How to Overcome the Top Four Challenges of Customer Implementation Services

by Jim O'Farrell

Ensuring services leadership, technical professionals, and customers are on the same page regarding initial implementation projects is a challenging process regardless of your product, industry, or client base.

First, there is general inefficiency due to traditional methods of tracking customer implementations - usually using Excel worksheets, Microsoft Projects, and a flurry of meetings and emails with no formalized approval processes. Secondly, there is a general lack of program visibility which leads to lower internal accountability, often causing program delays. For your clients, limited visibility impacts the customer experience - frustrating key stakeholders that have advocated for the adoption of your product or services and damaging relationships that will impact the overall lifetime value of a customer.

Collaborative work management can significantly reduce client implementation process inefficiencies while providing increased accountability for both internal stakeholders (your team, peers, and executive members) and - even more importantly - for your customers!

Top 4 Challenges with Implementing New Customers

Let’s start by exploring the top challenges and delving into the root cause that drives inefficiency and general lack of program visibility.

  • Challenge #1 - Scalability: Client implementation teams manage thousands of implementation tasks and hundreds of projects on an annual basis. It is critical to provide your organization the tools to manage these programs at scale without worrying about systemic failures.
  • Challenge #2 - Tracking: Most client implementation processes consist of workflows for project intake and approvals, ongoing task management, manager-approved time and project information updates, and general calendar management. With all these workflows in play, tracking the status of internal and customer-facing communications and quickly identifying and eliminating potential “blockers” is foundational to an effective implementation process.
  • Challenge #3 - Automation: For effective implementation project approval processing, the ability to support automated sign offs for key tasks and teams is important to eliminate stopgaps in workflow. Further, it is critical to provide an escalation process based on customer priority.  
  • Challenge #4 - Reporting: Finally, it’s important to be able to measure your program success while reporting status in real time to your customers. A high-level, executive look at data and status enables leadership to make high quality, better informed decisions based on a quick review of current and pending communications.    

Up to this point, companies have used manual tools and processes like Excel and email to achieve these important functions in client implementation service work. Traditional alternatives require implementing expensive professional services automation systems that are difficult to use, require significant IT support, and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

So, is there a better way to balance users’ need for flexible client implementation software, while supporting management’s need for control, consistency, and real-time visibility?

The Solution: Collaborative Work Management

Today, leading services professionals are leveraging new approaches to work management automation. This new collaborative work management approach balances the need for flexibility and ease of use in service operations with the needed control and standardization required for program visibility.

How does that impact client implementations?

A Director of Services at ADP explains this way: “Moving our implementation services process to Smartsheet has helped us save up to 25% of each week by eliminating the need to manually update our various project scheduling tools. Additionally, our customers now have full, real time visibility into the implementation project status and timelines.”  

Here are the four key requirements surrounding collaborative work management that you should consider to realize similar results:

  1. Process Consistency: Every project must have a consistent process ranging from project intake and approval, ongoing task management, time and project information updates and management review and approval. Consistency is important to client implementation services because it ensures scalability, visibility and transparency while providing the necessary checks and balances for a smooth running program.
  2. Context-Aware Automation: Automating the implementation services process varies from organization to organization, so contextually aware automation is vital to meet the needs of your business. A collaborative work management solution can help streamline these approvals with comprehensive and rich rule-based automation.
  3. Real-Time Visibility: Project reporting and dashboards are vital to understanding where there are blockers at a task level.  Knowing where these blockers exist the instant they occur assures your organization that timely decisions can be made and disruptions to your customer implementation projects will be mitigated.
  4. User Adoption: Empowering your services team with an easy-to-use platform that provides the flexibility to make adjustments to individual implementation plans results in higher user adoption, better program execution, and faster time to value for your investment.

Bottom line: collaborative work management for customer implementation services delivers business value by mitigating risks associated with manual processes while ensuring corporate program compliance.  

The Results?

  • Better informed service teams
  • Enhanced customer experience
  • Auditable system of customer implementation service projects
  • Faster services revenue recognition

To learn more about client implementation services collaborative work management and related solutions, contact