Choosing new software for a company to use is a multi-step process that requires a great deal of time and energy. Whether you're planning an OS migration, a major upgrade, or implementing a new tool, the keys to success remain the same, and the IT team must be involved at every step along the way. No organization should buy new software without first conducting a software pilot to determine if the product being considered can meet their needs.
With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of the most important items that should be part of your software pilot planning checklist.
#1: Internal Review
The first thing you need to do is conduct an internal review of problems that your new software must address. Having a handle on what you need will help you decide which software you want to pilot as well as which problems you want to test during the pilot.
Getting input from IT as well as other departments will ensure that you know what you need before you move on to the next step.
#2: Market Research/Proposals
The next step is to research the available software options, determine which ones are most likely to meet your needs, and request proposals from the developers.
This part of the process can take quite a while as you’ll need to sort through specs and functionalities to narrow your choices. Even if your plan is to implement the latest version of an existing software, it’s worth doing some research to see if another product might be a better fit. Once you have a short list of potential solutions, you can request proposals and make detailed cost and implementation comparisons.
#3: Pre-Pilot Planning
After you’ve reviewed the proposals, it’s time to decide which programs to pilot and make some preliminary preparations to ready your company for the pilot itself.
The preparations should include:
- Choosing a pilot team from affected departments, including IT
- Setting pilot tasks and expectations so the team knows what to do
- Prepare a pilot timeline and support materials
- Set a time to discuss the pilot results with the vendor
Planning the software pilot thoroughly gives you the best possible chance of completing it on time and within your budget.
#4: Conduct the Software Pilot
The software pilot itself should not last longer than 30 days. As your team proceeds with the pilot, make sure to conduct regular check-ins (weekly meetings at minimum) to ensure that nobody has run into problems.
It’s a good idea to check progress against your timeline and specific tasks to make sure that your pilot is on track. If needed, make adjustments and reassign work as needed.
#5: Evaluate the Pilot Results
The final step is to submit feedback forms to your team – online forms are best – to have them report their findings and experiences. Once all team members have responded, you can sit down and review the findings internally.
Even if there’s a clear front-runner, the pilot phase will be your best opportunity to identify any user issues or objections before rolling out the software organization-wide.
Depending upon how many software pilots you are conducting, you may not be ready to give a decision to your vendor. However, if you are certain that a software solution is not right for your company, you should let the vendor know immediately.
If you are piloting more than one potential solution, it’s a good idea to have a scoring system that you use to evaluate your results. This will simplify comparisons at the end and streamline the process of making a final decision.
Buying New Software…
Is a big investment for any company – and you want to make sure that you’re confident that the solution you’ve chosen is the right one. Running a software pilot is the ideal ways to test your options and eliminate uncertainty.
At Alphanumeric, we provide strategic software solutions to make your work easier. Learn today how we can help you.