Migrating to a new construction project management software platform can be a far-reaching business decision—but it involves more than simply paying a new vendor.
The most successful migrations consider seven factors before the process begins:
- How much will the migration cost?
- Is everyone on board internally?
- How will you transition your data to the new platform?
- How much transition support will the new company offer?
- Who is the point person inside your organization who will manage the transition?
- Who will be trained first?
- How will you test the new platform?
“There’s always a cost to implementing new project management software,” says Andrew Cole, a Toronto-based field sales representative for Viewpoint Construction Software. “Talk to the new provider and look carefully at your own organization so you can allocate an appropriate amount of money and resources to the transition. If you’re expecting to do it for free or on the cheap, you’re not likely to maximize the benefits of that platform.”
New customers should also consider who will be affected by the changeover.
“Project managers may have driven the transition to a new platform,” says Cole. “However, the accounting department might have been satisfied with the part of the platform that most affects them, so from their perspective it looks like a bad break-up. The most successful transitions to a new platform involve getting the entire team on board and helping them to make the transition.”
In theory almost any data a company currently owns—from drawings to accounting files—should translate successfully to the new platform. The company supplying the new platform should stand behind that migration, ensuring that all relevant data can make the move.
“Viewpoint, for example, has standard tools that perform the conversion automatically,” says Cole. “Most of our customers are able to complete that process using just those tools. We also have a data conversion department devoted solely to bring a company’s data across. However, companies should also decide how much of their historical data and transactional details they want to migrate to the new platform. You might decide that you’re only bringing across active projects and referencing older material as historical documents. You have to do a cost-benefit analysis on that.”
Cole notes that the level of support provided by the new company should also be an issue. Customers should determine how much direct support they’ll receive from a company and whether a platform offers them personal, online or telephone support to assist with the implementation. “Promises of unlimited training and support are often simply unlimited access to a phone line,” says Cole. “The quality and availability of support you receive is a much more important factor. How much support is being offered by a consultant devoted to your implementation?”
As a reseller of Viewpoint software products, British Columbia’s Key Business Solutions Ltd. provides new customers with a dedicated project manager to shoulder the initial transition.
“However, it’s just as important for the customer to appoint someone to manage the transition internally,” says Kena Campbell, managing partner at Key Business Solutions. “Just as much as a construction project, they’re building something new inside the company.”
Most Viewpoint customers opt for a “train the trainer” approach to getting the company up to speed with the platform. Training too many people inside the company can actually slow down implementation and consume a lot of time.
“We recommend companies focus on key individuals in each department—purchasing, finance, project management— who are considered power users,” says Cole. “These leaders can not only disseminate training inside their organizations, but they can also translate the training to suit the individual contractor’s business and the ways in which they intend to implement the platform.”
One of the most important aspects of transitioning to a new platform should occur near the end of the migration process.
“You need to thoroughly test the platform before going live on the software,” says Campbell. “For example, we recommend that customers should at least parallel two payrolls using both old and new platforms before they go live. Dedicate appropriate time to testing to get it right.”
This content is sponsored by Viewpoint Construction Software in collaboration with ConstructConnect™ Media. To learn more about Viewpoint, visit www.viewpoint.com.