System Implementation When it comes to implementing or installing a new system within a company or organization, there are many factors to consider, not only technology. System implementation takes place when testing is complete and the team and project manager become responsible for implementing the new information system successfully for the sponsor or for the client’s organization or company. A successful implementation can result in overall organizational efficiency and also strengthen the organization. However, a failed implementation can result in a strain on funds, schedule, and on the organization.
Even though there are different implementation methods, there are more things to consider such as: commitment, risks, resistance, user involvement, training, and planning. User commitment plays a huge factor on implementing and installing a system successfully. An implementation method, such as direct cutover, will create a huge sense of commitment. When the direct cutover method is used, the old system is being disposed of and the new one is being installed. It is as if yesterday, you were using an old computer or system, and today you came in and there is a new computer or system in front of you.
This method creates a huge sense of commitment with users because there is no system to go back to. When it comes to user commitment, the user must also be committed to change. The company or organization must be willing to implement changes, procedures, structure, and any other factors that are crucial for the system to function. This commitment, however, should not only come from users, but through the entire organization from top management down through the entire project. Edgar Schein, a former management professor from MIT, describes the perfect leadership qualities for building commitment.
He states that management should pay attention to the project effort and respond to project issues in an important manner. Schein also states that it is necessary to coach the organization to be prepared for the new system. Executive level commitment is probably the most important because employees can follow the management’s lead and can encourage shared commitment of the project goal. Every systems project has some type of risk involved. This is because the system will impact the organization and organizations are constantly changing.
To manage some risks, project managers or leaders should look at the size of the project. If it is too big, they should consider breaking it into modules. They should look at the changes in technology and determine if they can stick to the same technology or whether they really do need the latest technology and if it will be beneficial. Management should also look at the capability of their team. They should question the team’s expertise. Top management should be supportive and committed as well. They can look at the budget for the project and question if it is realistic or not.
Lack of risk management is also a major risk factor. Management should have contingency plans if something goes wrong. Contingency plans can be very beneficial if the organization is constantly changing. Management will have more than one plan ready depending on what might happen. Management can also question the schedule and see if it is even possible to complete it on time. However, sometimes the organization will have clearly defined goals with top management support allowing the successful implementation. Communication is also a key success factor in system implementation.
The direct cutover method, for example, might create a sense of high commitment which is a success factor; however, this method is also the riskiest. There is no system to go back to if this fails. Sometimes an organization may underestimate how much things will change when it comes to implementing a new system and overestimate the organization’s ability to handle these changes. Also, if a system is very complex, it directly relates to the amount of risk involved. At times, system implementation can be effected be resistance. There are many reasons a new system may be resisted.
Sometimes a person may resist because of factors unique to the group or themselves. In this situation, the individual or group must be informed or educated and the organization can increase user participation. This is an internal factor. An external factor would be the system itself. The system could possibly be non-user-friendly or have a poor design. In this situation, the system should be corrected. It can also be modified to better suit the organization’s processes or procedures. Sometimes factors can be both internal and external. This deals with the organizational interaction of the system.
System could possibly be inadequate and users may resist using it. The parallel system implementation would be a good method to use. In this method, both systems are running simultaneously. This is the safest of all methods. However, this is the most expensive of all methods and has no user commitment. There is no commitment because users feel that they can always go back because the old system is sitting right there. User involvement is correlated to quality of management. When implementing a system in an organization or company, changes should be communicated to the users relating to their experience.
When these changes are clearly communicated, users can compare and contrast and this can lead to a successful implementation. Users should also be involved in the decision process. Sometimes a new system can bring a hindrance of control over users’ work. In this case, a pilot implementation method would be beneficial. In this method, the new system is tested in one area. The old system eventually overlaps with the new. There is a low risk and a low cost. However, if the test group does not consist of many people, there is not much testing taking place.
Some parts of the organization may resist being the testing group. Training is also a vital factor in successful system implementation. A successful training plan should include everyone who will use and support the new system. There should be appropriate timing on when to schedule the training. Training should ensure that users understand the new processes, interdependencies, and workflows as well as the basic functions of the system. In this situation, a phased implementation method would be beneficial. During the phased method, the system is introduced to different parts of the organization or company.
They may introduce the system in specific departments at certain times. This will allow the department to prepare and allow the project team to learn from experience when it comes to implementing the system in different parts of the organization. Planning is a huge part of any project, no matter the size. A project plan should be well defined. If an organization has strong leadership along with a great plan that is clearly stated and well accepted by the organization, then there will be a strong source of motivation allowing members of the rganization to work together to reach that common goal. A good project plan should have an analysis of the needs of the organization, specifications of team members’ roles, project schedule, success factors, risk analysis, training requirements, and functions and processes that will be effected. Having a clearly stated project plan will allow all members of the organization to know what to expect, how it is going to affect them, and how long it will affect them for.
There may be more than one way to implement a system. However, commitment, risks, resistance, user involvement, training, and planning are important factors to look at. Some methods may be quicker or cheaper than others; however, if the organization is committed, all the risks have been analyzed, there is little to no resistance, the user is involved with proper training, and there is a clearly defined project plan, the system implementation will most likely succeed regardless of what implementation method is used.