DO know your goals
You should have a thorough dialogue with your software provider about what you want from the software, including the features you currently find invaluable, and any features that your old software didn’t have but you’re looking for from your new provider. Discuss future business needs and any objectives you might have. By setting your aims and objectives clearly, you can avoid ‘scope creep’ and stay focused on what the upgrade is trying to achieve.
DON’T forget about hardware
New software might be more resource intensive or require different peripherals for all features to work correctly. Speak to your software provider about the hardware requirements of the new software, and whether you can obtain the necessary items at discount through them. Double check you have all the cables and peripherals you need at least a week before ‘go live’ day.
DO plan your training schedule
Training is a vital part of the implementation process. All users should be comfortable using the software prior to the switch. If not, those efficiency savings you expected the new software to provide will never emerge. It’s always best to schedule training sessions, else training will be pushed to one side as day-to-day business demands take precedence.
DON’T automatically choose the cheapest form of training
Your software provider should offer you a choice of training programmes, including user workshops, onsite training, online training and a ‘train the trainer’ approach, where a single staff member is trained and teaches the rest. Cheaper training options may be sufficient if your staff are highly computer literate and learn quickly, but if you’re at all unsure, it’s best to opt for a pricier, more thorough training programme. Training is critical, so don’t skimp on it unless you’re sure your staff can cope.
DO use the switch as a chance to tidy your data
Bringing your historical data over to your new system is tricky but essential. It’s a little more complicated that copying and pasting a database. Instead, data may need to be manipulated and converted so that it fits the new system. Use this as an opportunity to tidy up your data and delete records that you no longer need and are just slowing down your system.
‘Go live’ day is always going to be a slightly scary experience for your company, but by preparing well you can give yourself the best chance of a smooth upgrade.