Lexicon Systems, LLC Blog

lex'•i•con: the vocabulary of a branch of knowledge. Thoughts on environment, health & safety (EHS), sustainability and information technology to support them.


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New CIO.com blog post | 6 criteria for selecting a software implementation consultant

Just posted this morning… 6 criteria for selecting a software implementation consultant.

Enterprise software implementation is a big deal, and the right consultant can make your life easier. Here are six essential criteria to consider when selecting a consultant.

Today’s post will help you to adopt Tip No. 2 in last week’s post, 6 tips for finding a great software implementation consultant — “Establish objective selection criteria and stick to them.”

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Debunking common software implementation myths

I read an article this morning about three ERP (enterprise resource planning) implementation myths. I come across the same ones in EHS (environment, health & safety) software implementations. Let the debunking begin…

Myth 1. You cannot use your software selection consultant to implement the software.

no entryI have seen resistance to using a software selection consultant to implement the software. The hiring organization perceived that the consulting firm could not do both; there should be a separation between selection and implementation.

If your consultant has proven project management, communications, subject matter and technical skills to successfully implement the software, then use them. Once your consultant helps you to document and prioritize needs and select software, then they know your needs and business better than anyone else at this point! Take advantage of this knowledge.

Bringing in another group to implement the software will cost you lost productivity, duplication of efforts, extended timelines, and other avoidable costs.

Myth 2. You must have a software vendor or reseller implement your software.

sign-160675_1280While the software vendor/reseller should be conversant in the software, they may lack subject matter expertise or a broader perspective of implementation best practices.

Instead, I recommend a team approach to implementation:

  1. an integrator/implementer that is comfortable with the software and its configuration,
  2. vendor representatives–implementation and product specialists, and
  3. software customer key stakeholders.

Myth 3. The most important aspect of implementation is technical proficiency.

signs-38588_1280I have seen talented technical staff lead software implementations that become “challenged” when the teams focused solely on technical issues.  Warning!

Instead, I recommend a team skilled in several disciplines. Beyond technical (IT) proficiency, subject matter expertise, and industry experience, remember to round out the team with skill sets such as:

  • project management
  • risk management
  • business process management
  • organizational change management
  • training
  • analytics
  • etc.

With these implementation myths are debunked, you can make more informed decisions on your path forward for software implementation. This is my “quick take.” You can read the Panorama Consulting perspective here.


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Increasing the probability of software implementation success

Last week I attended a Webinar that focused on the leading environment, health & safety (EHS) software companies. During the Q&A period, an attendee commented that, while the software may lead the market, the firms that implement the software may not be up to snuff. This results in problematic implementations and unhappy clients.

At a business lunch the next day, a colleague asked why some EHS consulting firms are less successful than others when it comes to implementation. I replied that implementation success is not about the software alone. No matter how feature-packed, intuitive and functional the software package, it takes more than software-savvy subject matter experts and EHS-savvy software engineers for a truly successful implementation. The implementation team requires proven methodology, good project management and social skills, and the ability to foster user acceptance.

  • proven methodology is important throughout the entire software life cycle–from concept through business needs analysis and software evaluation and selection to  design, system configuration, rollout and support. Proven methodology helps to reduce the margin of error and ultimately saves the  client time.
  • project management skills are important in planning, budgeting and tracking, and critical in managing “scope creep.” Project management skills are critical in areas such as IT risk management and identifying and recommending solutions to issues as they arise.
  • social skills are important since enterprise-scale IT projects involve different stakeholders with competing agendas. Members of the implementation team must be able to communicate with people at many levels and in various functions within the client organization. Some of the members must excel in facilitation skills, particularly when the group must reach a fact-based consensus. They must be able to work without showing bias towards certain stakeholders or software packages.
  • user acceptance often will “make or break” an implementation. Fostering user acceptance requires organizational change management expertise, something often overlooked during large IT projects. Organizational change management activities should occur throughout the software life cycle, and include much more than training. Read more about organizational change management here.

If you contemplate starting an IT initiative in the EHS arena, or to manage other subject matter, make sure that you have a professional leading the effort. Hands-on experience in the above areas can increase the probability of success in software implementations. Of course, these are a select few of all of the skills required. Read more about IT program management here.