If you've been part of a software purchase and implementation before, you know that the cost of the software is often the least impactful aspect of the decision. The process of change management and shift in how you work has a far greater impact on the organization, and can make or break its success.
At 10,000ft, we offer each new team a free 14-day trial of our software, but we find that few companies really test and implement in those first 14 days. Often, the trial period is a chance to ask questions, work through some common scenarios, and vet the functionality of an application. Whatever tools you choose to support your business, at some point, you need to just take the leap and try something (with 10,000ft, you can always purchase a month-to-month plan for continued evaluation).
Below are a few things to consider that may help you take that leap, regardless of the solution you choose.
1. Set clear goals
Really, this tip pretty much applies to every successful project that has ever happened in the history of mankind. But, for some reason, it often gets missed with software selection.
Before starting the process of implementing new software, meet with all stakeholders and clearly define the project goals. Because every organization is unique, it's unrealistic that one piece of software will solve all the operational challenges in your organization (even software you build yourself, trust us here).
So, pick a few core challenges that you want to address first, and then stay focused on solving those in your selection. If the solution you decide on solves additional challenges, that’s a bonus.
Along with the goals, you'll want to identify some basic information about your operations. Below are a few areas to consider:
- What is your Organizational Structure?
- Do you plan to make changes to the organizational structure as part of the software implementation?
- Who should be responsible for which aspects of the software?
Want some help mapping your goals and workflow for your software search? Contact us for a free consultative call.
2. Tools should support your culture or the culture you want to create
At 10,000ft, we believe that culture isn’t what you do, it's how you do it.
When looking at software, there are a few areas of culture that can be supported with the tools you use.
How you communicate
Does your software support positive and open communication across the team? Can the solution be used as a tool for supporting in-person dialog? Unless your primary goal is to change the way you communicate, you may be able to find a solution that complements the way you currently work, will make implementation much easier. In 10,000ft, the Schedule and Project pages reflect the current plan of record. When teams need to make changes to the plan, they can have conversations and make changes in real time to support the decisions.
How you learn from one another
Continued learning not only builds a stronger and smarter workforce, but it also gives people satisfaction. Think about how your software will add to continued team learning either through explicit channels or through transparency of information and self direction. In 10,000ft the projects page become a knowledge base with information that all teams can use to improve future projects. This transparency helps teams learn from mistakes and celebrate success.
How you instill trust
Building trust is only possible when people have a clear understanding of expectations and the information needed to make good decisions. 10,000ft is designed to build trust by making projects the responsibility of the whole team; everyone plays a role in the delivery of great work. Team members continue to prove themselves by delivering work within those constraints.
After months of evaluating and selecting software for your team, one of the worst things that can happen is that your team refuses to actually use it. Making sure that your software pick matches your organization's culture will help ensure that it is a success.
3. Include stakeholders in the process
When people feel like they have a say in a decision or a voice in the process, they're far more likely to feel positive about the outcome.
We recommend that you identify a core team to find and implement the software. Ideally, this core team includes representatives from multiple departments and levels within the organization so once you select the software, there are champions throughout the team who can help support the decision and process.
Early in the process, hold a meeting or send an email sharing that a core team is looking for software to support some specific goals for your organization. Ask your team members if they've had success with software at previous jobs or which solutions they've heard good things about. Also, share the why behind the search - highlighting how the new software will benefit everyone.
Some sample "why" statements to get you thinking:
- “We want to improve clarity of communication across our team so we always know what we should be working on."
- "We want to reduce our reliance on freelancers so we can increase project profitability."
- "We want to go after the next level of client work and need software to support that growth."
4. Comparing features takes more than a checklist
Once you've defined the "why" behind your search, you can prioritize the core jobs that you need the software to do. Jobs are not features; jobs are the root functions that you require out of a software solution.
Take something like Single Sign On logins (SSO). SSO or a Federated ID is a mechanism for using one company-set password and username to login to a site or product (think your Google or Facebook login). SSO is a feature, but the job or core need in that feature is: “We want to ensure that our users can securely login to the application and we want to be able to easily revoke access if they leave the company.”
Positioning your requirement list in the form of the job is a far better way for comparing one solution vs. another because you can measure which will be best at solving the core pain.
SSO is a pretty straightforward feature and job; a feature like Time Tracking is more nuanced. Time tracking is a method to understand what's happening in your organization. There can be a variety of reasons why you’d want to track time, for example:
- You need to demonstrate details about completed work for clients
- You need to balance billable vs. non-billable time
- You want to understand where you leak money
- You want to carve out more time for special projects
Time tracking also relies heavily on the users to contribute reliable data. Any friction in the user experience diminishes the quality of the data needed to meet your objective from above. So part of the core job of my time tracking requirement needs to be ease of use. Preparing your requirements in this format will help you measure how well a feature solves the job and how much real value you'll be getting from the solution in the end.
Once you've narrowed your search and you're ready to present the potential solutions to the group of stakeholders, start the pitch out by presenting core goals you identified at the beginning. Then, explain how each tool solves those jobs.
This will make it much easier for the group to compare the different solutions, because your team can have a discussion around how well each piece of software helps you do the core jobs, without going down the rabbit hole of pure feature comparisons.
As always, we’re here to help. Let us know if you have questions. We’re happy to set up a call or a demo with someone from our team to help walk through your unique business needs and see how 10,000ft can help support your process. You can also register to join one of our weekly webinars here.
- The 10,000ft Team