Overcoming Software Changeover Problems

November 30th, 2012

Checking Computers Health with Stethoscope

Technology changes at an alarming rate these days, and it’s common that businesses need to continually update and overhaul their software systems to accommodate the changes. Especially if your business is undergoing rapid growth, you will need to constantly implement new software in your office.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of challenges associated with this — challenges that are known to cause plenty of headaches. Whether your business simply requires more server support, or you need a serious software reconfiguration, the following tips will help you make software changes in the least painful way possible.

Assess your needs

A system-wide software changeover is a large undertaking, so you must conduct a thorough assessment of your company’s needs before you implement the changes. Without this step, you may change all of your software only to find that the new software doesn’t quite live up to your requirements. A needs assessment will help you identify business needs that aren’t currently being met; the ways your current software is falling short; the major requirements of new software; and anything else that may help you determine what software your business needs.

When conducting the needs assessment, be sure to talk with everyone who uses or relies on the software, from managers to frontline staff. This not only gives you valuable information from every possible angle, but also helps to demystify some of the unknown factors associated with the software changeover for employees — and thereby allay some fears.

Determine a strategy for implementing the software

With your needs assessment in hand, you now have to consider how to bring in the change. There are three main ways in which a software changeover can be done:

1. Big Bang. This method is the quickest and cheapest way to implement new software, as it involves completely replacing the old software system and activating the new system all at once. It also carries with it the greatest risk because you must rely on the new system to be completely bug-proof from the start.

2. Parallel. This method allows both the current and the new software to run concurrently for a period of time. It essentially allows for a system-wide “trial run”, during which you can learn how to use the new software without compromising the operation of the business.

3. Phased. With this method, the new software is implemented in stages. The advantages are that there is less risk and more time to become familiar with the new software. However, it will also require more effort to ensure it goes smoothly.

Train your staff

Helping your staff become more proficient with the new software quickly is perhaps one of the biggest barriers to overcome in light of a big change. To improve the levels of individual performance, you will need to help staff develop their ability to use the software through training and practice. An interactive learning experience that maximises the use of animation, visualisation and practice modules will help to accelerate the learning and ensure your staff members can use the software as soon as possible.

Monitor the software’s success

After using the software for some time, it’s hard to know whether or not it’s actually improving your processes unless you monitor its performance. Bugs, flaws and other elements that consume a lot of time could all be missed unless you’re looking for them, which will decrease the efficiency of your business processes. The IT services of either the software providers or your in-house IT department are great resources when it comes to monitoring the success of the new software.

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