It’s fair to say that COVID-19 has brought us all challenges in one way or another over the last few months. As a software implementation expert, changing our approach to remotely implement an end-to-end enterprise solution for artwork and labeling management has to be one of the biggest that I have faced (admittedly, it could have been worse).
Pre-Pandemic Working Practices
Face-to-face meetings and workshops used to play a key role in our implementation approach. The initial system design session has always been conducted in person, co-located with the customer and has given us an opportunity to dig deep into the customer process, see what they expect from Veraciti™ and document the details which will enable us to configure a site for the customer to review. Plus, we can start to build the all-important relationships with the key stakeholders we are going to be working with in the upcoming months.
Following on from this session, Veraciti is configured and we again return to the customer’s offices to present their prototype Veraciti configuration, ensuring that our understanding of their requirements is correct.
Making Remote Software Implementation Successful
The objectives of the sessions remained the same, despite them being completed remotely, so we had to be creative about how we were going to achieve this. Shorter sessions were set up allowing us to focus on specific areas of the system and in some cases we could brief the customer on activities that they could complete separately in their own time. A best practice document was shared, keeping the customer on track with any decisions made before the system design session. This was an efficient way of working and we even managed to accommodate different time zones working like this.
Clear communication and decision making at this stage is key. Given the challenges of remote communication, the emphasis was on asking more questions, ensuring both parties understood the consequences of any comments or decisions, which really helped us get to know and understand our customer and their business.
We also saw additional benefits in working this way, such as being able to bring other Kallik experts into specific sessions. Previously this has been difficult to do whilst on site because of time differences and not having specific times for each activity. With us moving to a remote working model, we had to plan the sessions very carefully to maximize efficiency, and this enabled us to invite other Kallik team members to support specific activities. By involving these other team members in this process, we definitely saw benefits later on in the project, and it actually helped to improve communication and alignment between our various teams.
Lessons To Take Forward
There were some challenges, too. Given we operate in the artwork and labeling space, we do like using paper and seeing things printed out. When reviewing more than thirty artworks as a group to identify the commonality and differences this is still the best way to work; you need to see them all laid out together, and this is difficult to achieve on a single screen. Managing this remotely wasn’t easy, and going forward we’ll be looking at introducing new tools which will enable us to achieve the same level of collaboration as though we were co-located.
At this point in time, we don’t know when we will be back to ‘normal’ or what that new normal will look like. However, I think it is so important to embrace what we have learnt during this time and look at ways we can make implementations even more effective. In-person meetings still have their place and add value to the process, but this time should be reduced and replaced with some smaller preparation activity sessions to ensure the face-to-face sessions are more focused. Through this approach, we can make best use of both Kallik and our customers' time.