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Introducing new software generally requires a pilot implementation program to test how existing processes will be performed on the new software, and to ensure that the anticipated enhancements will be realized. After being trained on the new software, the project team conducts the pilot and creates graphical workflow charts of the processes involved, including both current and proposed workflows. These graphical representations will form the basis for training users to operate the new systems. Advantages of pilots include risk reduction, business process improvement and in-depth learning of the software.
Conducting pilot programs before actually implementing new software reduces the risk of failure, errors, delays and shutting down the business. Attempts to use the software to run the business immediately after generic software training have a high risk of failure because of the many unforeseen nuances involved in trying to apply generic training to a specific business environment. The pilot requires running through the processes, including integrating other departments. Many adjustments and modifications are made to new software during the pilot period.
Pilot programs give the project team the opportunity to evaluate the new software's capabilities and make changes that streamline and improve processes. If new software is implemented without a pilot, the project team isn't able to make changes and improve processes without shutting down the entire system for at least the amount of time necessary to fix problems. In that environment, the incentive is more to replicate the current system rather than experiment with potentially dramatic improvement.
Learn How the Software Works
Software vendor training classes are designed to be generic in nature. They are not designed to train how to use the software in a specific business environment. The training classes are a necessary part of the implementation process. The project team learns how the software will be applied to business processes during the pilot. Once the pilot is completed, the users are then trained in how the software will perform the company's business processes.
One output of the pilot are graphical workflow charts that reveal how the software will be used to run the business. These workflows will be used to train the users. The quality of these user training materials is extremely important. Poor workflow documents result in repeating pilot efforts and delaying the implementation.
Bob Turek started writing in 1994 for "The Performance Advantage" magazine. His book "Value Selling Business Solutions" draws on technology industry experiences gained from his position as director of business development for Infogain's cloud CRM for customer support operations practice. He holds a bachelor's degree in economics and psychology from Claremont McKenna College and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Southern California.