Why do most document management software projects fail?

05
Aug
2019
1101 Views

We hear it all the time:

“We’re paperless.”

“We have the latest, greatest software money can buy.”

“We are cloud-based.”

However, when we walk through the office, we see papers being shuffled back and forth and hard copy files being referenced. And then we realize, yes, they have a software system, but it’s a convoluted mess, typically straddling several systems. This leaves staff feeling inefficient and senior executives frustrated with money and time spent with little to show for it.

That’s when a new software salesman comes in and pitches the new golden ticket that can solve all the problems of the old system. And the cycle begins again. After the second or third time, business owners have to look at the problem directly in the mirror.

This is very common.

We see it all the time, and study after study backs up our experience that that document management software projects are largely unsuccessful. Some fail outright, others bring little or no value, and yet more projects that are completed go way over budget and timelines.

Why do so many software projects fail? And how can you avoid these pitfalls?  

  • Problem: The software underdelivers. Many software salespeople promise the moon to get you to sign on the dotted line. However, most businesses require customization and several software programs working together to fully meet their needs.
  • Solution: Read the fine print. Understand upfront if any migrations or integrations or third-party software are needed. Oftentimes, these are separate costs above and beyond the initial scope of work. Failure to fully understand the project can cause budgets to balloon and timelines to double.

 

  • Problem: Lack of communication. Like many things in business – and life in general – communication is often a cause of project failure. Business leaders fail to communicate the reasoning behind a migration to cloud or software conversion or underestimate the time and amount of people involved in getting it done. This leaves employees frustrated or bitter about having to change. Likewise, the failure of the designated project manager to communicate any hiccups along the way, including budget or timeline increases, can catch management off guard and cause tension.
  • Solution: Open communication channels. In the runup to a big implementation change, share the reasons behind it with the whole company and share how it will impact them. Similarly, take time to truly understand the pain points with all end users before you implement and ensure those are taken into consideration. Set up regular check-in meetings with project managers and management to check on status and budget.

 

  • Problem: Failure to adopt. Failure to adopt can usually be traced back to two culprits: inadequate training and the unwillingness to remove the crutch of the old system.
  • Solution: Properly train, then remove the crutch. Budget for training before the project begins. Training needs to be adequate and ongoing to work out any kinks once the software is live. Then remove the crutch of the old system. This will force adoption from the staff. If the training has been adequate and successful, however, removing the old crutch should be less painful.

Given the high failure rate of document management software implementations, many companies consider a third-party partner to help take the project across the finish line. When SRS works with businesses on implementing a new document management software, we take what is good about their old processes and help those processes work within the new system. This ensures that the investment in new software, typically hundreds of thousands of dollars, is a good investment and will benefit the company for many years.

If you’re interested in learning more about SRS’s consulting services for software implementation, please let us know.

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