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The Ultimate Checklist for Evaluating Software Onboarding

To quote venture capitalist Marc Andreessen, “software is eating the world”. In 2019, global spending on enterprise software rose 8.5% to reach a staggering $453BN—while it’s estimated that the average company now uses around 16 different SaaS applications. But before you go and invest all your hard-earned cash on the swankiest new tools on the market, there’s one major factor that you need to first consider: onboarding.

Unlike their legacy counterparts, modern enterprise software allows organisations to streamline internal processes, bolster their data analysis capabilities, get to know their customers better, reduce the risk of downtime, and improve their offerings. In order to secure these benefits, proper onboarding is a critical step.

Onboarding, defined as “the process of helping new users get started and stay engaged”, is crucial. Difficulties in onboarding a software can have a drastic impact. They might lead to customer-facing outages, loss of productivity, rising implementation costs, or even affect your team’s morale. Therefore, it’s crucial that you pick an enterprise software partner that has a seamless end-to-end onboarding process.

In this blog post, we will:

  • Explore common challenges in implementing software.
  • Explain why it’s so important to pick a software provider that has the right end-to-end onboarding process in place.
  • Provide you with a detailed checklist to help you evaluate new enterprise solutions’ onboarding processes going forward.

Common Challenges while Onboarding Software

Needless to say, not every onboarding process is created equal. Before we dive into what you should be looking for in an onboarding process, let’s first explore what you need to avoid—and why.

There are three main areas to consider:

  • Duration

These days, there’s a myriad of challenges in implementing software. Organisations have to contend with multiple post-purchase considerations: integrations with existing technology, application refactoring, and changes to their internal network architecture, to name but a few.

As we all know, time is money—so the duration of the onboarding process is a major factor to consider when picking your new enterprise software provider. The best companies will make this process as seamless and speedy as possible. The worst, however, will drag this out. The endless back-and-forth will cause never-ending frustration and hamper productivity. On top of that, project implementation costs will rise far beyond original expectations.

  • Accessibility

Accessibility is a core factor in determining how long it’ll take to implement a new enterprise software solution. Have you ever suffered from post-sale abandonment? Has a company that was once so speedy to respond to your questions and queries suddenly gone cold once you’ve signed on the dotted line and committed to them?

Onboarding software is a tricky process—as such, you need to make sure that you’ll be able to maintain an ongoing dialogue with your new provider’s team when onboarding their enterprise software solution. If you’re simply left to your own devices and forced to figure everything out on your own, then the onboarding process will likely be littered with more mistakes on your end, take longer, and be less effective.

  • Training

Before you hop in a car, you need to learn how to drive. Likewise, before you implement an all-singing, all-dancing enterprise software solution, your organisation needs to receive detailed training.

This training should be organised, have a clear structure, and clearly teach every single member of the organisation all that they need to know to properly make best use out of this new piece of software.

What’s more, it should also be personalised according to your business, your industry, and even your internal departments. While HR and finance teams will both use CRM software, the ways in which they do so will differ greatly—so onboarding should reflect this.

If your software provider fails to provide adequate training materials, if training is glossed over and doesn’t adequately answer your concerns/needs, or if it ceases without appropriate confirmation that you’ve learned all you need to know, then your chances of successful implementation will greatly suffer.

Why is it so important to pick an enterprise software provider with the right onboarding process?

Challenges in implementing software are more than just a slight annoyance. If you’ve invested in a comprehensive enterprise software solution, such as an ERP system, then it’s crucial that your employees start using the tool right away.

Failure to do so could have a drastic impact on your company. The project will take longer, and cost more, than was planned. Efficiency and productivity will plummet. Customers will quickly become dissatisfied with the knock-on effects of your internal disarray. As such, your reputation will rapidly diminish.

Is this slightly overdramatic? Maybe. Could it end up happening? Most definitely.

When the onboarding process goes wrong—for example, when you experience data loss when trying to integrate a new solution into your existing system, or you suffer a customer-facing outage when implementing a new piece of internal software—then any value that you offer to customers is suddenly wiped out.

Imagine you’re a bank. Even the most minor period of downtime could affect millions of transactions across the globe, and will therefore have a significant effect on your reputation going forward. On the other hand, a quick, reliable, and comprehensive onboarding process will instill users with confidence. This means that you’ll be able to focus your time on ensuring that your company is using the software to its fullest advantage and providing the utmost value to its customers.

Every business wants to be more productive and provide more value—that’s a given. The right onboarding process will help you achieve this. You’ll spend less time troubleshooting, conducting internal training, and communicating with the provider to ask what’s going wrong.

Finally, you also need to ensure that you get the best bang for your buck. While you might have chosen a provider that seems to be of great value, if you then have to waste unnecessary resources correctly onboarding this system into your business, then the initial cost-savings are quickly forgotten. Take Leaseplan, for example. In 2016, the vehicle management company tried to deploy an SAP Core Leasing System (CLS) across their 32 global offices.

Despite their initial success, Leaseplan soon ran into implementation problems—so much so, that by the time the company abandoned the project in 2019, they’d wasted no less than $100 million on what had ended up to be a complete failure. 

Productivity, customer satisfaction, reputation, and the bottom line—these are all crucial elements to running a successful enterprise. Choosing an enterprise software solution with a subpar onboarding process can hamper all of these elements, so it’s crucial that you make the right choice.

The three-step checklist for evaluating a software onboarding process

Right, so we’ve explored common issues that organisations face when onboarding new enterprise software solutions and the effects that this can have on their day-to-day operations. Now comes the bit that you’ve all been waiting for: the ultimate checklist for evaluating a new enterprise software solution’s onboarding process.

By ensuring that your new provider meets these three must-have requirements, you can put your enterprise in the best position to properly implement new software without any glitches or hitches.

  • Make sure they understand your business and your industry.

They need to demonstrate precisely how their tool will help your company achieve its goals. As Scoro puts it, “With business software, modern onboarding starts with understanding you as a customer—your current situation, current setup, your priorities, what you want to achieve with the new software, and your definition of success.”

  • Make sure they clearly outline the full scope of the onboarding project.

According to SaaS Metrics, this might include things like an initial proof of concept, workload assessment estimations, details pertaining to network architecture and connectivity, testing phases, key monitoring metrics, and more. You don’t want to be promised a smooth onboarding process only to suddenly realise that you’ll have to revamp your internal software/hardware or change your servers—so make sure the provider genuinely understands the full scope of work.

  • Make sure they provide comprehensive training and ongoing support.

Of course, this can take a variety of formats. Training might consist of in-person sessions, comprehensive user guides/supporting materials, or a series of ‘How-to’ videos on their YouTube channel. Meanwhile, support may come in the form of ongoing emails to your account manager, using their website’s self-service portal with the help of chat support, or regular check-ins (either in-person or via video conferencing tools).

However, no matter how this training and support is offered, the key thing is to make sure that they’ll be on hand to help you throughout the onboarding process. Sure, a one-off written guide can be very useful, but what happens if you have a problem that’s not outlined within the guide? Ongoing support is the key to making sure that your enterprise software solution will provide long-term value within your organisation.

Get on board with great onboarding

An enterprise software solution is only as good as the onboarding process that follows. Picking the wrong partner can severely impact your entire organisation. You’ll face countless delays, diminished organisational productivity, endless frustration, and rising project costs. In short, it’s to be avoided at all costs.

When picking an enterprise software provider, ensure that they understand your business and your industry, that they clearly outline the full scope of the project, and that they provide comprehensive, ongoing training and support.

If they do, then you can’t go wrong.

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