3 things to know before software implementation

 In Best Practices, Business Intelligence

implementing distribution software

Well, well, well, look at you! After all this time, it looks like you’re finally ready to make a commitment (to a new software solution, that is). It’s a big step, and it shouldn’t be taken lightly. There’s still much that needs to be considered before you can really settle in and start reaping those sweet order-to-cash improvements.

If your business is a multi-layered, tri-flavored, impeccably decorated cake, then the implementation process is the tin you baked it in. It’s not necessarily the most glamorous part of your distribution journey, but it’s certainly the most essential. This is where you begin shaping your software — the foundational precedent that will guide your company to major successes.

There’s a catch, though: you need to come prepared. This can be an intimidating process, especially for smaller business that are just beginning to branch into enterprise-level software. We sat down with one of our implementation consultants, Lara Brinkmeyer, and got the complete low-down on all things implementation. Let’s dive right in.

1. Set goals

Establishing what the ideal outcome looks like for your implementation process is essential. There’s a lot of ground to cover during this process. You’re mapping out every procedure throughout your order-to-cash cycle, so having a clear idea of what needs to be accomplished is considered best practice.

“Many companies can start off on the wrong foot when beginning the implementation process,” says Lara. “They have no idea what to expect or how to begin, they haven’t even begun to think about what they want their end result to be.” A successful implementation means meeting (or surpassing) the user’s needs. In order to do that, precedents need to be set, and wishlists need to be drafted. Which brings us right into our next point…

2. Come prepared for your discovery call

“Customers should be prepared to share their everyday processes in detail,” says Lara. To ensure your solution fulfills your every need, this step is absolutely key. This sounds intimidating, so here are a few specific examples of what you’ll need to take into consideration.

  • Global settings for basic functionality. 

    Before you begin actually implementing your software, make sure you have a big-picture idea of what you need your solution to accomplish. Global settings are the same across all users within your organization (hence, global), so take special note of the areas where you’ve historically suffered from bottlenecks and roll out these settings accordingly.

    Your new solution is intended to help you conquer those hurdles, so being able to describe exactly where you struggle will make it easier will help your implementation consultants build your dream machine.

  • Security setup. 

    Employees across your company will all be using your solution for different tasks. You’ll probably only have a handful of people who know the software inside and out. For the most part, your employees will be using your solution for their specific needs. For example, the employee ringing up orders doesn’t need to be able to manage shipping routes. SalesPad’s solution allows you to easily customize which users have access to different modules and information, keeping your customer and company data totally secure.

  • Workflow and intended processes. 

    In order to really address your pain points, you’ll have to go beyond “we have trouble with order accuracy.” You need to dig into every step that funnels into that. Take some time to map out your processes step by step, from capturing the initial sale to shipping it. This will help your implementation consultants design workflows that ensure you never make a single misstep.

  • Designs for printed forms.

    This step is fairly straightforward — how do you want your printed (or emailed) documents to look? What information do you need to communicate to your recipients? Having ideas ready for the layout of your printed forms will go a long way in speeding up the implementation process.

3. Think about your unique needs

One of the ways that SalesPad sets itself apart from other order-to-cash enhancement solutions is with its customization power. “Customers are usually surprised by the ways we can customize SalesPad to help them with efficiency specific to their company needs,” Lara says.

Being prepared for your implementation helps your consultants meet your exact needs. However, the discussion you’ll have during this process will help shape those above-and-beyond functionalities you may not have even known you needed. This can take the form of integrations, automated tax management, or a hub to handle your ecommerce transactions. These integrations take the place of processes that were manual or that you ran in a separate system.

Adding automation is next-level functionality that new users may not have factored into their initial plan. It’s a huge time saver when it comes to repetitive tasks that don’t take much brainpower but do take up a good portion of your time. You can schedule tasks such as forwarding documents, invoicing batches, and running scripts to occur automatically when triggered by the appropriate action.

These types of functions might not come to mind when you’re planning to adopt a new solution, and that’s okay. Your implementation process is designed to be both structured and exploratory. That’s how you get the clearest picture of what your business needs to in order to succeed. You never know what new discoveries you’ll make about your company along the way.

Start your implementation journey with confidence

A successful implementation is all about trying things out, adapting, and good teamwork.  You and the implementation consultant share a common goal. “The process goes much smoother if the customer does their part in the process. Whether it be setup, configuration, testing, or just getting passwords to assist the consultant in their work,” Lara concludes. The more you bring to the table, the better they can prepare you to tackle the pain points throughout your distribution processes.

Now comes the next step, which is deciding how you’re going to use your newfound power. When you’ve settled in with your new solution, start to turn your attention towards a user strategy. Read through our guide on designing strategies that give your company room to grow. It’s the ultimate key to seeing lasting results and reaching order-to-cash greatness.

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