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7 Questions To Ask For Your Reporting Software Implementation Process
If you’ve chosen reporting software but you’re not sure how to start the implementation process, this one’s for you.
Perhaps you’ve already chosen your favorite reporting software solution, or you have narrowed down your list but are waiting to pull the trigger. Choosing technology is one thing, but implementing it may seem like a whole other animal. You likely don’t have any IT experience and are a bit apprehensive to move forward, but you want to get something put in place.
If this sounds like you, we’ve got your back. This list of questions will help you through the process so you can put your fears to rest.
1. What are your internal goals?
It’s important to figure out what results you want from your reporting software. Is your primary goal to use software to run a leadership meeting, or are you trying to create a well integrated management report (for printing)? Keep in mind why you originally wanted to purchase software in the first place when you’re working on your implementation plan. Solve your primary goal first, and then take advantage of additional features once you are up and running.
2. What is your timeline?
First, determine if there is anything that could be a hinderance to the implementation process. If you need to put your implementation on hold or just give yourself a little more time for it, do so.
But if you’re ready to go forward with the implementation, start by setting hard deadlines—they really motivate! You may also want to consider your natural work calendar. If you want to use reporting software for your discussion of April’s results, which will happen the first week of May, you’ll have a very specific, action-oriented deadline to work toward.
3. Have you clearly defined responsibilities?
First, you’ll want to determine who owns the process, and should establish your key contacts on the client side and at the software company. That way, both sides will know where to direct questions, which is important in order to prevent miscommunication.
You’ll then want to step back and make sure all of the following questions are clear to everyone involved:
- Who on the vendor software team is working on this, and what are their deadlines and responsibilities?
- Who on your team is working on this, and what are their deadlines and responsibilities?
- Who needs to be involved, and to what extent?
- Do department heads need to approve departmental integration?
- Does IT need to get involved to write SQL queries or perform other installation or integration activities?
- What are the involved parties’ schedules? Do you have their commitment to this process and the deadlines?
4. What is your approval process?
Ideally, you want to be able to give your software a trial run before all of your data is uploaded. You might select one department to act as a sample representative of the overall project implementation. This is called a prototype—and you’ll want to consider this process.
- When do you declare success? Is it after setup? Do you need to wait for several reporting periods?
- Do you have the department on board with the process?
You and your vendor will typically meet, review the prototype, and determine if any changes are to be made. This complete process repeats until you approve the implementation.
5. Are you going to do training? How?
The answer to the first question should be a resounding yes, but you also need to answer the following:
- Are you doing in-person training or remote training?
- Is someone from your organization going to give the training, or will the vendor come in and do it?
- Who in your organization needs training, and how much training do they need?
Personally, we’d recommend in-person, vendor-led training for the initial roll out. There is a lot of value in this, because everyone hears the same message at the same time, and it seems to be simpler when the meeting is held face-to-face. If the vendor is onsite, you can also get all of your questions answered immediately. Take advantage of that time to have users enter their data.
6. What is your organization’s incentive to be successful? Have you communicated it well?
If you’re getting reporting software because you’re drowning in the Microsoft Office suite, do your team members know their jobs will be easier once the reporting software is implemented? If you can internally sell the value of this software and explain why it’s worth it in the long run to make the change, you’ll have a more successful implementation process.
7. Who is doing the implementation? Is everyone on the same page?
You may want to do the implementation yourself and have the software provider give you guidance and support along the way. Or, you may prefer to provide the vendor with your data and let them do the implementation for you. The benefit of doing it yourself is that you get comfortable with the software, but you’ll need to make sure you have the capacity to actually do the implementation in a timely manner. The benefit of having someone else do it is that it won’t take up so much of your time, and you’ll walk into a tool that is ready for you to take control of.
Sometimes, a hybrid model can work very well. The vendor does part of the implementation while you finish up the rest. It can be the best of both worlds.
Don’t forget to ask the vendor that you’re working with what their traditional implementation processes look like (in a few different situations, across a few different sectors, and within your own sector). This will help you feel more comfortable, and it may be the push you need! And if you’re still worried about something going wrong, don’t worry—the experienced vendor you’re working with has likely dealt with any issues you might have before!