How to maximize the return on your software investment

This is a guest post from Diana Eskander at Genius Project

The success of your software implementation is a two-way street. All systems work best when the people using them are fully on board and making the most out of the features and services offered.
It wasn’t too long ago, that your company made the leap and invested in software that promised to radically improve your business. Whether it’s to automate your billing process, manage customer information or plan your projects, most companies can’t survive without their application software. Often, most end users are only utilizing a small fraction of the features available. Which means many companies are paying major dollars, without necessarily reaping all the benefits.

This white paper explores simple but necessary strategies for maximizing the return on your software investment.

Employee buy-in

After performing due diligence for gathering your company requirements and ensuring that the software is in fact, suitable for your organization, the most important next step is to get employee buy-in. Generally speaking, employees are the ones inputting the required information into the system for reporting and tracking purposes. Without their buy-in, which ideally, should be addressed before purchasing the software, you cannot be sure just how well the system is going to be received or adopted.

Whoever is going to be using the system the most, needs to be a major part of both the decision-making and purchasing process. Ultimately, there is no greater factor to how well your software is implemented and utilized, then how often and how diligently the users, use it.

Take advantage of the free-trial period offered by most software providers. Have some of your team members try the solution before buying it. This is something that we insist companies do when they’re considering Genius Project as their enterprise project management software.

There needs to be a person or people within the organization who are designated for making sure team members share their input during the tool selection process and that they have access to training and additional resources. This ambassador if you will, needs to serve as a role model for using the tool the proper way.

Adoption by your team members is truly the most critical success factor.

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Training

Training your users on the new system cannot be overlooked, and this training should go beyond the frontline of users. Anyone who will be directly or indirectly implicated by the system should understand its use, and how the information is gathered, stored and manipulated. Leadership needs to be involved in this training too.

Upfront training is critical for obvious reasons; people need to know how to use the various features of the system and to understand how this affects, or more accurately, changes, their daily processes. But beyond the initial onboarding, training needs to be ongoing. As users get more adapted to the system, and the idea of using it, they’ll grasp more from the training. At this point, they have a better idea of the context in which they will be using it, and ideally, how it improves their working process. Further, once the company or department knows how people are using the application, they can more readily pinpoint what areas need to be improved and explored.

One of the greatest resources at this stage, are the people who use the system the most – which is not necessarily, the IT department. Encourage these people to help others and reward them for doing so. Take advantage of all the training materials and opportunities offered by your software provider, such as, webinars, online tutorials and the Help Desk.

Further, we suggest investing in specialized training. Not all users use the system in the same way, ie. Project managers and team members may use it in very different ways. It’s important, and valuable to specify the training for specific users.

Stay in close communication with your sales rep

There is no better way to get your feedback and suggestions heard than to communicate them directly to the person who guided you from being a prospect to their software buyer. By staying in communication with your representative, you can benefit from their expertise. If the software you’re using is the lifeline of your business, it’s definitely in your best interest to nurture that relationship.

Respond to customer surveys, provide feedback, testimonials and participate in case studies. You have the opportunity to represent your industry and what you need, and to get your ideas and questions heard from the source.

Your representatives want to know how they can help you get the most out of your investment, so be receptive to their communication efforts and don’t hesitate to reach out to them directly when further support is needed.

Implement new upgrades

Your software vendor works hard to continuously improve their product, based on client feedback, requests and recommendations. These improvements are specifically designed to make the use of the system easier and more effective. Keep your system up to date! Your IT department should have the code updates for the latest version, with all the latest features. One of them most important reasons for updating your software is for security. The reality is that there are hackers are always trying to break their way into online systems and applications. Software providers stay ahead of the curve by performing these regular updates.

Support and SLAs (Service Level Agreements)

An SLA keeps the terms of agreement between the vendor and the software buyer clear and comprehensible. The client knows what services it can expect to receive and the provider is held accountable for its performance. An SLA is important for any significant service relationship, and most providers are ready to supply a standard version.

Change management

One of the biggest challenges that comes with implementing any new software is managing the change it brings in the way people work. It’s challenging to shift people’s habits and processes in a new direction, but it is often necessary for growth and evolution. When adopting a new tool like PPM software, this can provide the perfect window to rethink some of your project management methodology and processes. Utilizing a PPM consultant at this stage can help transform your PPM to the next level, and help to communicate the value of these changes to your entire team.

Conclusion

Ultimately, the most successful software implementation, in terms of maximizing the value of your investment, comes down to understanding what you really want the software to do, and then translating that into action through your most valuable resource, people.

To learn about how Genius Project supports its clients after their purchase please see the following resources:

Implementation Services

Standard SLA

Guided Training

Self-Service Training

Customer Support

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