A Small Business Journey

I am ready to move on with a new system, but what happens now?

First you realize, “This business is growing, and we need a better system!”

Your business is growing, and you know you need better systems in place to scale it. You have done some research, and now you are ready to move on. What happens in this process? What should you expect from it?

The topic of this post is not the process. Here we will talk about the different emotions you go through during the life-cycle — the journey, if you will — of an implementation project.

Think about the last vacation you took. There was the excitement of planning the trip, the details to make it happen, the last-minute glitches, the amazing moments, and the realities: delays, miscommunication, and the hard work of travel — it’s a journey, after all. And so is taking on a big project like software implementation.

It’s worth it, though.

Discovery Phase: Filled with Excitement!

It starts with a vision. A vision of how a system will help the organization move forward.

The projects that we implement at Mocko Consulting have two types of people involved: the visionary and the key person — the primary user. The visionary knows why she wants the system. She knows software implementation is not an easy process. She also knows her key person needs to be on board.

The visionary is ready to move forward! Let’s go! Sometimes, part of our process is to work with the visionary to make sure the key person also feels confident to move forward.

At this point, there is excitement! We are getting a new system in place, and all our problems will be solved!

Not really, but this is how everyone feels at this point.

Requirements and Customization: Annoying Details

The next step is not as thrilling. This is where we need to make decisions about how to configure and customize the system. It is very challenging for our customers, because at this point, they don’t have enough context of what it means to work in this system. At the same time they are being asked to make decisions in the context of this abstract thing.

Excitement is replaced with a level of frustration. Some clients might even feel defensive, and that’s normal. They have built this business, and we are messing with it. It’s like leaving the comfort of home for the unknown.

I am pretty sure my customers are thinking:
Do we really need to do this?
Why are you asking all these questions about my business?
Why do we need to go over so many details?

But when the topic is software, the devil is in the details. The questions are not abstract. They are based on our knowledge of the software and what it can do for your business. Yes, I know it is painful, but at this point, I am trying to wear your shoes.

I am asking questions to learn more about how you operate and make sure the system will be aligned and designed to support your operation.

The Data Migration: Are We There Yet?

Following the details phase, a potentially painful sprint, the next phase is data migration. And as the timeless software cliché goes: garbage in, garbage out.

A system will be as good as the data that lives in it.

This is where we get on the plane and fly into new territory. We, at Mocko Consulting, have questions about the data, and we need to walk that fine line between getting all the data perfect, or getting enough data perfect without driving you, our customer, crazy with questions.

What type of customer are you? And what about your team? Do they want perfect data? Or do you have a mix of people in your team: some that don’t want to be bothered and others who want everything to be perfect? Where will you compromise to make this trip enjoyable for everyone?

Learning a New System: Arriving at Your Destination

It’s perfectly normal to have mixed emotions when it’s time to go live in the system.

The first few days are challenging, with a lot of new things for people to get used to. Processes and terminology are different in the context of the new system.

The visionary is mostly happy at this point. She has a system where she can pull most of the reports she wanted! It is not exactly what she had in mind in the first phase, but close and with features she never imagined. She has more visibility over what is happening in the business.

After the bumps of the first few days, the key person, now, is also starting to see the value of having things in a system.

A lot of light bulbs going off in her brain.

I can almost see it. She is chatting about pick-lists, reports, and new activities she can now track in the system. And her excitement is contagious — the whole team is enjoying this place they are in now.

That’s why I am in business!

This post was originally published on LinkedIn.