After an extensive search process, your organization is about to implement a new technology. You're understandably excited, because you genuinely imagine this new software or platform as the solution to countless organizational challenges. But having helped countless clients implement such solutions—and having implemented some ourselves—we at Masttro see it as our duty to offer some sage advice:
Do a little scenario planning.
That is to say, before beginning any significant technological installation, it’s always worth pausing to imagine what might go wrong. No, we’re not catastrophists. We’re realists, and we know from experience that the most trouble-free installations occur when troubles are faced head on.
With that in mind, here are five most common tech-implementation pitfalls, with advice on how to minimize the likelihood they’ll occur or the consequences if they should.
- Hidden costs quickly eat up your budget. Before you sign any contracts, ask the vendor for five examples of extra fees or upcharges. Do they charge by the hour for support? Must you pay more for certain modules? Next, create a budget that includes all potential costs, then ask the vendor to review it and provide honest feedback on what's missing based on their experience with similar size and types of organizations. Use these final numbers as your guide for the ultimate expense.
- Your org lacks the resources to properly implement the new technology. Additions to a tech stack generally require internal resources. To ensure you’re planning properly, identify the necessary roles and responsibilities early in the process and bring the employee(s) you task to oversee the implementation into the vendor conversation. That way they can sound alarms if they don’t believe what’s coming is doable. If you lack the internal resources, ask if the vendor works with a third party consultancy that can help manage the process and make it seamless without stressing your team.
- Your org lacks a fully formed go-to-market strategy. If you haven’t implemented such a technology it’s hard to identify the “known unknowns'' that can create issues during the rollout. The vendor, however, should be very familiar with such issues. So be sure to review your implementation plans with them, asking what elements you’re missing or underestimating. Rely on their experience to help you plan for whatever it is you don’t know you need to worry about.
- There are unexpected technology issues. Have a separate conversation with the vendor around technology hiccups, asking for specific examples of regular issues and how they are solved: Do they have a workaround protocol or a team that handles such problems? A prior understanding of the most common issues will make it less stressful when it happens with your organization.
- Your team hits the “implementation dip.” In his book “Leading in a Culture of Change,” educational reform expert Michael Fullan introduced the concept of an “implementation dip,” which is the inevitable “dip in performance and confidence as one encounters an innovation that requires new skills and new understandings.” Strong, positive leadership can help ameliorate and normalize difficult feelings among team members, so that everyone can remain focused on the task at hand. Also, work with the vendor to set up a series of small, easy wins for all.
Yes, change can be difficult. But it’s also necessary if you want to remain relevant and grow your organization. By incorporating good communication with the vendor and your team, and some advanced planning, you can prevent many of the roadblocks that often arise so that the implementation process is smooth sailing.