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In this article, discover the three main steps to take when starting your software selection project:

    • Identifying stakeholders
    • Making the project plan
    • Launching the kickoff meeting

In step one of this series about the software selection process, we explained the process of choosing your consultant for the project.

For step two of the software selection process, you’ll create the project plan and present it to every stakeholder.

Let’s look at how to start your project.


Identify your stakeholders

The success of your project depends on including the input of those who will use the software solution every day. These are your stakeholders.

Identify everyone that might be affected by the new software. This group includes decision makers as well as those that:

    • Will use the new software
    • Receive data or reports from it
    • Send data to it

Everyone in your organization has a stake in the successful roll-out of new software. When you involve key stakeholders at every stage of the process, they’ll feel they own a part of it. This will motivate them to share their input and help ensure you get the best outcomes.

And if the process ever hits some stumbling blocks — which is probably will — you’ll have a team vested in a positive outcome.

You also won’t have team members doing things like:

    • Rehashing decision points
    • Second-guessing your requirements and product options
    • Protesting “this was not my choice”

All of them will have been participating in the process from the beginning.

You want a solution that does what your team members need it to do. Include people who represent their concerns and challenges.

Make your project plan

Let the process set you free.

This is your project mantra. From initiation to when you happily close the project, it will be your guide.

Using a proven process increases success rates of projects because you know exactly what to do, in what order, and why you’re doing it.

It also makes the entire project easier to manage and carry out.

With a plan, you will:

    • Improve stakeholder participation. Each person will understand their role, what’s expected of them, and how what they do contributes to the overall success.
    • Review your project along the way. Every well-planned project has milestones. Review the status of your project as you approach those milestones. Have you accomplished everything you planned to? Are you prepared for the next stage?
    • Complete key project components and dependent tasks the first time. A plan lets you know every step you need to take to get closer to the finish line. And when you write down those steps, think of what it takes to complete each step. Those are the subtasks you’ll include in your plan.

This is not to say that a one-size-fits-all approach is possible, because it often isn’t.

Tailor your project to the personnel, organizational skills, and technology of your company. Tailor it to the scope, cost, and time frame of your software implementation project.

We can help you understand how each of these factors — time, personnel, cost — will shape your plan.

For example: If you have to ramp up to a new solution in a certain time frame, you won’t want a solution that requires long-term training. Which is why having support and professional services is just as important as choosing the right technology.

You’ll stumble along the way — and that’s ok.

When roadblocks arise, write them down and discuss them. Ask why something happened, how solving it improved the project, and what you can do to make future projects run better.

Elements of your project plan

To make a process that can set you free, the project must be clearly defined, communicated, and able to support honest status and issue reporting.

The project plan should include:

    • Timeline. How long you expect the project to last.
    • Key dates. These include the milestones you want to reach so you stay on track with your timeline.
    • Dependent steps.
    • Process flows.
    • Use of resources.
    • Responsible parties. Assign people or teams to project tasks.
    • All the other details involved.

Create your plan at the beginning of the project and refine it until all stakeholders agree that it’s the right plan. Listen to their input — because as much as you might be in a hurry to get started, you’re better off hearing out and addressing valid concerns.

Assign each task to one person. All task-holders agree to have the required resources available for the time specified in the plan. And they agree to commit the time required to complete the given tasks.

Keeping things on track requires periodic status meetings with the sponsor and key stakeholders. At these meetings, the project management team should communicate progress and any deviations from the timeline.

Launch the kickoff meeting

Once the plan is ready, share it with the stakeholders in a kickoff meeting.

This meeting sets the stage and gets everyone on the same page.

Brief everyone on the timeline and their role in making sure the project is successful.

None of this should come as a surprise to your stakeholders, because you’ve included them in the development of the plan.

Include the leadership team and representatives from all identified stakeholder groups in the meeting.

During the kickoff meeting, the group will discuss:

    • The objective
    • Plans
    • Goals
    • Resources needed
    • Overall project plan

Since everyone is tuned in, you can discuss any project challenges to help prepare for the project’s execution.

If anyone has concerns about any part of the project, address them as soon as possible.

If the plan gets a thumbs up from everyone involved, then the project is good to go.

Need help creating your plan?

At Roghnu we have 10+ years’ experience in selecting software. We can help you:

  • Identify your stakeholders
  • Create your unique project plan
  • Complete the process with confidence

Contact us and we’ll share the many successful software selection projects that followed a good plan.

Note: In the next part of this series, we look at the process of defining requirements.