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As the business landscape becomes increasingly saturated, staying ahead of the curve often means embracing disruptive technologies to meet the fickle market demands. In most cases, this entails knowing when to pivot your current strategy to an entirely new solution.
But recognizing the importance of digital shift is one thing; implementing the necessary IT upgrade is another. A global survey by Deloitte has found that although 87% of companies manage to identify the impact of digital trends on their industries, only 44% have adequately prepared for the coming disruptions. This vast disconnect between organizational expectations and conditions in the field underscores the significant roadblocks that arise when moving into a new software environment.
Why make the switch?
Whether you plan to migrate your entire system or modernize it with more robust capabilities, the dreaded reality is that software adoption is often uncomfortable and costly. And for most, it requires a significant overhaul of their current business approach—the failure of which can slow down productivity, disorient the existing workflow, and ultimately halt their transformation trajectory.
While a fast-evolving digital landscape—driven by fierce market competition—spearheads this growing trend, other considerations also play a part in such a monumental decision. Those may include the rising total costs of ownership relative to profits, the system’s inability to accommodate different functions and data, recurring errors due to aging software, and many more.
Mitigating the roadblocks in software adoption
Proper planning and communication are incredibly crucial here. Having such a systemic approach is paramount to fulfilling the project requirements—from procuring the necessary toolkits and resources to devising the project timeline.
The more prepared your team is in handling numerous possible scenarios, the better its chances of faring against all the challenges that might crop up.
With that said, here are five significant roadblocks your business might face when transitioning into a new software environment and how to best mitigate them:
Like other projects, software adoption requires cross-collaboration between multiple stakeholders. Primarily, this consists of an internal team of project managers, tech leads, software developers, UI/UX designers, and business analysts. In some cases, however, external support, such as a third-party vendor or a dedicated offshore team, may come on board to bridge the technical gap within the development, which adds to the project’s complex dynamics.
Given the extensive scope that each role must oversee, it is easy for the team to carry out their duties in complete isolation from one another, especially without solid coordination. This inadvertent organizational silo prevents the team from taking full ownership of the project as each function cannot visualize the big picture without understanding the interplay between the roles.
The first and most important step to address this problem is to conduct thorough due diligence with all the relevant stakeholders, from the development team to the affected parties like system administrators and end users. By openly communicating your decision ahead of time, you can create a strategic roadmap that accounts for all the expected deliverables and milestones the team needs to achieve.
This high level of transparency—coupled with efficient leadership—will undoubtedly foster better interactions among team members. And in turn, they will ensure that the end users’ priorities and needs will always be top of mind during the implementation phase.
Protecting private data
Maintaining data integrity is one of the biggest challenges in adopting new software. It stands to reason that moving your company data on a massive scale from the old system to the new one always carries inherent risks. For example, your data might get corrupted if the new environment cannot decipher the old file formats. Data might also get lost during transfer if the volume of information is simply too big for the operating system to handle at once.
Failing to notify your end users of the migration can also pose a glut of security risks for your application. A system crash will likely ensue as the program tries to retrieve critical data while it is being moved. Besides inconveniencing customers, this massive interference can create system vulnerabilities that compromise your customers’ private information.
So then, how can you circumnavigate this problem altogether? The answer is simple: planning, planning, and planning. By putting several failover mechanisms and automation way in advance, you aren’t short of options to prevent data loss or corruption.
Backing up your data before initiating a software upgrade, for instance, can act as a failsafe in the event of a crisis by keeping your proprietary information intact. You can also perform feasibility tests and trials on a simulated version of your software to familiarize yourself with the migration process and rectify any issues ahead of time.
If time is not of concern and you don’t mind some short bursts of tedious work, incrementally moving your data is a great way to create a smoother data migration process. With this approach, everyone has enough time to adapt to the system upgrade at their own pace.
Logistical shortfalls in the production environment aren’t always indicative of bad management. Most often, organizations lacking in IT resources for software upgrades are grappling with budget constraints. Realistically speaking, it is fairly difficult to justify an IT purchase to your stakeholders if such an expense can potentially hurt the company’s bottom line. Plus, it’s even harder to shore up a new capability if there’s already a similar feature in place that does the job, even if it is a less-than-stellar option.
Nonetheless, there are several ways you can get around this problem. For instance, rather than focusing on refurbishing your entire system immediately, you can modernize your business processes one at a time, which is much more affordable. Similarly, you can make your operations leaner and more efficient by decommissioning all the IT assets that no longer align with your corporate strategy.
More importantly, with myriad software options in the market, companies can now choose digital solutions that demonstrably offer higher returns in proportion to their procurement costs, thereby securing better capital recovery in the long haul.
So, you don’t have to put your idea on the back burner just yet. With in-depth market research and conviction, you can still persuade your company’s decision-makers to greenlight your long-awaited upgrade, provided that you can justify all the costs in your pitch.
Insufficient technical training
A software program is only as good as its users. Without well-trained staff members to operate the software, any significant upgrades to your system will never translate into any real improvements in your current operations. Even worse, it can make your employees feel frustrated with the changes to the point they resort to a makeshift system to keep the business going.
Therefore, bringing your employees up to speed with the new software is highly crucial to minimize the impact of workflow disruption and downtimes caused by the transition. To accomplish this, you must create a comprehensive onboarding plan that not only relays the intrinsic value of the software but also equips your employees with the necessary skills to wield the application’s functionalities to the fullest extent.
From a managerial perspective, upscaling the staff’s technical proficiency also empowers them to take full ownership of their output—ultimately boosting their morale and work satisfaction.
The lack of post-release support
Just because the upgrade goes live, it doesn’t mean the migration process is over. On the contrary, your project team’s job now is to provide ongoing support to the stakeholders so they can utilize the software without a hitch. This means you must always be ready to anticipate a host of interoperability issues, including software bugs, failed system updates, missing services, and so on. Neglecting this aspect in your development lifecycle can be fatal for your business. Unabated and prolonged technical issues can seriously interfere with your workflow and force your customers to leave.
The appropriate solutions to this predicament largely depend on your preferred development model. If you rely on a third-party vendor or an outsourced IT team for software integration, always make sure that the party in question is willing to contractually provide post-rollout assistance to keep things in order. On the other hand, if you appoint an in-house team to carry out the development, always make sure that they have the necessary skills and tools to promptly tend to any technical problems. If a knowledge gap is present somehow, another possible solution is to temporarily augment your project capacity with external talent to help iron out the kinks.
Upgrading your IT capabilities can be a grueling endeavor, with mounting roadblocks that keep your team on their toes. By identifying these development challenges early on, your business can strategically plan and leverage the right resources to scale its digital transformation.
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