For any organization taking on the implementation of a new order management system is always challenging and a bit stressful at times. There are a myriad of articles on how to successfully implement a new system but one item we recommend to our clients is to have organized a strong implementation team.
You, as the client, need to start with a strong Project Manager (PM). This person may have already been the lead for the order management system selection process and understand the total business. Without this leadership role your company will have paid out most if not all software license costs and not achieve successful implementation. With most contracts, the company pays most all of the license costs well in advance of the “Go Live” date. Professional or Implementation Services from the vendor often require a deposit and are invoiced as they are used. This means that 85% to 100% of the total system costs are paid before “Go Live”.
Depending on the complexity of the integrations and other systems being implemented at the same time, the PM needs to have enough knowledge about the day-to-day running of the business to make recommendations to management where process changes are necessary vs. modifying the new order management system. Most all vendors kick off a system implementation with a gap or scoping process that walks through each functional area of the business to understand how it operates and will or will not fit the base application. This process can last a couple of weeks or more and will identify where there is a gap, and if a modification needs to be made or the company needs to change their operating procedure(s) to meet the functionality of the new system. We highly recommend the latter, whenever possible, to minimize the risks and the costs of the modifications.
The PM is responsible for keeping the project on track and identifying any situations that may impact the targeted "Go Live" date. I say targeted as you need to have a backup or secondary date that you can comfortably move to if there are unforeseen delays that will prevent you from meeting the original "Go Live" date. This may seem obvious but you should select to implement a new order management system during your slowest selling part of the year to minimize the risks, and to have time for all personnel to get familiar with the new system without the undo pressure to manage the business at a peak period as well.
For the PM to be successful, they need to report to a project steering committee or to the senior member of management who is responsible for the project. This communication chain is also key to the project’s success as the PM will most likely not have the authority to make business decisions without management’s understanding and commitment to the decision. This communication should be accomplished through regular reporting of the project status with regards to the project plan, noting any items that are behind and if it will have any impact on the overall success of the implementation. Additionally, a regularly scheduled meeting with the project steering committee needs to be established.
Having the best PM is not a guarantee that the implementation will be a success. Successful order management system implementations are a commitment from all users that will be impacted by the new system and therefore a team effort. Getting everyone on the team involved and keeping them informed and engaged will greatly assist with achieving a successful and on-time implementation.