It has been observed that certain factors are critical for the successful implementation of information systems. These factors fall under both management and technical factors. The critical factors that determine the success of implementation of information systems are:
Top Management Commitment
It has been observed that top management commitment is vital for a successful IS implementation. Whenever there is top management commitment, minor issues and problems do not snowball into major ones and they normally do not pose a challenge. However, in the absence of such commitment even minor issues become unmanageable. It is important that top management commitment for such IS implementation is not only present but is also communicated well within the organization, so that there is no ambiguity about the commitment. This strong signal of the will of the top management makes the work of the implementers easier. Minor issues cease to become issues at all and even major issues are sympathetically dealt with and urgently attended to by the client organization.
IS Team Composition
The implementation of IS is done by a team. The team consists of technical and management specialists from the vendor organization as well as people from the IS department and other stakeholder departments of the client organization. The constitution of the team is a very important and a critical factor in the successful implementation of IS. The team must consist of representatives from the user community, people who were part of the planning team, designing team in the client organization, other stakeholders in the client organization and people from the human resources department. The team must also obviously have members from the vendor organization who have sufficient knowledge of the IS being implemented. Their technical knowledge and managerial competence must be beyond any doubt. It is best if such a team works under the supervision of a top management functionary with sufficient powers and authority to take suitable decisions about the project so that better control can be exercised on the implementation schedules and issues that come up on the floor can be ironed out across the table. The urgency of the implementation in such cases is clearly demonstrated to the entire organization. The acceptability of the IS also improves. If the team consists of members from all stakeholders and is steered by a senior manager.
The team that is created must work in a cohesive manner with a sense of purpose. A unified front must be projected so that acceptability of the project improves. If the team members indulge is public spats, the chances of successful implementation are grim. However, every effort must be made to find out real issues and they must be dealt with in the right earnest. The team members must work as a team in all respects.
IS planning Quality
An IS project is as successful as its plan. If the planning was faulty, the IS implementation will no doubt be faulty. The IS will never be able to supply the kind of information the client desires if the planning has not been done diligently.
Diligent Project Management
The manner in which the implementation project is handled is also another critical success factor. Modern project management techniques must be used to estimate accurate cost and time schedules which must then be strictly monitored and adhered to. Any laxity will result in slippage of deadlines resulting loss of credibility of the project.
Change Management Initiatives and their Effectiveness
The process of implementation is normally a process of change and hence is riddled with challenges. Therefore, change management is probably the single most important factor in most large-scale IS implementations. The change management initiatives must be considered as part of the implementation effort and should be done proactively rather than in a reactive manner. Change management initiatives must also be done with the seriousness that it deserves. A callous attitude towards change management initiatives can cause more damage than good. Hence the attitude of management must be calibrated to suit the initiative.
Communication is a key element in any organization initiative. In IS implementation, communication is a key element for success. Both formal and informal communication needs to be managed for implementing the project successfully. Effective communication will improve transparency and build trust within the client organization, thereby reducing the dependence on change management interventions.
This is a key factor in the successful implementation of a new IS, making the IS acceptable to the users, reduces resistance to the IS and creates a better environment as a whole for the implementation to proceed smoothly. However, the quality of the training must be good and it must be explained to the users, the added benefits of the IS being implemented. The reason for migrating to the new IS will then be clearly understood by the users. Training will also help in the smooth transition from the old system to the new one without hampering the business process efficiency of the organization.
Technical Quality of IS
Even with all the support from the client, the implementation can fail if the basic technical product that comes from the vendor is of bad quality. Technical quality should be of good quality. This is a necessary condition. With bugs in the systems popping up every few minute, the system will have very slim chances of success. Clinch free technical system is therefore a critical factor.
HR Measures to Neutralize Organization Antibodies
Organization antibodies are people who find fault where none exists. Negativity and pessimism are the defining characteristics of such individuals. Sometimes they may also have motives to bad mouth a new system. When the influential staff bad months the new IS system, others follow them. This creates an avalanche effect and confidence in the new system drastically falls. This is an HR issue and has to be dealt with by the HR department in a firm and fair manner. It must be made known within the organization that there exists room for discussion and debate. Several teams and committees that are formed from the planning stage of a new IS initiative must be highlighted as forums for discussion and debate but only at the right time. Once a decision is taken about an IS by the top management, everyone must work towards making that decision a success. Any deviation from this must attract the necessary measures that it deserves. Such a measure will neutralize any antibodies and in their absence the implementation will be smooth.