Selecting a new or replacing an old facility management solution is definitely a difficult process – but that’s only a fraction of the battle. The real challenge starts after you sign your name on the dotted line – the implementation. Implementing new software is difficult, but implementing new software successfully is a whole different ball game.
Although numbers are improving, we still see that about half of IT projects in general are failing. It’s nerve racking going into a software implementation knowing these statistics and understanding that you could spend a lot of time and resources on an implementation project just to have it fail.
What deems a software implementation a failure?
- Takes dramatically longer than planned.
- Doesn’t deliver the expected business benefits.
- Costs more than you expected.
- End users revert to the old way of doing things – no user adoption.
Many times, facility management software failures or implementation failures in general have nothing to do with the technology (or vendor) itself but rather poor planning, inadequate project management and, once the implementation is complete, lack of user adoption on the client side. Understanding why facility management software fails will give you better insights and will help prevent the same from happening to you.
Bad planning and project management.
Would you ever build a house without the appropriate materials (lumber, concrete, tile, etc.), a floor plan / design of the desired end product, or the appropriate human resources (builders, plumbers, etc.)? No. So why would you implement software without planning accordingly as well? This may seem obvious, but often times we see that a previous software implementation has failed simply because of lack of upfront planning.
To successfully plan a facility management software implementation and roll out, be sure to:
- Define and document a clear deployment strategy. Be sure to plan your roll out in phases. The different phases that you map out will be determined by your own timeline and the resources that you have available to you. Each phase should have a specific goal that you want to achieve. Once that goal is achieved then you can move on to the next phase. If you don’t implement your new software in clear phases with achievable goals you will quickly become overwhelmed.
- Involve the right stakeholders during the planning process. In many failed implementations we tend to see that not all stakeholders, or teams involved are on the same page. For example, we most commonly see that there is a disconnect between facility and IT teams. Successful implementations include all necessary teams / team members from the beginning. We suggest that while you are planning out your deployment strategy be sure to include your IT team (or any other team that needs to be include) in the process, so you can have a better understanding of the amount of work that will be required from them. This will allow you to have the appropriate resources to get the project completed successfully, and on time.
- Have transparent communication and reporting on the status. You should have open communication with all teams or team members involved throughout the implementation process. Stakeholders should always know the status of the project and any challenges the implementation is facing. Sending weekly or monthly reports about the implementation status will provide clarity for all involved parties.
Unclear or unrealistic goals.
When implementing a facility management solution, we typically see two mistakes when it comes to goal setting that leads to facility management software failures – goals are either unclear or unrealistic. Unclear goals will only confuse upper management as well as your end users and unrealistic goals are just setting your organization up for failure.
Many times, when selecting or implementing new software, organizations tend to focus only on the challenge or problem that they are trying to solve instead of the quantifiable goals they are trying to achieve. Setting a goal to improve facility management is too large and vague to measure. Instead, focus on goals that can actually be measured using accurate data. For example, your goal could be to cut facility management costs by X% in 2018. Or if you want to get even more granular, you could set a goal to increase tenant retention X% which will be achieved by improving tenant satisfaction by speeding response times to work orders. Having too vague, undefined or unclear goals for your software implementation will only confuse your team in the long run.
Unrealistic goals are another cause of implementation failures. Don’t set goals that you know your organization can’t achieve. Be realistic about the time and resources that your team has to reach your goals. If your goal is to respond to 100% of work orders in three minutes but you only have two people on your team – chances are you aren’t going to hit this goal because unexpected emergencies tend to come up and impact response times. If you set unrealistic goals management will have unrealistic expectations and will deem your implementation a failure when you don’t reach them.
Work with multiple stakeholders to define specific, realistic goals that can be measured to help determine the success of your facility management software implementation.
No vision for the future.
The real estate industry is always changing – new technologies appear, new regulations are set, and new processes are put in place to keep up with tenant or employee expectations and needs. When you are implementing a new solution, you must have a clear vision for what you want to achieve with the software for the next couple of years or even longer. If you implement a solution form a vendor that isn’t keeping up with the industry trends or constantly making software enhancements, chances are in a few years your software will be old and outdated and it could become a failed software implementation.
If you are implementing a solution from a provider that does continually make improvements and enhancements, and you trust that they can help you achieve your goals now and in the future you will still need to periodically reevaluate your processes. In 3 or 4 years we could see that the process we have for say a work order, has changed or become more automated, this has to reflect in your software and processes as well. Make sure that your software implementation will be able to grow and evolve with your business to keep up with any future evolution that may happen.
Lack of user adoption.
Once you finally have implemented your facility management solution for your end users to start using, there is one large hurdle that you need to conquer to deem your implementation a success – user adoption. Here are a few reasons we see companies struggle with user adoption:
- Bad internal marketing of the software.
This goes back to goal setting as well as explaining the real benefits of the software. Involve your marketing or corporate communications team to explain to end users how they will benefit from the software as well as your company overall. The more end users understand the benefits and goals, the more on board they will be when it comes time to actually use the new software.
- Unstructured or incomplete software training.
Hold structured training classes for all groups of users that will be using the software. Some groups may be using different parts of the system so be sure to tailor the training to the actual use cases for each group. Provide step by step instructions for users to follow along with as well as hands on access to the new software during scheduled training sessions.
- No follow up or regular feedback after the software is implemented.
Managers should regularly ask for feedback from users, both formally and informally, to make sure that they have a good feel for whether employees are actually using the system. Gaining critical feedback from end users will help improve the system and also show end users that their opinions do matter to the success of the implementation.
If you can conquer these four areas where software implementations tend to fail, you will be able to implement a system that will provide you with a tool you can rely on to help improve your business processes and achieve goals successfully.