7 software implementation challenges & how to solve them

Michal Wagner, Contributor
By Michal Wagner, Contributor
Updated May 2, 2023

Your new software offers great potential — to increase productivity, unleash new levels of innovation, and… completely disrupt your employees’ workflow.

Without a comprehensive plan, software implementation challenges can completely derail your transformation strategy and stifle employee productivity.

How can you avoid the biggest software implementation challenges?

A successful implementation starts with a clearly defined plan. This includes understanding what the software can really deliver, adequately preparing your project team, anticipating employee needs, and more.

The more prepared you are, the less of a threat common software implementation challenges will pose.

Here we will discuss some of the biggest software implementation challenges and how to avoid them.

Software Implementation challenges

1. Misaligned expectations

Your project team will include a variety of internal stakeholders, such as project managers, team leaders, product managers, digital adoption experts, and subject matter experts. The project team will work closely with the vendor, including developers, designers, and customer success managers.

The software vendor needs to be transparent and honest about what they can realistically deliver throughout the implementation process. For example, if you are expecting them to be very hands-on and you receive a less attentive level of service, there might be clash. If you were under the impression that the software had a desired capability but it actually doesn’t, that could create issues down the line.

To ensure your expectations are met during the implementation process, there must be strong communication between your internal project team and the vendor.

By defining the milestones and deliverables required during the planning stage, meeting expectations in the implementation stage will be a much smoother process.

2. Data Integrity

Data Integrity

Most often, your software implementation will require the migration of data from an existing system to the new one. Ensuring data integrity throughout the process will be of critical importance, so understanding which data can be translated across systems and which cannot should be a top consideration.

By understanding the level of interoperability between the two systems, you’ll be better prepared to ensure the data is secure, no data gets lost or left behind in the migration, and privacy standards are upheld.

The danger with not keeping a close eye on data integrity during the migration is that you could lose important information related to customers. If information is lost or misconstrued during a transfer, the data could be compromised and unreliable.

During the implementation phase, the project team must continue to verify the integrity of the data, potentially involving a third-party to moderate and ensure requirements are met.

3. Lack of preparedness among your project team

The project team must be aligned on overall goals, processes, and timelines. Each member must be prepared to represent the interests of their department or team and work together to develop the implementation plan.

Part of preparing for the actual roll-out includes determining how much on-premise support the vendor will need to provide during the first days and weeks, depending on the scale of the roll-out.

Another responsibility of the project team is setting up a framework for identifying and addressing common user problems. This could include setting up new channels of communication between users and the project team, as well as enlisting a solution that provides analytics on user engagement and process completion.

In an interview with WalkMe, CIO of enterprise software company Red Hat, Mike Kelly was quoted saying, “Our job as leaders is to deeply understand what our business model is, how it works, how efficient it is, and then introduce and leverage technologies, and get everybody rallied around adopting them in a way that helps mitigate any issues associated with that.”

With such insights, you’ll have a clear and accurate view of the most prominent usability challenges, and be able to swiftly implement a solution.

4. Lack of preparedness among your employees

When implementing new software, there may be resistance from employees who are happy with the existing system and do not want to learn new processes.

It is crucial to fully prepare staff for the changes. Set some time ahead of the implementation to show them the benefits of the new software. Clarify why it’s necessary for their day-to-day and how it will improve the efficiency and quality of their work.

That way, when it’s time for them to start learning how to use the new software they will embrace it instead of rejecting it.

Digital Transformation

5. Lack of support from the vendor

Aside from being contractually obligated to oversee the implementation, the vendor delivering the software should be seen as a partner in the project. Their on-hand expertise will be crucial in ensuring a smooth transition.

Open lines of communication can help to mitigate against the feeling that the vendor disappears after the initial roll-out. The vendor’s customer support representative and development team should be available to answer specific questions, provide expertise and support where needed, and work alongside your IT department to quickly resolve any issues.

Establishing a good rapport with your customer support representative is a great first step. By creating a friendly relationship, working together to solve issues that come up along the way will be much easier and less stressful.

6. Inadequate software training tools

software implementation

Training should be one of the top priorities when implementing new software. After all, if staff don’t know how to use it, what’s the point in having it? Employees need to not only understand the potential value of the software, but how to realize that value in their day-to-day.

The project team’s role is two-fold. First, to communicate the value of the new software and second, to develop an effective onboarding plan. This should include a system for getting employees up to speed on how to complete core processes and utilize features with confidence. It may be helpful to appoint “super-users” who can be on hand to answer questions and help resolve issues. After the initial onboarding, there needs to be continuous employee training on new features and workflows.

A Digital Adoption Platform is a proven way to onboard new software users quickly and with minimal disruption. By guiding users through with step-by-step instructions and contextual learning,  DAPs enable “learning in the flow of work.”

That means employees can learn to complete unfamiliar processes independently as they actually do their work. Instead of wasting time in the classroom and then attempting to recall everything they learned, a DAP ensures all of the necessary information and resources are always accessible.

7. Declining productivity

There is a high risk there will decline in productivity during a software implementation. Not only is this a threat to the ROI of the new software, but it can also lead to decreased morale among staff.

DAPs can help you prevent this productivity drop by shortening employees’ time-to-competency, or the amount it takes for them to complete tasks at the optimal speed.

Contextual learning

A DAP achieves this through contextual learning, which provides tailored guidance and real-time support based on individuals’ current needs. It automatically assesses factors such as experience, role, and department, as well as what task an employee is trying to perform, to help employees complete their work and maintain productivity levels.

The devil is in the detail

Implementing a new software platform is a big task that requires detailed planning to ensure smooth execution. If your planning is effective, it should mean that your team is prepared correctly, the software is compliant with the required regulations, and appropriate expectations have been set.

Allow time for proper onboarding so that your employees are comfortable and confident using the software. Training should be seen as a continual process with detailed step-by-step guidance offered at the point of need to ensure minimal disruption to people’s work.

Michal Wagner, Contributor
By Michal Wagner, Contributor
Michal has extensive experience writing on subjects ranging from Human Resources technology, Digital Transformation in the workplace, Financial Services and Telecoms tech. Together these give her a wide perspective on issues pertaining to workplace management and the incorporation of technologies. She enjoys taking complex topics and breaking them down to make them interesting and readable.