8 Questions to Ask Your Project Management Vendor About Implementation

8 Questions to Ask Your Project Management Vendor About Implementation

Implementation is a unique time in the user/vendor relationship.

It is the first time that a company gets to prove what it claimed in the sales process and it is the first time that the user gets to test those claims in a real, live environment.

Future success is defined at implementation. That’s why it is so important to diligently question your next project management vendor about its on-boarding and implementation process.

The goal of this article is to equip you with questions that will help you determine how dedicated the vendor is to your early and long term success and how easy (or hard!) implementation will seem to be.

1 – Do you have an implementation plan? Can you walk me through a standard onboarding?

Straight forward right?

What this question will do is ensure that A) a standard plan is already in place, and B) the company is thinking about your long term success by getting started right away.

Bonus question: Ask if the vendor has any resources to detail the process so you can share it with your boss or team

If your vendor sounds shaky or doesn’t have a straight enough answer for you…abort, abort!

2 – How long does implementation take? When can I expect my team to be fully on board?

This is a hard one because the real answer is “it depends”.

In the moment, “it depends” may not sound sufficient enough but it should be backed up confidently with an explanation of what the standard implementation is (see question #1), typical timeframes, support resources, etc.

If you hear an exact number, you are being misled.

Research shows implementation can take anywhere from less than a week to over three years!

Companies that know how to do implementation right know that it takes time and effort from both sides. Implementation could take a week, or a month or two. It really all depends on your process, your schedule, and your willingness to put in the time and effort to learn and adopt.

Bonus question: How easy will it be to make additional updates to the configuration after the initial set up?

It’s important to know upfront if you’re locked into the configuration you initially choose, or if things can be changed later if/when you realize another arrangement would work better for your team.

3 – What learning and support resources will my team have?

You want to make sure that your team has access to as many support resources as possible when ramping up. Training is vital to employee success and software adoption.

For implementation, that specifically means one-on-one training, group training, on-demand videos, phone support, email or chat support, and user communities if the software is on the more complicated side.

Bonus question: What about ongoing support for new employees and system upgrades?

Vendors might offer upfront support when you first on-board, but what happens down the road when you have new employees to train or need to learn a new feature? Find out whether ongoing training and support are included, offered at an extra cost, or whether you’ll be on your own.

4 – Who will be our point person or trainer?

A positive sign of an implementation process is having a dedicated representative that is your trainer and your “go-to” for any questions. 

The value of developing that relationship is immeasurable.

Bonus question: What are our options to book time with them?

Having a dedicated trainer is great, but if it takes weeks to meet with them then what is the use? You might be told that for technical help you will speak with another team, but that’s ok. The important part is that you are getting help quickly!

5 – What ongoing costs should I expect?

Your initial admin training might be covered at the beginning of your contract, but most companies will either roll your training costs into the monthly fee or cap your dedicated one-on-one time to a certain number of hours. 

After that cap is reached, you may have to purchase an add-on support package to continue the expert support.

The best companies at implementation and continued success offer free training and support to all customers. Read more about project management costs here.

Bonus question(s): Are there any additional charges associated with implementation or training? Are there additional fees for onsite training or consulting time after a certain period?

Onsite training costs surely make sense, but capping hours or extra charges for basic training? Make sure you know upfront what costs you’re committing to. There shouldn’t be any surprises later on when you receive your invoice. 

6 – What do we need to have ready/ do before implementation begins?

To get the most out of implementation and training, it’s helpful to have everything ready for when the vendor’s team starts working. 

If you’re transferring data over from an existing system or integrating other tools, you may need to ensure the vendor has the proper security clearance and access. They may also request access to specific company employees or information, such as a chart of accounts or hierarchy of projects. 

Bonus question: Will my current project data/ history transfer over?

Whether you’re currently using excel or other software, it’s vital that you know what can be imported into the new software and what may need to be maintained in your old system. 

Also, if you plan to run both systems for a period before making a complete switch, is there an easy way to copy over data, or will your team need to update two systems manually? 

7 – Have you implemented this software for a customer in my industry before? 

Plenty of vendors offer project management software that can benefit teams in a wide variety of industries and markets. But, each industry also generally has its own quirks and requirements.

If your vendor of choice has never helped implement the software for a team in your field, they may overlook configuration requirements that are critical for your projects and portfolios. 

Bonus question: Can I talk to a customer who implemented in the last six months?

It’s one thing for a vendor to assure you they’ve done this before. It’s quite another to hear first-hand a glowing review from a recent customer. Of course, if the vendor cannot connect you until later in the buying process or cannot connect you for confidential reasons, then that’s ok. The important part is that they can handle your use case.

8 – What is key to a successful implementation?

Vendors who are committed to your success have a stake in your implementation. They’ve spent the time and done the research to understand what tends to make or break your long-term adoption. 

Your vendor should be able to share with you some of the key factors of a successful implementation. As well as provide advice on what you can do to help increase your odds of achieving your goals. 

Bonus question: How do I measure whether implementation was successful?

The word “successful” can mean different things to different people. Your vendor should be able to help you define what success looks like for your team and assist you in setting up the metrics to track that success. 

The Workzone Implementation Process

Workzone has proven to be 2.7x more effective at helping organizations adopt consistent project management habits.

A Success Plan as Unique as Your Team

  1. Needs Assessment – Uncover any obstacles and lay the foundation for a successful adoption
  2. Success Planning – Building on the Needs Assessment, Workzone will help craft your site setup and onboarding schedule
  3. Setup & Customization – Tune your Workzone site settings for your team so your real life processes match
  4. Comprehensive Training – Ongoing training and support for your whole team is included for the life of your contract
  5. Ongoing Coaching – You will have the chance to meet quarterly or whenever you need to ensure that your team is running smoothly

Implementation questions? Book a meeting today to learn more about Workzone’s implementation process and our project management software.

Steve Pogue is the Marketing Operations Manager at Workzone. He writes about project management tips and the buying process. When not at Workzone, you can find him playing vintage base ball or relaxing with his family at home.