Over the years we have seen many implementations of project management software in companies. And although the basic conditions were often identical (similar project sizes, the same software, committed project managers, etc.), not all projects are successful in the long term. Therefore, we asked ourselves what project managers do differently in successful software implementations and identified a number of success factors.
Project marketing is crucial for success
While the marketing industry has undergone major changes in recent years, project marketing is still often similar to the one-dimensional campaigns of the 1990s: posters are designed and glued, intranet pages set up and key rings distributed.
However, employees and other key stakeholders are often terribly poorly informed when they are approached about the project. For some project managers, this should not be inconvenient, because they often prefer their project not to receive so much attention in the company, at least initially.
Why? Quite simple: The large-scale introduction of new software often does not initially meet with much approval from employees - even if they urgently need it and it ultimately makes their work much easier.
The project manager's hope is therefore as follows: The less uninvolved people know about my project at an early stage, the less it can be disturbed from outside and the calmer my project team can work. This attitude is human and makes sense at first glance, but seldom does the project any good. Due to a lack of information, rumors often arise and are very difficult to resolve.
The four success factors of good project marketing
But what do the managers of projects that lead to a successful software introduction with satisfied employees do differently?
1. Information is king
Good project marketing lives from the fact that all interest groups are credibly and comprehensively informed. Employees in particular often don't attach any importance to a pretty project logo or poster. They want answers to the following questions:
- What can I expect personally?
- How strongly does the project interfere with my daily work?
- What advantages do I personally have from the software introduction?
2. Communication is not a one-way street
Employees are used to evaluating products and services on the web and posting comments in social media from their private lives. This is also reflected in their communication behaviour in a professional context: if employees have doubts about the project, they will express them.
Project managers should not label them as troublemakers, but start to talk with them. Open question and feedback rounds often generate valuable information as to which software adjustments are necessary and which templates and settings are still missing in order to adapt the software perfectly to the company.
3. Key users as mediators
The most successful implementation projects are those for which key users are defined and trained. These in turn support other users. The key users thus act as a kind of mediator between IT and the specialist department and can show their colleagues in concrete terms where the advantages of the new product lie for them.
4. Think messages from the user's point of view
Especially people with an IT background tend to emphasize the innovativeness of the new software functions - but these are often of little interest to later users. Good messages are memorable and are concretely related to the daily work of the users.
As Paul Watzlawick already knew: "One cannot not communicate". This also applies to projects. So see project marketing as a great opportunity - to get feedback, to overcome concerns and to ensure the long-term success of the project.
Originally published in German in the projektmagazin Blog on 14.07.2016: Begeisterte Nutzer: Mit diesen vier Tricks gelingt die Software-Einführung
Autor: Dr. Andreas Tremel