Enterprise software implementation doesn’t have a reputation for being quick, easy, or painless. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Follow these tips before, during, and after your insurance license compliance management implementation for the best shot at success.
Why software implementation (usually) sucks
Studies by Gartner, McKinsey, and Boston Consulting Group have found consistently high rates of failure (upward of 70 percent!) among software implementations regardless of the industry. And, while a lot has changed since 1986, this high failure rate for software implementation is one thing that’s remained largely the same.
Whether a failure is measured by a blown timeline or budget, a lack of ROI on the chosen solution, or even a complete abandonment of the initiative, it doesn’t have to be this way. McKinsey reports success rates of 90 percent or higher are possible when companies combine digital best practices and operational discipline.
So, why is software implementation such a pain? If you’re a human, it probably won’t surprise you that most of the difficulties and failures fall on the human side of the equation, not the technology itself.
Many organizations get stuck in the same common traps:
- Choosing a solution for the wrong reasons
- Not including all necessary stakeholders from the start of the project
- A lack of strategy surrounding the scope and goals of the project
- Not clearly defining roles and responsibilities
- Inadequate internal change management
- A lack of (good) project management
- Low levels of internal adoption
The good news is, implementing a producer compliance management system doesn’t have to come with these roadblocks. We’ve seen organizations of all sizes make it through implementation successfully and achieve nearly instant ROI.
1. Tips for success before implementation
In sports, the best defense is a good offense. In medicine, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In software implementation, a little bit of forethought before starting will go further than ten-times as much cleanup work later.
Take an honest look at your organization’s readiness for change
Before you do anything else, take a hard and honest look at your organization. Does the culture support adoption of new technology? A major cause of software implementation failure is that organizations aren’t as tech-forward or willing to adopt change as they’d like to think they are. Leaders set out to bring change and innovation to their organizations, only to find out their own aversion to adopting new technology is a major roadblock.
McKinsey cites culture as the No. 1 “self-reported barrier to digital effectiveness.” In other words, people are open to change “in theory” but possibly not so much in practice. If your organization is averse to change, your chances of successfully implementing any new solution are going to be lower. That doesn’t mean it can’t be done. It does mean, however, that you’ve got an uphill battle and each of the other steps (specifically a change management strategy) are even more important.
Choose your solution based on your business needs
There’s no shortage of shiny new tech toys on the market these days. One of the first mistakes organizations make is choosing a solution that doesn’t align with their actual problem. Picking a solution based on your business needs gives you the best chance of success. This may mean you’ll need to put thought into defining your business needs before you even begin looking for a solution, which isn’t a bad thing at all.
Define what a successful outcome looks like from the start
Once you’ve identified the challenge, decide what successfully addressing it looks like. Be sure to include the perspective of different stakeholders so you don’t define success from one angle and ignore what it looks like from another. For example, if your finance team thinks success means coming in under budget, but your operations team views success as reducing the number of hours they spend on manual tasks, you’ll need to have both objectives on the table as measures of success. It’s also important to prioritize which outcomes will dictate success or failure. If the project exceeds your planned budget, but yields huge productivity gains for your compliance staff (thereby saving training and hiring costs in the long run), is that really a “failure?”
Get a variety of stakeholders involved early
For the overall success of your software implementation, you need everyone from the ultimate end-users to the executive sponsors to the finance and legal departments to be involved from the beginning. It won’t help if your C-Suite buys in while the actual day-to-day users aren’t consulted any more than it would work if the process is driven by users with no support from organizational leadership. The most successful implementations give everyone a seat at the table to help shape the strategy and goals.
Come to the table with clean data
Nothing stops an IT project dead in its tracks like dirty data. And we’ve written all about this before. Regardless of the solution you’ve chosen to go with, having clean and accurate data is a key ingredient for success you can’t ignore. Before starting any kind of project that involves data migration, take the time to evaluate the state of your current data including how current the information is, whether it includes everything it needs to, and even if the right pieces of information are housed in the right places. If you find problems, taking the time to address them before you begin will be the least painful way to proceed.
2. Tips for success during implementation
Once you’ve laid the groundwork, you can begin implementation. Here are three things to keep in mind while you’re in the thick of it.
Clearly define responsibilities internally and with your vendor and other tech partners
When everyone thinks someone will do it, no one does. This is particularly applicable to software implementations, especially when your organization partners with a vendor and other third-party technical resources. It’s vital for success to define clear roles and responsibilities, assign tasks to specific people or groups, and create accountability for each piece of the puzzle. Laying this out from the start will avoid the issue of multiple people working on the same thing without knowing it and the issue of gaps where no one is addressing a specific need.
Don’t underestimate the importance of project management
Every circus needs a ringmaster. It sounds overly simplistic to say that excellent project management practices are a key to successfully implementing a new producer license management system, but it’s just as true as it is obvious. McKinsey lists “excelling at core project management practices” as a vital component for success. What this actually means could be its own research paper, but our point is you need to make project management a priority, not an afterthought.
Create realistic timelines and don’t scramble to meet unrealistic and artificial deadlines
Everyone wants their project to finish on time but that’ll never happen if you’re in such a hurry that you cut corners during the planning and implementation process. Expert IT implementation consulting firm PEMECO says teams not being given enough time is the most common people-related failure point they encounter in software implementation. On the other hand, longer isn’t always better. McKinsey found that the longer a project is scheduled to last, the greater its chances of running over time and over budget.
What matters most is that teams are given sufficient time to complete the project correctly without being rushed. At the same time, it’s important to hold people to realistic deadlines. Just make sure the deadlines you set are based on real factors and not arbitrary “because we feel like it” ones.
3. Tips for success after implementation
Once your solution is up and running, it’s tempting to think implementation is over. But that’s not really the case. You can’t call it a day until your users are trained and the new solution is delivering value (like making your employees’ lives easier, reducing manual processes, and smashing internal and external silos). There are still a few things you can do at this stage of the process to ensure your implementation truly ends in success.
Use your vendor as a partner but not your sole source of change management communication
No matter which solution you choose for simplifying your insurance licensing and compliance management, the vendor should have a robust customer success team, training resources, and customer support. Side note: If they don’t, please consider checking out AgentSync before you go any further with them!
Even so, your vendor doesn’t know your organization like those inside it do. For the most successful implementation, your organization needs to own the change management process from start to finish. Your vendor can provide tons of great resources and materials to help, but unless you’ve specifically hired a firm to oversee your change management, don’t expect all the work to be done for you.
Take advantage of the resources your vendor makes available
Yes. All of them. At AgentSync, we have a large number of resources to help customers be as successful as possible after implementation. This includes regularly scheduled webinars, an on-demand training library, a customer academy, and personal customer success contacts. It never feels like there’s enough time in the day to take advantage of them, but we know customers who make training a priority get more from their solution (and do so more quickly). If you’re in a leadership role, use your influence to get the end-users trained as well.
Communicate often across a variety of channels to support the change
This is change management 101, but it bears repeating. When you’re ready for your employees to start using a new system, whether that’s a producer compliance management system or anything else for that matter, communication is key. In fact, communication begins well before the system is up and running. It’s important to remember that people learn and absorb information in different ways, so communicating multiple times, across different channels, and providing more than one method for learning about the upcoming changes is a great strategy. A few examples include emails, company intranet, town halls, one-on-ones with managers, videos, and webinars.
Whew! You made it! Implementation is over. Well, not quite… Although the mental journey through some best practices is. If you’d like your insurance producer compliance management system implementation to be as easy as reading this blog, see how AgentSync can help. With a net promoter score of 70, our customers and their satisfaction are proof that we can make implementation significantly less painful, and more successful, than you think.