I recently read a good article about mortgage software implementation that suggested mortgage lenders were surprised when it took more than a few days to implement new technology. The author thought implementation time was driven by organization size, but I’d like to suggest there are other factors, under your control, impacting implementation time.
Let’s start by thinking about the “seriousness” of the technology you’re implementing. By this I mean, is it client-facing, or subject to regulation? In other words, would a mistake result in a high price for your firm – in lost clients or failing a compliance test? If your software falls into one of these categories, you should ask your legal team how much time they need to review client-facing documentation, web site content and disclosure delivery. You should also expect keen interest from your marketing team and more than one iteration of colors and artwork.
The second factor, your team’s availability, impacts implementation timeline. When everyone has a “day job,” your deadlines slip because clients and other projects may take precedence over implementing something new. This is especially true if the people on the implementation team representing legal or IT aren’t going to see an improvement in their own processes or tasks with the new software.
Third, the search for perfection delays implementation at many firms implementing client facing software. When your team or other members of your organization start bringing up small changes or enhancements they feel will perfect your client’s experience, your implementation stalls. Sometimes, this happens with internal systems as well, which sounds like, “The Sales team won’t use it unless it _______!” You end up with a stalled project and awkward meetings to discuss why you aren’t meeting your revenue or productivity targets.
Lastly, your organization may not be ready for the new software. This often happens when you implement during a re-branding, rapid expansion or without consensus about the solution. During periods of change, stakeholders need to rapidly reposition for new opportunities or in response to competitors. The implementation team may think they’re ready to roll out only to find a process or branding has changed.
Now that we’ve looked at the common reasons for implementation delay, let’s talk about prevention strategies – what can you do ahead of, and during, your implementation to keep things on track?
- Understand the impact of the software product on your organization. Is it client facing or internal? Is it subject to compliance or a system of record? If so, create a list of your risks or concerns to share with your software vendor. Suggest they send you all the legal disclaimers or compliance decisions ahead of the project start date. Work with them to build the right amount of time legal review into your project plan. This reduces the risk of a go-live delay while you wait for compliance sign off.
- Make sure you are given a team with dedicated time for the project. Remember that your team needs to make configuration decisions, supply the vendor with materials (pictures, text, integration information) and, most importantly, they need to thoroughly test the system before go-live. Talk to your vendor about the roles they recommend for your team. For example, here at MortgageHippo we recommend your team includes people from four areas; Marketing, IT, Compliance and Operations.
- Determine your standard for “good enough” before the project starts — and realize you may miss revenue by delaying implementation for another feature. Talk to your vendor about updating or changing your software after you implement – good software is easy to update and change. If your team knows this isn’t a “one-shot” implementation, they will likely relax and let you get the software live with minimal changes. Use terminology like Minimum Viable Product (MVP) to help your stakeholders understand that the configuration with which you go live may not be the final product. For example, if you need your vendor to do additional development for an integration to reduce manual work, think about letting them complete that work after you go-live. Say you will need to manually transfer applications between a POS application and your LOS – doing that for a short amount of time is probably offset by the additional revenue you will gain by attracting more borrowers.
- Plan for change. We work in a rapidly evolving industry where change is the norm. Use Agile Business practices to make sure you aren’t implementing yesterday’s solution. Instead of fully implementing before showing the product to stakeholders, work with your vendor to implement iteratively, have the vendor do basic configuration then show it to your stakeholders for feedback, then add more configuration and show them again. The greater the number of opportunities for feedback – the fewer bad surprises you’ll receive from your team.
New software boosts productivity and generates revenue. Faster implementations mean more money in your firm’s pocket – so understand your organization’s unique risks, talk to your stakeholders and remove roadblocks so you can implement faster!
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