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When I come into a company to improve their efficiency, to improve their operations there are always some issues about their software. They are trying to implement a new software or they want to upgrade their software, whether it’s CRM or enterprise resource management software, bookkeeping, financial software, HRM software, doesn’t matter.

I see each time the same problem, and probably you have the same problem as well. You think, okay, there’s something new.

I will implement it and I hope that my people are more efficient, more productive. Let’s cross our fingers, because we don’t really know.

The strange thing is that software companies don’t know it very well themselves.

  • What will this software of yours will bring me, bring to my people, in terms of efficiency improvement?
  • How much time are we going to save?
  • Which quality problem will be improved or solved?

They can, of course, say some vague reasons and try to convince you, but I hardly ever see any evidence on paper before implementation.

CRM example

Recently I was at the closing presentation of one of my Green Belts (project manager in Lean Six Sigma). I was coaching here on a CRM project.

Using Lean Six Sigma, she was measuring the situation with their current CRM system. Like with every Lean Six Sigma project I coach, we start with defining the problem. How big is the problem? Where is the problem that you want to solve?

In her situation, she realised that there are many mistakes and many faulty data in their CRM system and she had to measure it, and then after that with her team she was going to analyse the reasons why they had such a bad database and then they come up with some reasons, reasons that a new software update actually would provide a lot of solutions.

She worked together with the software company to implement a new software, and of course it was not enough because training was needed and then other adjustments in software was needed as well, based on the analysis they did.

But finally, as usual with every Lean Six Sigma projects, she had to do a second measurement. So, she had the baseline measurement and the second measurement after the implementation and she could beautifully see that the mistakes were really significantly lower by more than 50%, and that saved a lot of time for the people working with the system, they were more satisfied. But also, she could reduce the cost by, hell, by 50% software costs, and the licensee cost as well because they had much more features and whistles and bells than they needed, that were only causing more problems.

Step #1: Define Your Baseline

This is the point I want to emphasize. If you want to implement a new software, a new CRM or client software, patient software, whatever it is, make sure first that you have a baseline measurement.

Make sure that you know what is your current situation before you implement the software. You should know what problem are you hoping to solve with the software. There are 3 options:

  1. Quality: you want to increase the quality of data, reduce mistakes, reduce incomplete records
  2. Time: you want to reduce the time it takes to administrate certain activities like entering prospects data, registering new employee or recording patient health condition.
  3. Costs/Ease of use: you want to see that the new software is user friendly, intuitive in use.

While in real-life these 3 aspects goes hand-in-hand, there should be a emphasis on one of the three. In accordance, you choose what to measure (your metric) to establish your baseline.

Step #2: Analyse To Find Root-cause

After establishing your baseline, you want to make sure that you do everything needed to improve the situation.

In our example, the Green Belt wanted to improve the quality of the data in the CRM. Mistakes, incomplete records caused both Marketing and Sales teams to neglect the CRM. That is very expensive!

When brainstorming in the Analyse phase of the project, they found out that not only the current version of CRM system is causing problems, but knowledge of the system, the number of windows to open before completing the records of a prospect and the number of mandatory data needed to have a fully complete prospect record were some of the core problems that needed resolution.

You see, the CRM upgrade should simplify data entry, the company should reduce the number of fields required and users should get a sound training in the newly implemented software. All of these actions require careful planning and execution to have a chance of a successful software implementation.

I see this is often a missing part of software application. Company expects from the software vendor that by implementing their package, every problem gets solved. Instead, figure out what needs to be solved, and work together to see that those issues gets solved.

Step #3: Verify improvement with data

After the implementation, and completing the planned actions as described in the previous step, you should collect new data to see improvement of the situation. See above graph in our real-life example.

Plotting data on the timeline, next to your baseline data, it is clear verification that your CRM implementation – together with the other actions you have carried out – has significantly improved the situation.

Message to software companies

This is also for you if you work at the software company. You should have data, really facts, figures, statistics on before-and-after situation. So, how much productivity improvement we be expect? Is it 10%, 20%, 30%? How much time can be saved? And how is the quality affected by the new software, by your new update? Because that gives a clear picture. This is also helping customers, your clients, to make a good decision about whether to implement yourself or not. It’s also good for those who implement your software to be reassured that it was a good investment that they have made.

Recommendation

If you want to learn how to improve such situations like software implementation, or specifically if you work in HRM and you might be at the point that you want to implement software or other improvements you need in your HR team, I want you to go to herku.com/hr-gb and join the program there, because we will start a new group with Green Belt coaching.

(with Green Belt Certification)

So, go to herku.com/hr-gb and you will learn how to measure your processes, how to identify problems, how to analyze problems with your team, with your colleagues, that they’re really part of the solution and not against your solution, and make all these steps in a very clear, transparent way that your improvements are really measured and objective and showing you improvements, like 10%, 20%, 30% in terms of productivity.

Go to, again, herku.com/hr-gb.

—Peter

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