How to Buy the
Right Software

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Chapter 8: Measuring Success and on to the Next

You’ve come a long way. But you’re not there yet.

Now that you’re using your new solution, understand how your project results compare to expectations. Measure now and continually to know outcomes and support continuous improvement. Here are four reasons to measure:

  1. Inform your decisions to continue or change implementation. If the results are good and in line with expectations, that’s great. But, even if the results are not what you expected, you are armed with this knowledge, so you can find out why and correct that issue.
  2. Improve user buy-in. New software and redesigned processes inevitably change team members’ responsibilities. Users are more willing to make the changes when they understand the roles they are playing to get better results.
  3. Secure ongoing support for the project. Software has annual subscriptions or support fees. Stakeholders who understand why they are using the software approve ongoing costs.
  4. Remind the executives who approved this investment how the software has helped meet corporate goals and their own needs.

Being able to measure and communicate the success of the project is good for your career, too.

When Should You Measure?

Take these measurements at regular intervals to review performance. This gives you a realistic snapshot and, over time, a trend for basing projections into the future. Today, you can use dashboards and analytics to understand cycle times, throughput, and other measurements. If these are not available, you can schedule reports and data extracts so you can analyze performance.

In the early weeks of go-live, things can be unstable or get worse before they get better. Measure and stay in touch with users as this system is becoming the norm, so you can address issues during this transition time. But it’s too early to make any conclusions about whether the system is a success or not.

Process Improvements

The financial benefits are usually a result of improved processes. Use the process metrics (like faster cycle time, expanded throughput, or smaller backlog) you identified in the business case before implementation as a performance baseline. If for some reason they are not accurate or current, measure the processes you intend to improve.

Revisit Your Financial Case

Earlier in this process, a financial case helped you get approval for this software. The financial impacts you predicted are those that resonated with the executive sponsor and other stakeholders. The people who are part of the approval process, as well as new executives, will be interested in how the solution is delivering on those goals.

  • Check and refine the assumptions and estimations you used for the financial case
  • Work with finance to understand the business results that your project impacted
  • Include improvements that you omitted from the original financial case, when appropriate

Get User Input

Interview and survey your users. Users range from power users to those that use the output from the system. Also consider whether partners and customers apply.

These exercises can reveal positive results as well as weaknesses in the implementation. You might find, for example, that people need a refresher training class or a “tip sheet” after go-live.

Our experience has been that user input can help in two ways:

  • Suggestions are usually concrete steps you can take, benefiting everyone
  • Users feel empowered when they contribute to a system’s success

Proactively schedule interviews with individuals and small groups about the software. Seek out the influencers in your user group as well as other users. Find out what is working and not. Ask both open and closed questions. Listen and ask follow-up questions. Recording the conversation takes some pressure off you so you can be present with the interviewee.

Surveys are easy these days. If you don’t have a corporate standard survey tool (check with HR), you can use one of many with free versions, including SurveyMonkey, Qualtrics, and SoGoSurvey. You can ask general questions, like “How satisfied are you with ____?” or specifics about the functionality, their confidence, and results. Include text, yes/no, and numerical answer types. Like the financial measurements, you can do these throughout the year and derive trends.

External Factors

Note things outside your control that may influence your results. Mergers and acquisitions, changes in priorities, partner issues, even pandemics and climate crises can impact performance.

Note how your software has helped you lower business risk by adapting to new situations.

Executive Presentation or Report

As you did with getting approval for the software, you now need to present the results to your executive sponsors and stakeholders. The Measuring Success presentation in the project template will help get you started.

Maintaining Momentum

Armed with your success measurements, you may be ready to look for ways to get more value from the software. Work with your customer coach, as well, to find out how you can expand beyond your initial implementation. You may decide to add more business units, processes, users, or modules in the next phase of your implementation.

Chapter Activities Summary

✓ Determine your metrics, frequency of measurements, and tools used to measure
✓ Measure!
✓ Share measurement results