Selecting and Implementing
Nail Biting – Selection & Purchase
Having completed your research and education on ideas software you need to select and purchase. By now you have an idea of potential cost and budget and so you need to determine what the requirements of an ever increasing security conscious IT department are. These days having your system hosted externally can give considerable cost benefits (such as internal server space and server security) as well as the ability of the supplier to update and modify without security issues and their quick reaction in the unlikely event of a fault. Another major influence at this stage is the presence of existing programmes (recognition, feedback etc) and corporate ethos may well shape your finished process.
The idea software world is forever evolving and today elements of social media may well play a part in your plans. At this stage it is worth stressing the need for you to make sure that the software supports your process all the way, particularly its ‘back-end’, the unseen admin. There are some horror stories of senior execs being dazzled with the ‘bells and whistles’ of a package user front end only to have (you) the poor ‘administrator’ landed with a back-end that does not do the job. Your software can come from anywhere, UK, North America, Europe or elsewhere. It’s not a washing machine so you don’t need a service engineer nearby. It will probably operate in many languages, English, Arabic, Welsh etc so its applicability and flexibility is as wide as is the net that the supplier draws on for current trends.
You may still have suggestion forms (not everyone in your organisation may have PC access) but you may now be able to add electronic forms on your Intranet, together with access by home PC or Smartphone. It may also open opportunities for users to browse the database and maybe even add to existing ideas. At least one of the national organisations should be able to point you at a less expensive entry mode with a basic system and monthly rental, ideal for the cash strapped organisation or a ‘dipping the toe in the water’ short term exercise.
At some point you may have to ‘sell’ the proposal to management. Again the supplier could be invited to give an overview and, particularly if you are setting up a programme from scratch, your national organisation may be able to provide someone to join the demo to give an independent view of the concept and software needs. Once you clear this hurdle it is all downhill although there is plenty to do.
If not already done you will need a flow chart to define your process and enable you to align it or modify it to sit comfortably with the software (you may find that the software, as a result of other’s experience, suggests improved ways of doing things). Then there is the testing of the finished product and the communication to the organisation to herald the launch/re-launch.
Once in operation you can harvest the fruits of your labour. You should now be able to look forward to an ongoing relationship with the supplier and sharing your experience with others. As I said in part one, if you have got it right you have a tool that will grow and flex with you to future proof you for many a year. Enjoy.
Over nearly twenty years I have run with an in-house software system, one I wrote and maintained myself (pre-Windows – I’m not that good!), an early windows pack from North America and a current twenty first system from Europe, graduating from PC based through internal server to external servers. Along the way I have had exposure to many of the packages of the day and have had feedback from many users. This overview will hopefully help anyone needing to get their heads round this issue.