Even if everything goes well, database implementation is a significant undertaking for any business–comprised of multiple complex processes, from software development and testing to integration with applications, to training end-users, to maintenance.
And though the bulk of the implementation work might fall on your IT department, virtually every other department will ultimately be affected, even if indirectly. The inescapable truth is that database implementation is difficult and time-consuming for a business. It’s likely that there will be bumps in the road on the way to full functionality.
But if you’re fully prepared going in, the database implementation process hurts a little less. That starts with recognizing and avoiding common mistakes.
Take Requirements Gathering Seriously
If your business is implementing a new database, it’s likely because your legacy systems were underperforming in one or several important ways. This presents a huge opportunity to address any pain points presented by your former system.
Before you begin the process, take the time to critically evaluate your business needs and requirements. Determine the areas in which your business faces challenges. Solicit feedback from employees and other database end-users. It’s important to talk to all stakeholders that will be affected and document requirements for each. Be thorough and exhaustive.
Failure to gather sufficient (or sufficiently accurate) information upfront can lead to difficult-to-execute changes during the implementation process. Of course, it’s always important to have an agile and flexible design team. But minimizing the possibility of large-scale disruptions during implementation is key. The more your design team understands the needs and preferences of stakeholders and end-users before work begins, the less likely such disruptions are to occur.
It’s a no-brainer that the first step for any organization is to plan the scope of your project–This will likely cover design team development, scheduling, database design specifications and requirements, and training.
But it’s after the initial planning period where many companies run into problems. That’s because they don’t expect to continue adapting and responding to a changing development landscape as the project unfolds. For a large project like database implementation, you’ll likely need to put together detailed plans multiple times during the entirety of the process.
Database implementation takes time to design, deploy, and scale within an organization. Continuous planning and patience are essential for success.
Have SOLID Leadership In Place
There will be those who resist change—even if change is needed and long overdue. It’s thus essential to have leaders in place throughout the implementation process that understand the importance of the change and genuinely believe it will be successful. Getting a project off the ground and moving in the right direction is vitally important for establishing momentum. Leaders must have a vision as well as a solid plan and help their team see it, as well.
Shepherding a project through important milestones and keeping things on track, even during hard times, requires strong management skills. Accurate and timely communication between stakeholders is important, as are regular cross-departmental meetings in which leaders interact with a clear view on a project’s progress (or lack thereof). Managers must understand how everything broadly fits together, keeping track of stakeholder needs and the progress of the design team, and reporting information to executives as required.
Competent change management is what makes large-scale business transformation successful. It behooves businesses to do their best to hire people with morale-boosting expertise that also have a solid understanding of technology and the processes required to design, deploy, and scale it.
Set Up Multiple Test Users
Testing is important for any new system, both during and after implementation (if possible). Database testing requires understanding the needs of all categories of end-users, from employees to clients to customers. Organizations can fall short when they don’t identify and test all potential applications of new software (including new possibilities enabled by the database implementation itself).
Organizations must also prioritize accurate predictions of user load for a new system and use those predictions to test the system’s capabilities at scale.
You don’t want to deploy your product only to find out that it isn’t usable in the way it was intended to be. Proper testing mitigates that risk.
Train, Then Train Again
Just as an initial implementation plan is unlikely to account for all contingencies, a one-and-done training session likely won’t suffice for your employees to fully understand a new database. Database changes can occur along many dimensions, from use cases to user interface to applications. And changes in a database are likely to affect even those who don’t use it directly.
It’s important to train from the top-down, ensuring that each personnel category has a full understanding of how new software will affect their duties within an organization. Even employees who are somewhat peripheral to database use or management should be part of the training because it gives them a chance to work with the software and understand how it might affect them.
Continuous training for employees who will use, manage, and maintain a database is a crucial part of successful business transformation. The work doesn’t stop once a new database is deployed.
Don’t Underestimate Customized Software
Database implementation is costly, time-consuming, and can be disruptive to business in the short term. It will affect every aspect of your organization either directly or indirectly. Getting it right is important.
These days, it’s possible for any business to stitch together an overall software solution using a menagerie of commercial off-the-shelf software applications. But the pursuit of that kind of solution is risky—likely to end up a disjointed disappointment if not a full-scale disaster.
One major benefit of custom software development is that businesses can avoid being constrained by software capabilities or computational architecture. Implementing custom software allows you to dictate the terms of your business’s needs and potential for growth. The results are seamless integration, improved patient care, and enhanced security.
Being well-versed in contemporary software development methodologies, illumisoft has the industry expertise and technical know-how to help any healthcare organization with its database implementation needs. From consulting to deployment to long-term maintenance, we have a track record of not only helping healthcare companies achieve their potential, but being part of the solution for the long haul.