Net-zero implementation may be a game-changer for you.

“Change is hard, but change is good.” — Henry Rollins

  • Build our product around and into the user’s workflow. The most significant change we made was redesigning the product, so implementation had the smallest footprint on our customers. In our case, our customers used our product in three ways — file extracts, reports, and an interactive dashboard. Simple changes included designing the extract to be in their format eliminating transformation requirements, sending reports formatted in the order they expected to use them in their process, and configuring the dashboard to be a link in the relevant workflow as opposed to a separate site. These changes and a list of many more together reduced the burden of change during implementation.
  • Eliminate all IT changes required. We imagined all the possible barriers and systematically eliminated them. A big one was no new accounts. SSO instead. SSO wasn’t as prevalent then as it is today in large enterprises. No firewall changes and configuration. No need for the client to configure a landing zone for files. Trust me; the list was long.
  • Come with a plan ready-made for them. Implementation typically starts with a generic plan you have to customize with your client. Instead, do as much before to tailor the project and make it seem small in effort and duration. Provide examples of how other clients worked through each of the steps.
  • Create every user interaction point to be intuitive. Based on the friction analysis, we found each point that left users scratching their heads during implementation and worked to eliminate them. Use their language, not ours. Use industry standards, not those we dream up. Without going into endless detail, the point is to do all you can to reduce and eliminate the need for training.
  • Be their change agent. We found our customer’s implementation team did not want to and did not have the energy to be change agents. So we assigned one to help them lead discussions about the new product, the implementation process, our joint goal of a net-zero implementation, and demo how small the impact would be on the user.
  • Empathize with the customer’s implementation team. DO NOT JUMP RIGHT INTO PLANNING. Look at the implementation team as a critical user. Remember that while you may be excited about implementation, they are not. The buyer is often not the implementor and is often not the user. The implementation team on the customer side stands between the buyer’s expectations and the user’s gain. Start the conversation early, get to know them, build a relationship, share stories of implementation glory with other clients, and above all, reassure them it won’t be as hard as they think.
  • Understand how their company works, their processes with the current product, and their view on friction points. Hopefully, at this point, you should have eliminated as much friction as possible in your revised implementation journey. However, there will still be things to address that are unique to each company. Partner with the implementation team, map their implementation and discuss eliminating unique friction points. This mapping exercise, along with empathy, will help calm their fears.
  • Build a joint team that is in it together, not throwing things back and forth. You need to establish a one-team mindset. There is no us vs. them — no pointing fingers and blame. Failure is everyone’s fault. If the implementation is trending negative, get in and help.
  • Make them the hero in their company to the executive sponsor and buyer. Help them look as good as possible — implement before asked, under budget with great feedback from their colleagues and users. Help them tell the story about how amazing things are going.

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