Throughout my career and experience in software support, I’ve found that problems initially seem very straightforward. I’m reacting and adapting to a direct issue with a direct solution. A purely reactive process, and if possible, a complete and ongoing solution.
What’s truly beneficial for my clients is the opportunity to stop these problems from occurring in the first place. Or when they do occur, a 2-pronged short and long-term solution is used to solve the problem for good. In some cases, by no mean feat.
At the core of my experience, the problems I’ve solved in most cases are purely a reactive response. Whether it’s a concept skimmed over, a feature not entirely explained, an expectation or an assumption causing confusion and disappointment – or simply the navigation and explanation of a piece (or in most cases, many pieces) of functionality to be clarified to ensure best practice is achieved, along with a net efficiency increase to the client.
The reality is that there will always be fires to fight and to react to, but these can be minimised to a great extent to the benefit of both your business and the vendor. The set of keys to this being proactive is UAT (User Acceptance Testing), clear setting of expectations – and lastly – getting rid of assumptions.
While there is countless more a platform can do (webinars, community, help centre/knowledgebase, intuitive feature design) the above concepts are integral to the lessening of ongoing proverbial fire-fighting.
Reactive vs proactive support
A pre-emptive strike on the problems that may arise when migrating to a new software solution will almost always result in satisfaction for the client and the vendor.
SaaS software in most cases is designed with a certain business demographic in mind, or built universally in an attempt to serve many different business types as possible. A jack of all trades, if you will.
When considering a platform for your business, obsess over the process the software provides and align it to your business workflow as efficiently as possible. Use your own company data to test the system. From product input to purchase orders, from inventory to sales orders to your accounting process – user-test the entire process from beginning to end.
If there’s something specific to your business that you can’t quite do, seek advice on workarounds or suggest the workflow as a feature.
Expectations and assumptions
Don’t believe the hype. Don’t assume that an advertised feature will work in a certain way with your particular business process or model in mind. Import your data and test absolutely.
When migrating to a new platform, it’s easy to get tunnel-visioned into attempting to force your current process. Adaptation is key, but at the same time, you know what is going to work for your business. Therefore compromise and question accordingly.
Processing errors and data integrity
Most importantly, make mistakes and see how the platform reacts or utilises features to deal with the scenario. You should not have to contact a support team directly every time a mistake is made. The software should provide a solution to revert or fix, or at least provide an explanation as to why an error occurred and how to solve it or work-around it.
Data integrity checking is also crucial prior to your go-live, as you have the ability to reset at any point in time. While not impossible, it’s a lot more difficult to fix and adjust core problems (for example, incorrect base costing for all products) while you’re in the full swing of your business process. Chances are you’ll be able to fix going forward, but not retroactively. While this is not true in all cases/platforms, it’s a good point to consider pre-emptively.
As explained above, UAT is an essential process for setting up new systems. That said, having staff buy-in and good change management is at least equally as important. What most businesses are looking for throughout this process is a win-win situation, and we like to think that’s what we can provide at Waypoint.
Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss how we can support your business through a software migration, and set the wheels in motion for a great experience along the way.