defining-it-project-successPart 5 of 5
In my last post I wrote about executing the Implementation Plan. In this post we’ll focus on post implementation maintenance and process optimization. Like a high performance car, your newly implemented process needs maintenance and care to keep it running at peak performance. I’m going to point out 4 ways you can maintain and optimize your D-Tools implementation:

1. Document Your Process
2. Process Analysis and Improvement
3. Database Maintenance
4. Broaden the Scope of Your Implementation

Document Your Process
A business process is a written explanation of how and in what order you want each project task performed to result in an efficient and consistent outcome. One of the first steps you should take in optimizing your process is to document it, which fosters a higher level of understanding about the process itself.

If you don’t currently have a documented process, what a great opportunity to get one started! Use your D-Tools process as a starting point. I guarantee, by going through this exercise you will have a much clearer picture on how D-Tools is used within you company and it will result in greater levels of benefits for you and your staff.

There are many advantages to having a documented process; one of which is communicating a consistent message to your staff.  Implementing a new software application that integrates many business functions (like D-Tools) can leave your team confused about the overall picture and this is an excellent way to keep everyone informed.

Process Analysis & Improvement
Having a documented process as described above is a big help in process analysis and improvement. Having a clear understanding of the company’s current process is key to making changes to that process to add greater levels of efficiency. Take McDonald’s for example, their entire business has been based on a continuous process improvement cycle to bring more customers through the building with the least amount of resources. Their original process map was drawn in chalk on a tennis court!

Solicit feedback from your team about how things are going with the process. Ask for ideas about how the process can be improved or how D-Tools can be used to make their job more efficient. This type of proactive feedback is invaluable and should be treated as such, regardless of whether or not you choose to implement it.

Remember – as you make adjustments and improvements to your process, keep your flowchart up to date!

Database Maintenance
Keeping your database up to date is a key element to your success with D-Tools. You need to identify database maintenance as a key component of your D-Tools process. The database maintenance process has been made significantly easier with the release of Si 5 (those of you who used Si 4 can attest to this!). The utilities such as EZ Match import and CSV export/ import make updating pricing on items a breeze. The key points for maintenance are pricing changes and new model additions. Keeping a focused, “core” database of products helps to keep your database manageable.

Depending upon your staffing and available resources you may choose to identify one individual as the responsible party or you may choose to distribute the responsibility; there are pros and cons to each method. Either way, keeping the database up to date and accurate is critical to sustained success with D-Tools.

One Person Responsible
Having one person as the main contact for database maintenance helps keep the database managed in a consistent manner. As you don’t have too many hands in the cookie jar, things get entered in a repeatable manner, keeping the database clean and organized. The disadvantage to this approach is having to rely on one person, especially if they aren’t readily available to make database updates when required by your users.

Distributed Responsibility

Distributing the responsibility for database management can be very useful as well. Having multiple responsible parties allows for updates to be made in a timelier manner. This is especially true for companies who can’t dedicate a staff member to manage the D-Tools database as part of their daily duties. The disadvantage to this approach is it can be more difficult to maintain a clean, organized database. This can be solved by using a set of standards for the database entry. One company, Federal Technologies in Abu Dhabi, created a user manual for their database entry that outlined the standards they put in place.

Broaden the Scope of Your Implementation
Another key element to optimizing your implementation is to broaden the scope of your use of the software. Are you making use of all the tools available to you? Look back to the four major business functions offered by D-Tools:

  1. Sales
  2. Design
  3. Accounting Integration
  4. Workflow Management

Are you using each of these tools to its full potential? If you chose not to implement one of these functions at the outset of your implementation – maybe now would be a good time to revisit this.  D-Tools Version 5.5 includes a major feature addition for Scheduling.

Please let me know if you have any requests for future articles in the Implementation Station category.  Don’t forget to read the first four posts in the series.

If you would like to receive some helpful implementation support materials from MED that support the implementation planning process described in this series of posts Click Here.