Five Qs: Bernadette Sprawka on Implementing New Software in the Workplace

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Bernadette Sprawka, managing partner and CFO of MIPRO, a Milford-based consulting firm that specializes in the implementation of business process software, spoke with DBusiness Daily News about software trends and implementation strategies.

1. DDN: What common mistakes do businesses make when bringing in new software?

BS: They don’t take enough time in the planning. They (approach it) as doing business as normal instead of really evaluating the software and how they can improve their business processes. If you don’t have a good plan in place, you’re not going to be able to identify what your success factors are, so you won’t know if you’re successful at the end of the project or not. They also don’t spend enough time on the testing.

2. DDN: How should the employee training process start?

BS: There (should) be a core team of users that go though training at the very beginning of the project because they’re going to be the ones that go through fit/gap sessions. That’s when you look at what your business processes are today and what the software can provide, and then determine whether or not something is going to need to be changed with the software. Or, if the new software has a better business process, you may need to reengineer your business process for it. The end user team usually gets trained prior to the end of user testing.

3. DDN: What can businesses do post-implementation?

BS: Ongoing support is important. Depending on the software package, you’re going to want to open something like a help desk, where you can collect the questions of the end users. That way, you can identify if there’s a particular area that they still need training in or if there’s a particular area that is concerning to them that maybe they can address in a better way. And a good company will always be evaluating the software. Most companies don’t do it every year, but every two or three years. They should evaluate the software packages (to ensure) they’re accomplishing the goals of the company.

4. DDN: Do you run into many businesses that are underutilizing the software they already have?

BS: Absolutely. One of the things that is prevalent in the software industry is that when you’re buying a software package, you look at everything and think, “Oh, we want everything.” But then when you go to implement, you implement the first phase of financials or the first phase of HR, and then the other phases kind of get left behind. So a lot of businesses have software that they refer to as “shelfware,” where they’re not using all of the functionality available. We get calls all of the time: “I’m doing this manually or I’m doing this in another system — is there a better way of doing this?” And they come to find out they already own the software that does the process — they just didn’t take the time to learn about it.

5. DDN: What trends are you seeing?

BS: There’s a lot of buzz around software as a service (SaaS) and software in the cloud. People are very curious about it, and are asking, “Why are people choosing that over on-premise software?” A lot of it has to do with avoiding the up-front costs of the hardware and the investment in the individuals to take care of all of the hardware. On the HR side, people are definitely moving quicker to the cloud. On the financial side, we’re seeing some people doing it, but others are a little more hesitant about moving their financial info to the cloud.

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