Purchasing a new digital tool is always going to be a big decision and a lot of thought goes into choosing the right one.
However it’s not just what software you buy, but also how you deploy it that decides whether the outcome will be as successful as you want it to be. It’s certainly not as fun as choosing a physical tool (who doesn’t love a new hammer?), but a detailed deployment plan can make or break the success of your software implementation phase.
What is deployment in software?
First and foremost, to ensure that we’re all on the same page here, let’s agree on what software deployment is.
As far as management software goes, the deployment phase comes right after the buying process is over and you’re ready to start introducing the new solution to your team. The deployment phase will cover the time span in which your company will go from not using a new software to using it efficiently.
As with any other business tool, you can’t expect everyone to hit the ground running on the first day; good business software is user-friendly, sure, but it’s not a free app you’ve downloaded on a whim.
Digital tools can be self-explanatory, but you don’t want your team learning through trial and error alone. This is where having a plan for software deployment comes into play: you’ll want your team getting used to using the software according to the recommended best practices.
The alternative is for them to develop their own roundabout methods and to stick with these until your database turns into a poorly formatted mess, since there was no standard to begin with, or your shift patterns are all over the calendar because nobody bothered to delete all the ‘trial and error’ test accounts.
On the side of the developer, it’s their responsibility to create a software deployment training schedule to help customers transition, either from no solution to theirs or from a different solution to a new one. If this implies face-to-face or telephone training, access to a knowledge database with tutorials, or self-help videos, the customer should be aware that there are costs associated with assisted deployment.
Difference between software deployment vs. software release
More often than not, a software release is part of the development process of a new digital tool and stands apart from the deployment phase; it’s a developer’s responsibility to do this frequently. The latter will also devise a deployment plan during the software release phase, covering the aforementioned training plan and releasing a set of minimum equipment requirements to run the software effectively.
9 advantages of efficient software deployment
Here are nine advantages of software deployment you should be aware of, first in a handy infographic and then laid out in more detail below.
1. Streamline in-house operations and business processes
The main purpose of deploying a management software is to bring every operation onto one screen. Oftentimes, managers and business leaders struggle with deciding between using multiple software for each area (e.g. scheduling, inventory, customer care) or an all-in-one solution.
The former allows for more flexibility and depth of features since its purpose is to do one thing and do it well, while the latter can be more affordable and efficient since users don’t have to do any double-data entry or flip through screens. Generally speaking, smaller companies opt for multiple free solutions, while those who aim to grow sustainably go for the paid all-in-one.
2. Deploy software easily to new users and devices
One of the advantages of having a thorough software deployment strategy is accounting for new hires, as well as equipment upgrades. Not having to rely on any particular hardware means you have the flexibility to dictate your own equipment and your new hires can make use of the existing training resources in order to familiarize themselves quickly with the tool.
At the same time, you can actually make certain software a requirement when recruiting and bypass this phase if the solutions are common enough (e.g. HubSpot for sales).
You might encounter some resistance if you suddenly want to introduce digital tools to more traditional employees, like service technicians, so make sure you’re communicating the benefits well and training them properly to use mobile devices for business.
According to Nisha Raghwani, Head of Client Services at Commusoft:
“You'd be surprised to see that a lot of the people who are traditional and have sort of shied away from technology are often the easiest to train because they don't have any bad habits from other sources. But even if you’ve come from another piece of software, everyone needs to value the training and value what you can learn.”
3. Maintain all software devices in a centralized location
Data centralization means having full access to customer and employee information, at all times, on a single screen. No double-data entry, no back-and-forth emailing with various employees, no collection of spreadsheets.
Centralizing information is one of the biggest advantages of deploying software because every employee has access to the same information, which updates in real-time, thus reducing the potential for errors and misunderstandings. At the same time, your team also becomes more efficient because they can cut out redundant paperwork and focus on other priorities.
4. Help users connect to devices remotely
Working from home has definitely been on our minds lately but it should’ve always been a topic regardless of circumstances. Committing to a good software deployment plan will take effort but it will pay off in the long run, as your employees will always have access to their work dashboard, regardless of their location. Being able to connect to work remotely means your productivity won’t suffer in unforeseen circumstances.
Cloud-based job management software is all about being able to connect information remotely, all so that data isn't simply held in one place. At least not in any one physical system. Instead it's stored in the virtual cloud, which means you can access your information from anywhere in the world as long as you have an internet connection.
When data automatically synchronizes with the cloud, you can keep your staff interlinked and up-to-date with what’s going on and you don’t need us to let you know that can significantly decrease the amount of time wasted on misunderstandings. Additionally, it's added security, can save you space, and can turn out to be cheaper than sending the wrong invoice to a customer.
5. Allow users to install applications via a self-service portal
Turning a challenge into an opportunity is definitely the way to go when it comes to navigating difficult circumstances, and allowing users to install software themselves and on any device will definitely help. As long as you’re using a software with built-in authority levels (e.g. employee, admin, manager) that limit what certain users can do, self-service portals are a great way of unburdening your IT team.
If your chosen digital solution needs to install any application directly to your devices, then it’s best for the end-user to do it themselves. Imagine if you had to manually instal an app on each mobile device instead of simply asking people to visit the App Store or Play Store.
6. Automate software updates
Business leaders and managers who’ve invested in proprietary software will know the pain of having to always peek at the competition to make sure they’re staying ahead. Proprietary software has its advantages, as it’s fully customized to your business, but once deployed, it’s also your responsibility to update it. This, unless you already have a software development team in-house, will naturally come at a cost.
An off-the-shelf software, on the other hand, implies an ongoing cost, rather than a one-off fee, but the responsibility to keep up with the Joneses gets shifted to the provider. This being said, always check reviews and updates before committing to a solution; you don’t want a tool that hasn’t been updated in years.
7. Training during software deployment phase improves efficiency
Speaking of reviews, we’re sure no one moves a muscle in the business world these days without reading reviews, but software training doesn’t seem to get mentioned a lot in these. During the deployment phase, software training is paramount, especially for small businesses, who don’t have dedicated IT teams on hand.
If employees have to call into support daily, then business productivity suffers. Including training into your deployment phase not only gets employees working at full potential quicker, but also ensures they’re making the most out of the investment.
8. Increased efficiency saves you money in the long run
Proper software and its more extensive deployment phase can put people off of investing in digital tools since it’s an added strain on their resources. However, compared to sticking to paper-based, manual methods, the long-run earnings far outweigh the costs.
For example, this paperless savings calculator shows how much a service business can save by using deploying management software. Sure, you might not be in the service industry, but by inputting your own business costs, you can understand the potential for savings, despite what might seem like a big initial investment.
9. Setting up relevant integrations from the get-go
Another advantage of having a dedicated software deployment phase is that it gives you the opportunity to work together with the developer on implementing integrations as well. This ensures that you won’t end up having to match an existing database with the format required by an integration which can take time and a lot of patience.
For example, Sage, the accounting software, integrates with many management solutions and can speed up your invoicing process significantly - as long as your customer information input follows their guidelines. This can also be an excellent opportunity for you to consider other new software that can work along with your currently deploying solution.
There’s certainly a lot left to explore when it comes to committing to a software solution, but the deployment phase is definitely one you won’t want to skimp on. In addition, it’s important to look at the human aspect as well, because implementing a new tool can seem daunting to employees if they don’t feel consulted and allowed some time to adjust.
Whenever you invest in a new tool, digital or otherwise, keep in mind that the end goal is to grow your business and improve the processes that are holding you back now. Adjusting KPIs and communicating the benefits outlined above with your employees will help you get everyone on track and motivated. All in all, software deployment can make your break your chances of success so make sure you’re doing it well!
Cristina Maria is a Marketing Executive at
Commusoft, a job management software company, where she helps field service businesses discover the potential of digital solutions. A curious hybrid writer and marketer, you'll usually find Cristina doing what she loves most: using her work experience to produce engaging content for those looking to make the most out of their business strategies. An Asimov fan since childhood, she gets much too fired up whenever the topic of AI comes into discussion.