During a panel discussion at the recent 2018 EHSQ Alliance conference in Austin, Tex., Tim Wolf and Greg Oickle from Arcadis – global design and consultancy experts that implement Intelex software for clients – offered their top six keys to successful implementations:
- It’s important to establish and stay focused on a long-term vision. “It’s about making decisions today that aren’t going to prevent you from doing things tomorrow or two years or five years from now,” said Oickle. “It’s also about considering where you want to be five years from now. Today you might want to do incident management, which will let you enter incidents and figure out what’s happening, but maybe two years from now you might want to assess risks and figure out how you can actually reduce the number of incidents that are reported. So designing with the future in mind is important.”Added Wolf: “There is some thought process required around the sequencing of the applications, how you’re configuring so you can then [add] the future pieces to the system, so you’re not having to go back and reconfigure.”
- Build the right core team. Wolf: “Getting it right is a huge challenge. The core team members are responsible for designing the system, making decisions, driving the program, gathering information throughout the organization, representing the team – they have many roles. The members could be business leads, project managers, subject matter experts, but this core team really needs to be dedicated to the project and understand the time commitments required.”
Wolf cautioned against making the team too big, because coming to consensus on decisions can be a challenge.
“The (size) sweet spot is different for different organizations. But remember that if you have too few [people] on your core team, you’re probably not going to get diverse representation. It’s one of those things that doesn’t have a hard rule. It’s something you’ve got to figure out for your organization based on specific business needs, but it’s something that’s critical.”
It’s also not a bad idea to get one or two people who don’t necessarily agree with the project, a.k.a. naysayers, on your core team, Wolf said. “If you can get them involved early on with the decisions around designing the system and rolling it out, they’re going to have ownership and they’re hopefully going to change their tune.”
- To ensure people will actually use the system, develop sound adoption strategies. Wolf: “Change management is not training. Change management should start on the first day of the project. You know your staff best: which plants or business units are going to be your biggest challenges, and you also know who your biggest advocates are. They’re ready and asking for change. They are so frustrated with the current system and current processes, they are begging for something new. So use that to your advantage.”
Oickle stressed the need to communicate to the company that the new system is coming. “Create some hype around it so that it’s not a shock to them when it’s time to start using it.” This hype can take the form of emails, webinars, posters, etc. “Get people excited that this is coming. Let them play with it early, even if they aren’t part of the core testing team. It’s really good if you can hand it to them and they already know what they’re going to be using.”
- Consider how the system’s design will look. Wolf: “Build mockups to show people the design decisions. Sometimes it’s hard to understand from an Excel spreadsheet or a Word document what this design actually is and what you’re getting. Because once you spend all that time on the design, get sign-off, and then move into the configuration stage, having to take that step back and redesigning will kill a project.”Wolf also advised leveraging off-the-shelf offerings as much as possible. “Really think about what you can use right out of the box.”
- Phase the project appropriately. If you start by implementing a smaller application, you can get up and running with the system faster, said Oickle. By phasing, you start reaping the benefits early. In subsequent phases you can introduce more complicated applications. “With this approach, users will have been using the system. They know what they like and what they don’t like and you can design to achieve better user adoption and a better user experience.”
- Train users effectively. Wolf recommends doing face-to-face training as much as possible, but acknowledges that it’s not always possible. When using training materials, he added, “Less is more. The best bang for your buck are quick reads. Build simple materials. Remember that you’re still dealing with people who have full-time responsibilities. Just train them on what they need to know to do their job. Don’t overwhelm them.