Building an organizational technology infrastructure is not just one big decision for an engineering or construction leader, it is a series of big decisions and it’s important to think several moves ahead. Whether your role is in executive management, operations, project management, finance, or information technology, the three guiding principles outlined below will help point you toward a software and integration strategy that helps you meet your goals with minimal disruption.
Establish Clear Objectives
Documenting existing system and process pain points is helpful, but additional work is required for a comprehensive strategy. Executive leadership should begin the software selection and integration process by asking questions like, what do we want to accomplish? What processes do we want to streamline? How will we gain a competitive advantage?
Objectives should be thoroughly discussed and recorded, and this step may take several iterations to complete. Solicit opinions from trusted advisors and empower them to voice concerns. After company software and integration objectives have been established, it is important to demonstrate the importance leadership places on the new approach.
Whether considering an upgrade of a current application or transitioning to an entirely new system, organization-wide changes are probable. Change can often be viewed as difficult and intrusive by front-line staff, so unless it is made clear early and often that management is all in on the new solution, teams may resist change, resulting in low user adoption. While staff may not outwardly object, they may silently hope a new solution blows over so they can return to their comfort zones.
If the project involves a partner organization for implementation or a permanent extension of your organization, user apprehension may be less pronounced. Regardless, front-line buy in is a key area for top leadership to thoroughly contemplate.
It is important to note that management buy in does not necessarily require hands-on implementation involvement. It is essential for leadership to articulate the company’s objectives for the project, with a focus not on the what — what reports will we be able to create — but on the why — why improving our software and integration will build a stronger future for the organization.
Measurable objectives are relatable and easily understood, for example, “cut submittal processing time by 20%” is a more clearly defined goal than “increase efficiency.” In addition to keeping your team motivated, the more measurable the objectives, the easier it is to justify the time and cost of a new solution implementation.
Your objectives will also need to include projected costs. If large upfront capital costs are an obstacle, consider software-as-a-service (SaaS) or platform-as-a-service (PaaS) options. These options can be attractive because implementation can be significantly fast, and the initial infrastructure cost and responsibility are borne by the partner instead of your team.
It is important to be clear with the organization that some team members will have lead roles during and after the project. As a result, reconfiguring some project team lead responsibilities may be necessary to ensure that project implementation responsibilities are prioritized. To that end, establishing a core implementation team is often productive. The core team’s main purpose is to offer recommendations on how the company can best utilize the new technology to achieve specific measurable objectives defined by management. The core team should cross disciplines, with representation from accounting, operations, and information technology and, depending on the scope of the integration, may include payroll, human resources, purchasing, inventory, and equipment management. To minimize the number of your team members devoted to the implementation, ensure that tools within a vendor’s suite meet your needs, and that they have the resources needed to supplement your core team.
During resource planning, remember to include training as part of the project and ask questions to map out your goals. Will you hire a software partner to train all staff? Will you apply a train-the-trainer approach? Will you select a solution that offers ongoing, dedicated team members provided by your partner to own certain tasks and continually support your team?
Communicate Frequently and Consistently
Build familiarity and remove anxiety by weaving project updates into regular team communications. Team members who are not on the implementation team are probably aware that new tech is coming, but they may be worried about how it will affect their jobs. It is important to communicate often and openly with employees about project goals, objectives, and status, and to answer frequently asked questions like:
- Why did the company select this software and integration partner?
- How does it help the company?
- How does it affect and benefit each team member?
Some organizations have found user adoption success by using pilot teams as part of the implementation strategy. Pilot team members are often selected based on above average technology proficiency and positive attitude. The idea is that as pilot team members find success using new processes, they will share those first-hand experiences with their coworkers who might still be struggling with the legacy processes that led to adopting the new solution. Rank-and-file employees who hear success stories from their peers may be more receptive to change than if they heard the same stories from management or the vendor. Nothing increases user acceptance more than staff who are asking to use new tools instead of resisting them.
Looking for a partner?
Gaea Global Technologies, Inc. (Gaea) created Nexus, an iPaaS solution, after decades of experience architecting and implementing engineering and construction systems. Gaea specifically designed Nexus to automate construction processes across applications and increase productivity.
Nexus can be deployed on a standalone basis or in conjunction with Exto, Gaea’s cloud-based project management platform. Exto offers clients a dedicated project-monitoring engineer (PME). The PME is a scheduler, cost analyst, and data analyst who is already an Exto expert. The PME is a scheduler, cost analyst, and data analyst who is already an expert in all Nexus capabilities. PME services include project planning, onboarding, data analysis, data curation, and project updates..