Born within 2 miles of the K3 Syspro offices in Salford, Manchester, I am also proud to be a staunch Manchester United (soccer) fan (who also play 3.5miles from our offices). In the last 60 years, Man U has been extremely lucky not only to have had just a handful of managers in this time, but to have had a notable two clocking up 52 years’ service between them; with almost identical reigns of around 26 years apiece. This is unprecedented in the world of English football as it is in any other sport you can think of in the world. However, in 2012 our most recent managerial stalwart hung up his boots, so to speak, and we now have a new man in charge.
Much like the transition between an old, reliable (and successful) software system to a new one, the transition for Man U hasn't been the smoothest road. I have noted recently several parallels in the fortunes of Man U and the experiences that I have had up to now in introducing new systems, as well as the feedback from customers I speak to on the K3 Syspro Helpdesk:
- Long-term ambitions: The decisions taken to replace any long-standing piece of software are always made with specific goals in mind, and such decisions are (and should always be) taken with long-term ambitions in mind. Whilst immediate, short-term success is still very much a possibility (as I hope for this Premier League season!), it is the long-term pay-off that counts as to why such decisions are made; over a 5, 10, 15 year period, and even longer!
- The 'bumpy' introduction: As the new Man U manager is currently experiencing, no new appointment (or software implementation) runs completely smoothly, without a single hitch. There are always unforeseen circumstances and hurdles to jump. Invariably, however, with the right team around you and safe in the knowledge that you are making the right decisions along the way, these initial issues should soon be behind you.
- The change itself: As with anything that has been in place for years (and even decades), the change to something new is always going to ruffle the occasional feather or two. You simply can't bring some qualities (and features) across from one to another, there has to be some compromise and focus on the 'game-changers', the real show-stoppers. As the 15+ year ticketing system at K3 comes to the end of its own glittering career, I too face the same challenges. Some functionality in our new system is simply not available. But the improved productivity, huge time-saving benefits and customer self-service functionality make up for these ten-fold, and give us the platform to improve our customer service over the years to come.
- The criticisms: Decisions ultimately have to be made by those in senior positions, a scenario that can occasionally attract criticism from those below - employees or fans. The simple solution to this temporary problem however, is in the results. Proving to nay-sayers that the right decision has been made by showing them the benefits is absolutely paramount in this situation in winning critics over.
- Time: Sometimes, club owners can be very hasty and swift in their decisions, as can Senior Management where the implementations of new software systems are concerned. A balance has to be struck between getting results yet allowing this to happen in a timely manner. Surely a new software system is not going to bring long-term results in the days and weeks immediately following its implementation? However, given longer for staff to become familiar with the product, and this is when real benefits are realised.
Have you found any of the above to be true? And perhaps overcome these hurdles? Let’s hope you have and let's also hope David Moyes soon overcomes his critics!