You’ve put in the research, evaluated RFPs, and interviewed vendors. After viewing demos and getting answers to questions, you’ve learned more about what makes each vendor’s technology and service unique. It seems that you’re finally closing in on selecting the RMIS that best fits the needs of your organization.
There is, of course, a lot of ground to be covered between now and the point at which the work of putting your system in place is begun. Yet it’s likely—based on first-hand experience or “horror stories” you’ve heard along the way—that you have your fair share of concerns related to implementation.
System implementation marks the transition from the known—however imperfect—to the unknown. Even the promise of moving to a RMIS that significantly improves the organization's ability to manage risk, insurance, and claims data is not likely to make the change completely seamless. This is where selecting the right partner can make all the difference.
Will resistance to change result in a reluctance to organizational buy-in? Could that lead to the wholesale failure to adopt the technology you’ve selected? Is there a way to prevent this resistance from occurring? And when the RMIS you’ve envisioned all along becomes the actual system that the organization depends on, how can you be sure that crucial data, screens, and reports will be available to all the users requiring them?
The approach that you, system users, and your partner vendor take to implementing the system is critical to success. By involving users early on, clearly communicating expectations of all parties throughout the process, and maintaining a willingness to adapt as more feedback is absorbed, the implementation process is more likely to be smooth and successful. This allows your organization to reach go-live with a RMIS that exceeds expectations and serves as a stable foundation for addressing future challenges.
The importance of realistic user expectations
“The results of a number of implementation studies suggest that implementation failure is more likely when users hold unrealistic expectations about a system,” wrote the authors of an MIS implementation study published in 1981. While technology has changed considerably over the past four decades, the adverse impact that unrealistic user expectations can have on implementations remains the same.
35 years later, authors of “The Real Reason Employees Resist Adopting New Technology” stress the importance of realistic user expectations when it comes to implementing new technology. They suggest working “with stakeholders to set realistic expectations for the whole organization.” After all, while “many factors contribute to an implementation failure, lack of user adoption is the number one reason why IT projects fail after go-live.”
What can you do, specifically, to influence the expectations your users have for a new RMIS system?
In Five steps to the “Best (RMIS) Implementation”, Julian Thomas---Regional Head of Process & Systems-UKI, EE & EMA at DHL---suggests that involving users early in the sales process can play a pivotal role in setting user expectations. Not only does early involvement provide input that can be used to select the best system for your organization, it also substantially improves the likelihood of widespread user adoption.
By including a diverse mix of participants early on, Thomas holds that users are likely see the benefits of the system for themselves and “feel much more engaged when implementation time rolls around because [they] will be delivering ‘the team’s system.”
Make testing and feedback expectations clear
As the implementation gets underway, the ongoing involvement of users can play an essential role in identifying major issues or usability concerns that otherwise may arise only after the system is live. Thomas suggests informing “your internal team members that they will need to spend some time—perhaps one or two hours a week for a couple months—being part of the implementation, testing the system and offering feedback.”
This may also mean that you may need to make sure these expectations are reasonable given each team member’s existing workload. Do users have time to perform the testing they’ve been assigned? Ensuring that they do can prevent delays and costly rework later on.
Improve and innovate by welcoming the unexpected
“We purchased the product [Origami Risk] so that we consolidate our policies across the world and gain efficiencies through a centralized global policy module. Mid-way through the implementation, we decided to also capture claim data. Now we are leveraging the platform to track our credit insurance collections as well as our agency events.” - Nick Bognon, Director of Risk Management at Omnicom Capital Inc.
Used in relation to your system implementation, the word “unexpected” probably sounds a bit troubling. However, the word is not meant to imply that you should expect chaos or endure a process that drags on indefinitely. Instead, it means that while the system implementation will be carefully planned, viewing the entire process as merely a simple checklist critically limits the potential for improvement and innovation.
Thomas advises setting initial priorities that are revisited throughout the process as the vendor releases updates that expand on existing functionality or introduce entirely new features. “All of these ideas can become overwhelming if you don’t continually prioritize them. What do you need? What adds the most value? What are the quick wins? How does it all fit together?”
Expect your vendor to provide expertise and insight
Vendors that are true partners in the implementation process use insight, expertise, and tools that make the most sense for the organization with whom they’re working. By walking clients carefully through the process, the right vendor can help a client gain confidence and overcome natural resistance to change.
The way that the implementation team works together, from the vendor staff, to team leaders, to end users, is critical to success. This is true not just upon "go-live", but for years to come.
Forging a strong relationship with clients during implementation is where Origami Risk stands out. Our experienced insurance and risk technology professionals take a collaborative approach to the process, working closely with clients to fully understand the client’s business needs and existing processes before implementation even begins. Instead of simply getting a system up and running as quickly as possible, the focus throughout is on truly partnering with clients, offering insights, and identifying potential solutions that ensure users get all that they can out of their new system.