve the goals?
Who? Who will be involved and what will be their responsibilities?
When? When will the major milestones be completed, what is the timeline for the project?
Using software to manage the project team and workflows is quite common for many managers, especially in large companies.
Take a look at our blog post - Best tools for software development management!
The implementation plan is a part of the release management cycle comprising five stages: planning, developing, testing, preparing, and deploying a software update. Each step is crucial in achieving a successful delivery properly.
Now it’s high time you put a software implementation process flow in place to maximize the value of your new software and quickly take advantage of the process and efficiency improvements that the new product will bring.
Main Points of Successful Software Implementation Plan
Regardless of your industry or the type of software you are implementing, the following steps will help you achieve successful implementation and get the most out of your new software.
1. Find a reliable vendor
Usually, this step is omitted when talking about the software implementation project plan since the vendor is already chosen. However, we’d like to emphasize this point. The software vendor is a key part of your deployment plan. The extent (and cost) of the performed implementation is 95% of the success of your software.
The reliability of a vendor means not only the reputation of the software development company. The best-fit company option depends on several factors, such as the background with different technology stacks, experience in cloud infrastructure, and the desire to create a scalable architecture for you.
Choosing collaboration with a dedicated team of IT engineers means the comprehensive investment of software developers in the building process of your product. Every team member is focused on achieving your business goals to create a fully-fledged competitive product based on the latest IT trends.
2. Plan Appropriately
A software implementation project should cover all stages of your release, encompassing all of the processes involved in making the software work in your organizational environment.
The IT application deployment plan typically includes these basic steps:
- Assess the company's needs to ensure that they are all covered;
- Map your operational processes to meet the functional and technical requirements of the system;
- Analyze the needs for the correct installation of the software;
- Install the software;
- Customize and configure the software;
- Test the software and make the necessary modifications to correct the problems revealed in the test phase;
- Integrate with existing software within your organization;
- Train key users so that all users are aware of the new system,
- Deliver the software in the so-called “go-live” phase.
You've identified the goals, timelines, and phases of the project, and you've outlined the key points. It's a good time to create a detailed schedule that outlines each task and the time to complete it. Don't be too optimistic by modeling the best possible situation. Be realistic about your colleagues' strengths, and don't forget about vacations, holidays, and possible delays for other reasons.
Once you have developed a comprehensive plan with a detailed description and deadlines for each step and have assigned the responsible persons, it is much easier to implement the software. Below, we will consider some of these points in detail.
3. Define requirements to get a clear vision
Knowing your request in detail simplifies the collaboration and guarantees that the final result will match your expectations. The manager should have a clear idea of what the project is for, what its goals are, and why it is worth the money invested. The answers to these questions will help the team, management, investors, and other stakeholders see that the idea is worthy of attention, and that its implementation will not only bring satisfaction, but also benefit.
The project discovery phase may be handy if you have trouble transforming your idea into a clear vision.
Project discovery phase is a step-by-step 4 - 8 weeks process for converting ideas or challenges into the concept of the future product with the set of features that best meets user and business needs with all required software documentation.
After the product discovery phase, you will get the following:
- User navigation map;
- Software requirements specification.
This step will ensure that ideas will be developed most efficiently and cost-effectively and eliminate uncertainty and risks during the software implementation.
4. Assign the responsible team members to track progress
Communication is always the top among software implementation plan steps and a key to positive and efficient results of collaboration. Get to know the people with whom you will be working, introduce participants to one another, and discuss organizational issues. Assess the needs and expectations of your colleagues, and discuss how to implement feedback between your team and your clients as you work.
Coordination dates must be set regularly, and the project status should be discussed in the team. In addition, short-term feedback loops from individual project members are helpful. Time should therefore also be regularly set aside for project calls. In this way, the project manager can uncover any risks at an early stage, because often individuals do not immediately sound the alarm when bottlenecks occur. In addition, the use of resources such as personnel, time and budget as well as the project status must be carried out in an actual/target comparison.
In the future, this will help minimize misunderstandings and maintain a pleasant work atmosphere. By assigning team members and sharing areas of responsibility, you ensure that your project is under control.
Resources are the employees or professionals involved and the resources needed to achieve the company's business goals. Identify and assign employees to tasks, clearly articulate the area of responsibility and the expectations you place on them.
When creating software implementation training plan, take into account the experience of each specialist, their professional qualities and so-called "soft skills". All this contributes to the competent allocation and management of resources, and increases the effectiveness of the team.
In working with the outsourced software company, you can define the terms and conditions of the work process so that you can be either actively involved in the decision-making or just wait for the final predetermined result. For this, choose an engagement model that fits best for you.
5. Launch the test model for your project
The testing phase is arguably more important than the development, as it ensures that the software works properly and is ready for production.
Ask team members to identify and fix any bugs that may arise and perform usability tests. Setting up usability testing will depend on the complexity of your release, but this is an ideal opportunity to have users try out your software in exchange for compensation.
Here is a list of tasks you can use at the beginning of the testing phase:
- Start usability testing;
- Fix or reduce software risks;
- Spot software bugs;
- Perform regression tests.
The testing phase is a big part of any release plan. It can be time-consuming if the modifications to be made are numerous.
6. Prepare a software release
From the start of implementation until the new system is 100% operational, your organization needs to monitor the process and measure the results to improve its efficiency and profitability.
During a software release’s preparation phase, your team must complete the necessary changes and optimize product functionality within a simulation environment. This ensures that every piece of software is up and running and ready to come into the world.
One or more quality assurance checks will not be enough to verify that all the features work perfectly. You and your team can carry out these checks, although it is a good idea to ask for help from colleagues who are not working on the project and can bring a fresh perspective to the software.
7. Implement the product
The last stage of a software release requires the use of deployment management. The latter represents the process of concretizing the original concept of the software and consists of placing it in a real environment.
To deploy the release, it is essential to perform more testing to ensure that the software remains operational in a real environment. Furthermore, once completed, it is advisable to evaluate the integrations and make the necessary changes to improve functionality is advisable.
Seven mistakes in software implementation
Error 1: Different responsibilities and contact persons lead to confusion:
Solution: Each company should provide a primary contact for the software vendor. This communicates new requirements, questions and suggestions directly to the project manager.
Error 2: There is no specific schedule of software implementation. This leads to delays.
Solution: In the project plan, agree on completion dates for each task.
Error 3: Lack of regular communication between business partners
Solution: Organize an online conference at least twice a month in which the respective project manager and, if necessary, the management take part.
Error 4: Missing specifications for new requirements
Solution: During the introduction of new software, customers often have additional requests. In these cases, a specification must be drawn up for each new requirement that precisely defines the scope. This is the only way the software manufacturer can realistically estimate the effort.
Error 5: The software project manager announces binding deadlines without having agreed them internally.
Solution: Project managers should always coordinate internally with the planning teams. Otherwise it can happen that announced deadlines are not met because the internal processes have not been coordinated.
Error 6: Sticking to the go-live date even though there have been changes.
Solution: In the event of changes or additional functions, the description and assignments should be checked carefully. The schedule is also important. Only then can it be determined whether the schedule and the go-live date can be kept.
Error 7: Set go-live date too early.
Solution: Every software manufacturer should consider their own release plan. All functions must have been checked by a test team. After everything has been programmed and approved, it usually takes at least another two months before it goes live. In between there are walkthrough tests, training and sometimes a few bug fixes.
New software solutions require important IT project management tasks. Essential questions arise at the beginning, such as the profitability of new software, or whether the solution can support and achieve corporate goals.
Planning is an essential part of every manager's job. Without a detailed schedule drawn up in advance, it is difficult to imagine the work of the team as well-coordinated, successfully completed and on time.
Software implementation project plan is an efficient step for developers and customers when releasing new software. It allows you to spot production errors in real time and ensure that IT infrastructure is ready for all updates.
If you want product implementation of the highest quality and with 100% support at each stage, don’t hesitate to contact the Axon team and share your idea!