Whether you choose off-the-shelf or bespoke software use these 5 steps to work out the detail to help your final product match your vision.

1. Build a Proper Business Case (Run the Numbers)

Analysing the implications of the software and it’s potential for Return on Investment (ROI), identifying the users and getting feedback are the first key steps. Identify and focus on key points. What do you stand to gain? Or Lose? Are they equal, or is one larger than the other? ROI is essential yet often neglected until return is low or the business starts to make a loss.

Include investment costs in your calculations, accommodate the unexpected. This includes time and resources as well as budget. Once the basics are covered look at other factors; the software’s relevance to workflow optimization, the target end-user and how it will improve your internal ecosystem. Remember, many projects fail simply due to a lack of a business case.

2. Collaboration/Reducing Abstractions

Keep a project on track by presenting concrete parameters to your software engineer or vendor. Use user feedback to distil the essence of what you want to achieve. Specificity means that the engineer or vendor can make reality as close to your vision as possible.

If you have no internal development teams collaboration with an outside partner is a good way forward. Without good development your blueprint will not be implemented in a way to make your proposition successful.

Incorporate this into your business case and refine the ROI. You need to get down to the most minute details of your project and pass that to your implementation partner.

3. Avoid Scope Creep

You are unlikely to hit design perfection immediately; software development is an iterative process requiring feedback from users, adjustments and refinements over time, it simply will not happen happen overnight. Forget this at your peril as it inevitably leads to soaring costs. Make sure that you focus on the small details without losing sight of the bigger picture. Some of the signs of scope creep are:

  • Deadlines arrive without progress or are constantly extended.
  • Too many people talking to the development team leading to constant changes in spec and unauthorized additions to the functionality of the software.
  • The end foal is lost of changed constantly.
  • Users no longer the primary concern.
  • ROI and cost benefit analysis is not considered.

If you see these symptoms you need to pull back on the reins, restate and clarify your vision and accept that the software will not be perfect from day 1.

4. Incentivize to Increase Adoption.

People tend to be wary of new things so they have to be encouraged to move away from old ways of doing things and embrace the new. There is no ROI without a strong user base. If the UX is poor then the software needs to address the interface to allow for increased productivity. Look at end-user ability and ensuring that your package covers 90% of the users then offer training for the remaining 10%. Be creative when looking at incentives for adoption.

5. Avoid Stagnancy

Software kits like Salesforce or NetSuite are a great solution and high quality products but as off-the-shelf products you can only adjust them so much. Bespoke packages give more adaptability. A lack of adaptability is the top reason why software implementation ultimately fails.

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