One of the factors that can cause an implementation to sink or swim is the support of the end users. This is something that every software development project, from custom development to Dynamics CRM/365 configuration, has in common. No matter the difference in requirements between projects, the importance of the end user is paramount. While developing the software, it is easy to lose requirements of the end users during the process. Oftentimes, IT departments control the requirements and are perceived as the ultimate customers, skewing the success of the implementation from the very beginning.
So how do we as vendors ensure that the end users buy into the project? We include the end users from the very beginning of the process. The more involved the end users are during the requirements process, the more support the users will give the project when it is rolled out, creating a solid foundation for a successful implementation. Making the end users feel included requires a holistic view of the implementation. It requires speaking their language, learning the terms that describe the end users’ daily tasks. More often than not, this is quite different from the language of the IT team or the budgetary stakeholder. Learning the end users’ language goes far in demonstrating to them that we are invested in protecting and enhancing their processes.
This early engagement works to counteract resistance to change. We at Aeon Nexus work with many clients who are transitioning from purely paper to digital processes. It is natural to resist dramatic changes, even when they lead to increased efficiency and reporting capabilities. Collaborative decision-making allows the end users to work with the development team to overcome any challenges that surface. This also benefits the vendors by creating avenues for better informed decisions.
It is also important to balance end user input. Involving too many end users will create conflicting viewpoints. As soon as it becomes difficult to reach a decision, the collaboration process is hindered by a morass of ideas and is no longer useful. Maintaining a subset of users rather than all the end users will ensure efficient collaboration, and the subset of users will act as ambassadors for the solution during the post-implementation period. Engaging a subset of users also makes it simpler to involve them at each stage of the process. Phased implementation allows users to give input at each step of the development process, which in turn, allows user buy-in at each step. This drastically increases the likelihood of a successful implementation. Additionally, it is more manageable for the users to learn the new system, rather than rolling out a huge change all at once.
At Aeon Nexus, we follow these guidelines to ensure commitment from all our end users to guarantee the success of our implementations.