So you’ve found your dream estimating software. After weeks and months of researching, evaluating, and test-driving, you’ve finally settled on “the one” – or at least, the one that works best for you and your team. But after you’ve signed off on proposals and hammered out contracts, you inevitably have to face the next, and in some ways most important, step: the task of getting that software set up and running properly among everyone on your team. It’s a task that can be incredibly thankless, grueling, and tedious. There’s the issue of making sure everyone has the right access to the software; training users in the software; checking with IT in order to avoid firewall conflicts and other related problems. This is one of the greatest challenges of moving to any new estimating tool: the time it takes to get it fully stood up and have everyone onboarded correctly.
But depending on how you approach it, implementation of a software doesn’t always have to be messy and time-consuming. Here are some dos and don’ts for successfully implementing a new program and getting it done when you say it’ll be done.
DO: COLLABORATE WITH THE SOFTWARE’S SERVICES TEAM TO CREATE AN IMPLEMENTATION PLAN.
Software implementation should not be something that’s only discussed after you’ve already purchased the software. It needs to be talked about as early as evaluation. If a vendor can’t describe how they strategize implementation with their clients, that’s not a vendor you want to partner with. Ideally, you’ll talk to the vendor’s services team as soon as you enter into negotiation. You may even get a few sample plans for what that implementation schedule would look like. Most importantly, you should be able to communicate what your company will need and how fast to the services team. Look for a vendor who is able to adapt to a variety of situations and can customize an implementation plan to your unique needs.
DON’T: SKIP TRAINING SESSIONS.
Your services team will likely schedule a set number of training sessions each month as you march towards the end goal of having the software fully stood up. It might be tempting to skip just one or two sessions – let’s face it, an estimator’s work never stops, and sometimes getting a bid out the door is going to take top priority. But as much as possible, do your best to make your vendor’s training classes, and encourage the rest of your team to do the same. This is where you’ll be able to give critical feedback about how your team is handling the software, the progress you’re seeing, and the setbacks and questions you need addressed. If you have a large team, it’s likely that only a few of you are in constant contact with your implementation specialist – training sessions are a great way for people who might normally fly under the radar to get hands-on with the software and receive real-time answers to any issues they run into.
DO: SET UP REGULAR CHECK-INS WITH YOUR IMPLEMENTATION SPECIALIST.
During the implementation process, you should always be in constant communication with your implementation specialist. They’ll be helping you build out custom reports, and they’ll also be the first line of contact if you need to file a support request.
DON’T: DO IT YOURSELF.
Let’s be honest – implementation fees, and the cost of having one-on-one access to an implementation specialist, aren’t always cheap. While it’s important to talk to your vendor about what plan makes the most sense for your, if you have multiple offices or just one office but lots of estimators on your team, it’s critical to have people solely dedicated to helping you navigate the software. Your estimators are always going to be busy, and implementing a new software is not something you want to rush. That’s where a vendor’s services team come into play: they can take on the heavy lifting of developing an implementation schedule, training your estimators, and building out reports and creating templates that can help standardize your preconstruction efforts.