So, looking to improve efficiencies in your organization by implementing new technology? And you’ve identified a whiz-bang system to help make it happen? Maybe a new CRM (customer relationship management), cybersecurity, communications or ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system that will save time and money?
Terrific! After selecting the technology and vendor, now what? Your work doesn’t end with a purchase order and a signed contract. It’s really just kicking into gear.
First, the question to ask: Who is creating the requirements document for the implementation? It’s not a matter of IF you should develop a requirements document, but rather, WHO will handle this critical step.
There are three options. Is an experienced internal team compiling the requirements document? Or is your technology vendor doing it? A third option is a third-party resource who can objectively review the internal landscape, map current processes and set the stage for seamless integration with the new technology in your business.
A Requirements Document is an essential tool to ensure a successful technology implementation. Often, those who don’t recognize the importance of a requirements document, or who try to take a short cut, come to regret the misstep. Budget overruns and schedule delays will definitely surface. So, save time, money, resources and headache now by first developing a Requirements Document.
What is a Requirements Package?
A Requirements Package is a comprehensive document that provides a framework for the “guts” of the current state of systems, software, and processes. The outlined requirements provide much-needed detail of the business and serve as a bridge for the technology provider and stakeholders to realize a successful implementation. It incorporates all the needs of the business and an understanding of what the development of the technology needs to support.
Follow these 5 critical steps to creating a comprehensive Requirements Package for successful technology implementation in your organization.
STEP 1: Capture Current State Analysis
Layering in new technology into broken or inefficient existing processes is a recipe for disaster. As well, what if the new technology is incompatible with existing systems and processes?
Therefore, to prevent system integration issues, it’s critical to perform a Current State Analysis that will outline how things are currently being done – good and bad. In this step, the process mapping efforts provide a visual representation of how information, people, work and data moves from one workstream to another. The information gathered will underscore the interconnectivity of how things flow through the business and highlight where pinch-points and bottlenecks exist.
STEP 2: Develop a Needs Analysis
A Needs Analysis requires a significant investigative approach. The effort requires digging deep below the surface of how things get done in the business. A Needs Analysis is especially valuable when new technology is connected to an outdated technology system and processes. There are many processes that exist inside of other processes. Each process must be identified.
Conducting a Needs Analysis requires interviewing various team members who are involved with the process to identify process details. This effort also identifies and compares the differences between how each team member performs the same task or operation. A Needs Analysis outlines a standard approach to build out the technology within the business’s operations. The standardization and process streamlining equate to significant efficiency gains.
STEP 3: Conduct Pilot and Parallel Testing
It is important to have a clearly defined Pilot Test when integrating new technology in an organization. This step should not be overlooked. Prior to a full deployment of the new technology, make sure to perform Pilot and Parallel Testing. Pilot Testing should be performed in a small business segment of engaged Subject Matter Experts (SME’s). The Pilot Test should also be enacted in a small geographic representation of the entire affected team.
The selected Pilot Testing team should be an engaged team that consistently operates effectively at a high level. Corporate or internal communications staff should document the Pilot Test activities and communicate each aspect of the phases through internal communications channels. Effective and frequent communications will increase employee adoption of the technology when rolled-out to other areas. Full transparency of activities of the Pilot Testing team and use of the new technology is important for long-term adoption among all employees.
A similar approach should be taken during the Parallel Testing phase of the technology implementation. Efforts of Parallel Testing will ensure that system requirements are met. Internal and external customer expectations should be monitored. Once testing is validated, the project team is poised for a complete shift to the deployment of the new technology.
STEP 4: Deploy New Technology
So, now you’re ready to roll out the new technology. The Deployment strategy should account for multiple factors. First, identify the logistics involved with deployment and account for possible hurdles. Are multiple locations involved in deployment? Identify the pathway for roll-out based on teams, locations, and work shifts. The more geographic components, the greater the need for attention to detail.
Second, identify the personnel to execute the deployment. Will existing internal staff implement the new technology? If so, is this project roll-out in addition to their current workload? What is manageable for internal teams? Ensure a sufficient level of staff are dedicated to this project. It is critical to adequately project the staffing level to succeed with the deployment strategy.
Often, business leaders reach outside the organization for a dedicated deployment team. Often companies absorb this responsibility internally, only to systematically fail at deployment. A third-party external resource can be very effective to meet schedules, reduce costs and overcome on-site issues. A third-party resource can ensure accountability that all outlined details are met and limit the tendency for project “scope creep.”
Outlining the systematic deployment approach from the beginning, as part of the Requirements Document, will maintain project costs, projected schedule and enhance adoption success.
STEP 5: Incorporate Business Intelligence (B.I.)
Business Intelligence has become one of the most critical elements of technology implementation. The data collected and analyzed by the BI team will guide the measurement of the project and determine the effectiveness of the new technology. Account for the BI team’s capabilities in the Requirements Document and throughout the implementation process. Trust your BI team and the essential data they can provide. Manage the project and business with full visibility. Having the ability to capture a baseline measurement pre-deployment, and evaluate it along designated milestones, will ensure that the right things are measured. In turn, measurement of the technology effectiveness will reinforce that the investment was spot-on.
When a technology implementation sputters or fails, it’s not always the fault of the technology. The root of successful implementation lies in the preparation. Don’t skip developing a Requirements Document that includes these 5 important steps.
Contact RTG Solutions Group for assistance in developing your Requirements Document for your next project.