The pandemic necessitated that many teams conduct much of their work remotely, and the remote work trend gained significant traction, offering numerous advantages. However, when it comes to software implementation projects, there are good reasons to consider on-site or partially on-site implementation approaches.
I know what you may be thinking: “Software is a digital technology. Programming and configurations can be completed from anywhere in the world as long as project members can securely access the right systems.” And technically, you’re right. However, I’ve learned firsthand that when project stakeholders have a physical presence at a common location, you can unlock many benefits that enhance collaboration, communication, and project success.
That is why having implementation teams on-site – or partially on-site – remains valuable in a remote-first era. Here are the advantages I’ve come to appreciate:
1. Strengthened Team Dynamics and Trust
Building strong team dynamics and fostering trust is crucial for the success of any software implementation project. On-site work arrangements offer opportunities for team members to bond, collaborate, and develop a sense of camaraderie. In addition, informal interactions during breaks or team-building activities foster a positive work environment and encourage the team members to get to know each other personally.
For example, I witnessed the positive impact of informal interactions first-hand when we arranged a social day at Crazy Golf to celebrate project success. As a result, the whole project team had a great time together and got to know each other personally. These personal connections created a foundation of trust that promoted a positive and efficient work environment, mutual support, better teamwork, and increased accountability, ultimately leading to improved project outcomes.
2. Seamless Collaboration and Communication
Software implementation projects often require extensive stakeholder collaboration, including Functional Consultants, Implementation Specialists, Project Managers, Program Managers, End-Users, and IT teams. On-site or partially on-site work environments facilitate real-time, face-to-face interactions, fostering seamless collaboration and effective communication. Direct, in-person discussions allow for quick resolution of issues, exchanging of ideas, and the building of strong working relationships. In addition, by being physically present, team members can better understand and respond to each other's needs, resulting in increased productivity and higher-quality project outcomes.
For example, I remember a long-standing single sign-on (SSO) issue was quickly resolved by having all the right teams in the same room. The consultant on the project took the initiative not to spend any more time going back and forth on JIRA tickets, and they informed the customer of the same (because they had built a great rapport and trust with each other and felt comfortable to take this initiative). They requested a meeting with the IDP provider, and within a two-hour session, the team managed to resolve the issue.
3. Enhanced Problem Solving and Decision Making
Complex enterprise software implementation projects often involve critical problem-solving and decision-making processes. On-site settings provide an ideal platform for rapid problem resolution. Face-to-face interactions enable immediate access to subject matter experts and decision-makers, which can significantly expedite issue analysis and resolution. In addition, the ability to read non-verbal cues and contextualize information leads to more accurate decision-making and reduces the likelihood of miscommunication or misunderstandings. Being physically present in the room enhances this ability. Additionally, the consultants feel empowered to be accountable for customer deliverables.
4. Accelerated Knowledge Transfer
Software implementation projects often require knowledge transfer between project teams and end-users. The project team being on-site provides an immersive learning environment, allowing for more efficient knowledge sharing. Team members can conduct interactive training sessions, workshops, and demonstrations, ensuring end-users fully grasp the software's functionalities and corresponding benefits. The direct presence of trainers and mentors facilitates immediate feedback, clarifications, and personalized assistance, ultimately accelerating the learning process and minimizing the learning curve for all parties involved.
5. Client Engagement and Satisfaction
On-site work can significantly enhance client engagement and satisfaction. Daily stand-ups for all workstreams allow various teams to share execution plans, demonstrate progress, share insights, and gather real-time feedback. (There is something special about being in the room and brainstorming collaboratively; the space becomes positive and energetic). Clients can also witness the implementation process firsthand, fostering a sense of involvement and assurance. Face-to-face interactions build stronger client relationships, increase transparency, and ultimately contribute to higher client satisfaction rates.
While remote work has proven its worth in various contexts, software implementation projects can still benefit significantly from an on-site or partially on-site implementation approach. The advantages of strengthened team dynamics, seamless collaboration and communication, enhanced problem-solving and decision-making, accelerated knowledge transfer, and improved client engagement contribute to the project's overall success.
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