Eight Essential Ingredients to a Successful Implementation

July 05, 2023

July 5, 2023 | by Amy O'Brien, VP of Customer Success

8 essential ingredients to a successful implementation

Eight Essential Ingredients to a Successful Implementation

July 5, 2023 | by Amy O'Brien

A lot can go into a successful product implementation.


Maybe this is the first time you’ve implemented a new product, or you’ve been involved in implementations that didn’t go as well as everyone had hoped. New software may have become shelfware due to low adoption, or launching may have taken far longer than expected. These experiences can make you hesitant to make a purchase, and when you do, give you anxiety. After working with hundreds of new clients, we’ve learned that there are certain things that need to happen, and certain things to avoid. Here are eight essential ingredients to a successful implementation that can help ease your mind and give you insight into how you can impact a successful rollout.

1. Be a good partner, and make sure everyone on your team is too.

When you engage with a new vendor, you are entering into a partnership where both parties benefit from a successful product launch. Be aware of anyone on your team who may not have bought into the product. They may have a bias towards a competitor’s product or have some other personal reason for why they don’t want things to go well. They may look for flaws, fail to actively participate in moving things along, or even sabotage the project. If you’ve got someone on your team who may not come out and say it, but whose actions tell you they’ve closed their minds to the product purchased, either ask them to step up or step aside. If that doesn’t work, do your best to minimize their involvement.

2. Follow plans.

Your vendor’s implementation consultant should have a tried and true plan for implementing their product that contains all the key elements to a successful launch, based on their experience with other customers. They may also have outlines for communication and training plans, and will work with you to customize these for your organization. You know the old adage, “a failure to plan is a plan to fail.” It may seem obvious that you need to plan, but it’s worth a reminder.

3. Establish a meeting cadence.

Establishing a regular meeting cadence is essential. At OpenScholar, we meet once a week until a client is fully launched. Even if it’s a quick check-in call, committing to this regular, live communication helps to establish trust and a strong relationship, and it builds in accountability–if you know you have a meeting coming up, you’re far more likely to meet milestones. Tell your implementation consultant of any important dates that could impact the timeline, and avoid canceling meetings even if you haven’t completed a task.

4. Implement quickly, but go at a slow and steady pace.

Your vendor wants to launch as quickly as possible, because the faster you find value, the more likely you are to renew your subscription. If they suggest it will take about 60 days to implement, know that this is how they define a quick implementation. Think of the implementation as a marathon, not a sprint. No matter what, it will take a certain amount of time to go the distance, because there are certain steps that need to be taken, and in this case, by different people. You may want to rush things along, convince the vendor to finish things in half the time, or even skip some steps. They may feel pressured to meet your demands in the name of trying to please their customer, but rushing often leads to cutting corners, having to backtrack to fix errors, or launching before people are ready. At best, the implementation could wind up taking longer. At worst, it will cause it to fail. Remember the moral of Aesop’s fable: slow and steady wins the race. That said, don’t let it drag on. Stay on track, and your launch will go well.

5. Connect your vendor to key stakeholders.

Whether it’s the web communications department, IT, or some other group, if they play a role in the successful implementation of the product, make sure your vendor can communicate with them directly. Invite them to meetings. Introduce them by email. We’ll often invite someone on our development team to client calls so they can speak to a customer’s branding expert. This cuts down on any misunderstandings and ensures everyone is on the same page. Clear, direct, and open communication with all stakeholders is essential to a successful implementation.

6. Identify your early adopters.

It may be true that everybody would benefit from the product you chose, however, when rolling out new software, it’s often a good strategy to go in phases. Start with the group most likely to adopt the product right away. It could be that they have the greatest need, they have more resources available, or they want to be the first. It may be true that every faculty member, lab, center, and institute could use an OpenScholar website, however, our customers may offer OpenScholar to their centers and institutes first, then expand access to labs and individual faculty members in phase two. Some may choose to hone in on a department or set of researchers who have been clamoring for a new website for a long time. With your early adopters off to a successful start, those who tend to like to see proof before trying something new are more likely to jump on board.

7. Achieve buy-in before inviting people to training.

If you were involved in the buying process, then you understand the value of the product. Your end users may have no clue. Before you invite anyone to training, invite them to a product overview session. Craft an email that introduces the new product with some WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) messaging, and invite them to this call. At OpenScholar, our CEO, Jess Drislane, presents the value proposition, and I demonstrate how to create their new website. The call to action is for participants to request a site, and then sign up for training. This has proven to be an effective strategy. The faculty and researchers we work with need to know why having an OpenScholar website will benefit them before they’ll be motivated to learn how to create one.

8. Remember–people need reminders.

This is where your communication plan comes into play. It isn’t enough to share one email and then expect people to adopt the product. I’m sure you can relate to coming across an article and thinking that looks interesting, but I’ll have to get back to it. Then you completely forget about it, or remember a week later and can’t find it. When our customers launch OpenScholar, they establish a cadence of weekly emails containing links to the website registration page and other key information. As people build sites, our main contact may showcase a few in the next email so their colleagues feel compelled to prioritize their own site. They’ll communicate weekly for about a month, then go to a monthly or quarterly message.

A lot can go into a successful product implementation. Keep things as simple as possible, and remember these eight tips, and your organization will find value in their purchase.




See also: Best Practices