7 Keys to a Successful Technology Implementation [Part 1]


Posted By Qvidian | Aug 01, 2014


There are more tools, technologies, and software applications in the marketplace than ever before; all waiting to solve the myriad of business challenges nagging you when you rest your sleepy eyes at night. Salesforce.com on its own has over 2,000 apps in its AppExchange with over 2 million app installs.

With so many choices available and slick new technology popping up every day, it can be hard to separate out the fluff. Not a second goes by that a Sales or Marketing leader doesn’t get sucked in by “shiny object syndrome” and buys some new app because they think it’s cool or will magically solve all their problems.

Shiny Object Sydrome

But what happens once you’ve found that real, diamond-in-the-rough software solution that is actually the perfect fit for your business? How do you get buy-in, budget, and approval? And how do you even roll the thing out?

What follows is a two-part blog post from a customer of ours, Bo Crader, Principal Consultant at Blackbaud, on how to successfully implement a new technology solution at your company.

Bo Crader, BlackbaudI had the pleasure of speaking on a panel at the recent Association of Proposal Management Professionals (APMP) conference in Chicago. Our topic was a complex one: “What to consider when implementing a proposal automation system.”

I wanted to share a few key takeaways related to perhaps the biggest challenge of such a project: managing organizational change.

Step 1 - Sponsorship

Executive sponsorshipProposal centers serve many different internal customers across different organizational boundaries, each of whom have their own agendas, budgets and measurements…and appetites for change and innovation.

The first step when implementing a new technology solution is finding an executive sponsor who can articulate a single vision that serves all stakeholders, cut through this knot of competing priorities and has experience driving organizational change through a mix of consensus and decree.

While it is tempting to “go it alone” and implement a proposal management system, in my experience grassroots initiatives only go so far before they hit a ceiling without a sponsor.

Step 2 - Understand and Articulate Value

Understand and articulate valueIt’s all about the money. At least it is to senior decision-makers and executives. IT systems are simply a cost unless they provide value in a measurable way. Why would a CFO approve the purchase of a proposal automation system--or any other technology for that matter--if it is cheaper to do the work manually or outsource?

With that in mind, define the value the new technology solution will provide to your organization:

  • Revenue - How would a new system impact the bottom line of the organization? Will you be able to drive more sales and accelerate business cycles? Deliver services faster and better? Mitigate risk of "bad business" and related internal costs?
  • Gains in efficiency or quality - Will the new system make your organization more agile or faster, or allow you to deliver better quality work? Automate repetitive tasks to allow staff to focus on customer needs, quality and strategy?
  • Reduction of expenditures - Could it reduce costs in other areas? Say, with a proposal automation system, administrative costs to manually update materials or the maintenance of "skunk works" systems currently in place?
  • Intangibles - While a little "squishy" to define and quantify, the solution could impact your culture, organizational alignment, or staff morale, all of which are key to executives and an organization's success.

Keep in mind that value is relative, and will vary based on the types and levels of users. For instance, efficiency measures might be key to managers and staff, but mitigation of risk may have paramount value to stakeholders in regulated industries.

Step 3 - Getting Your Arms Around the Numbers

Measure and analyzeIn the case of implementing a proposal software solution, quantifying, measuring and monetizing various metrics related to your proposal center is key. So much of proposal response and business development is focused on "just getting it done" that process gets lost in the mix, and the cost of proposal and cost of sale can easily balloon.

What is measurable and meaningful will vary by organization, but here are a few to get you started, (using proposal software as the example):

  • The basics:
    • Sales volume (both number of deals and overall bookings)
    • Win rate
    • Average total contract value
    • Number and types of proposals produced (RFP, RFI, RFx, presentation, etc.)
  • Cost of sale:
    • Number and types of resources involved in a proposal (sales team, proposal team, SMEs, business development, management, etc.)
    • Work effort by resource (meetings, documentation, outside of resources)
    • Other costs (travel, production, external resources)
  • Other useful measures:
    • Duration of proposal development cycle and overall sales cycle
    • Opportunity costs (e.g. what are the limitations imposed by your current processes and systems)
    • Work effort spent doing non-value add work (e.g. formatting, rewriting, repetitive tasks, tracking down content)
    • Time spent addressing quality issues (both pre- and post-proposal)
    • Total customer profitability
    • Customer feedback

It is tempting to skip this step, but be careful - you’ll want actual numbers to validate success after go-live, as well as enable you to monitor and “tweak” processes over time.

Download the slides for the recent webinar, “Best Practices for Implementing a Proposal Automation System,” that featured Bo and several other Qvidian customers.

Check out part 2 with the last 4 steps!

Bo Crader (@BoCrader) is a Principal Consultant at Blackbaud, a provider of nonprofit software and services. Opinions, views, and positions expressed here are those of the author and not those of his employer.