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  • Writer's pictureHeidi Seal

Project Planning for Tech Integrations: My Guide for CFOs

As a Systems, Workflows and Software Integrator at Business Sense, I've helped over 100 small businesses connect the dots across systems, aligning processes, people, and software to streamline operations. Implementing new software of any kind, including across the Xero ecosystem.

Here's my guide for CFOs to navigate the complexities of integrating new technology seamlessly:

When a Project Plan is Essential

In my role, I often advise businesses when and how to develop a project plan for new tech integration. I like to break down a project plan into these main areas:

  • Software Scope and Selection

  • Configuration and Integration

  • Data Migration

  • Testing

  • Training

  • Go Live

  • Go Live Support

If you are implementing a piece of software that needs three or more of these aspects and involves more than one staff member, a project plan is not just beneficial – it's crucial.

Setting Clear Objectives

Start with identifying the pain points your new technology should address. For instance, if your current system fails to provide clear metrics, your objective could be to achieve crisp, timely visibility on key data. This problem-solving approach ensures your objectives are focused and attainable.

Individual Accountability + Collaborative Planning

I would always recommend designating a single project owner for clarity and direction, but it’s vital that they then involve all key stakeholders. The project owner writes the initial project plan, seeking input and tweaking as necessary with other key stakeholders. A weekly cadence meeting to track progress, keep accountability and ensure everyone is on track is a simple mechanism to keep things moving forward.

Choosing the Right Software

I advocate for a straightforward approach to software selection: a comparison sheet. List your "must-haves" and "nice-to-haves" and rate how various platforms perform against these criteria. Essential to this process is team input – understanding their needs, current challenges, and desired features ensures your choice aligns with the users’ requirements. Some good questions to ask your team might be:

  • What's working well with what we currently use?

  • What's not working well?

  • What features / functions / integrations would solve the gaps we fill manually?

Overcoming Implementation Challenges

Early and thorough testing by end-users is crucial to iron out any kinks. I’ve noticed that change can be uncomfortable for teams – as they learn a new way of doing their work, old processes are made obsolete and things settle in. Using a new platform often feels like you need to completely rewire your brain, so everyone needs to have a bit of grace with themselves to learn from scratch. Talking about challenges up front makes a huge difference. Communicate openly about the transition, and remember, perfection isn't the goal – it's about improving processes.

Effective Training Strategies

Training should be tailored to various roles within your organisation. For a new job management platform, for instance, system admins, salespeople, finance, procurement, project managers, and timesheet users would all benefit from targeted training sessions. Additionally, “drop-in” problem-solving sessions in the initial weeks and follow-up training on advanced features can significantly aid in adoption.

In my experience, implementing new technology in a business isn't just about the tech itself. It's about understanding the interplay between processes, people, and the tools they use. For CFOs, who are increasingly taking on strategic roles in tech implementation, the focus should be on not just efficiency but leveraging technology for informed decision-making and business growth.

In the end, the success of new tech integration lies in meticulous planning, collaborative effort, and the willingness to adapt and learn. As you embark on this journey, remember, the right technology, when correctly implemented, can be a game-changer for your business's efficiency and profitability.


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