Here are six common sense lessons in successful software implementation that Earl Lepper of 20-20 Technologies has learned in his experience as a user and provider:

--Define your objectives. As a custom manufacturer you would never take on a job without knowing the client's expectations. In the same way, you and your software provider need to agree on the scope of your needs and ensure that you have specified the right software and service to achieve your goals.

--Who does what? Setting up or enhancing manufacturing systems should involve team members from the customer, the software provider, perhaps a machinery distributor and even third parties for specialty tasks. Be sure everyone involved is equally committed to your success.

--Handoff. Once the purchase decision is made, who picks up the ball and runs to the goal? The buyers and sellers have negotiated and promised functions, features and timetables. At this point it is critical that the designated specialists assigned to the project "inherit" this information. This "handoff session" will avoide a disconnect between promise and delivery.

--Contacts. Each key party (customer, software, equipment) should provide a primary contact person to aid communication, support the implementation and stick with the project from handoff to finish.

--Finger pointing. Successful projects always enjoy cooperation between all parties. Smart buyers bring all parties together before the final purchase decision. A simple conference call should enable all parties to address any questions or misunderstandings and puts everyone on record and on course to achieve common objectives.

--Crawl, walk run. Aggressive timetables for training, set up and customization of systems can be a harbinger of trouble. Instead, set achievable goals for each step, then reap the reward of hitting targets and overachieving on functional performance.

These six steps should help achieve the desired software target. For additional questions, email earl.lepper@2020.net.

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