Pension agencies have faced historically challenging times. Many public funds are still looking for the right solution to meet the needs of their members. The right software system can help public pension agencies meet their goals, but only if the solution implementation succeeds.
There are four essential tips for success if your organization releases an RFP or embarks on an implementation project. Incorporating these methods into your workflows can help ensure your organization selects, implements, and uses the right solution.
Rely on Subject Matter Experts
Public pension funds have a fiduciary duty to complete their due diligence of different vendors during the request for proposal (RFP) process. One of the easiest ways pension agencies can meet this requirement is by turning to the experts on their team.
The mistake many funds make is that they involve their subject matter experts (SMEs) either too little or not at all.
The more that you involve the resources at your disposal, the better your chances of picking the right software for your fund.
There are three crucial ways to involve SMEs during your selection process:
- First, work with them on the functional requirements that pertain to their job duties and allow them to influence your RFP.
- Second, allow your SMEs to perform reviews of different vendor proposals.
- Lastly, invite these experts to the product demonstration of a vendor and empower them to ask questions about the finer points of a solution. Their insight and expertise at this critical point will help build a rapport between you and the vendor and allow for a better evaluation of a provider's solution.
Set Clear Expectations
It's often the simplest (yet effective) practices that get overlooked. After getting through the RFP phase, many funds fail to work with their vendor on clearly aligning expectations during the implementation phase. Whether questions arise over what the end product should look like or how quickly it needs to be implemented, beginning with the end in mind must be a top priority.
Work with your vendor on identifying the most critical elements of your implementation project. From there, identify how these items should be completed, by whom, and when, and map out the process for review, feedback, and design iterations. Try your best to delineate specific processes and requirements. The more precise information and workflows you can provide or create with your vendor, the better your chances are of delivering a successful pension software implementation.
Allow for Change Management
Even the best-laid plans often go awry. Whether it's due to business needs, personnel training, or legal regulations, chances are high that there will be turbulence during your software implementation project. Pension agencies can smooth these disruptions before they occur by planning for them and devising action items.
There are many resources online (or even SMEs within your organization) that outline how to enable change management.
For pension agencies specifically, the most common problem is that change management principles are applied only in a limited scope. The entire agency should be ready for changes, not just the software team. Communicate early and plan workflows collaboratively with any personnel impacted by this software change. Workplace disturbances reduce significantly when impacted stakeholders are involved and incorporated.
Avoid the Little Mistakes
Larger efforts should not be the only thing on your radar during the implementation process – small problems can quickly snowball into critical ones if you aren't careful. Don't let these small mistakes derail your implementation efforts:
- Not being committed to a vendor during the system implementation
- Pre-mature decision-making (especially without SMEs)
- Not being willing to compromise (this can apply to all parties, vendor, client, and consultant)
- Not owning what you can do and failing to outsource what you can't do
- Not implementing RACI (responsible, accountable, consulted, and informed)
- Investing in a software platform that will be outdated in only a few short years
- Not bringing the right staff for application design sessions
Implementing a new software system is a transformational effort impacting many organizational stakeholders. The time, money, and investment alone make it a critical project – not to mention how it also helps you meet members' needs. With these tips in mind, your organization can reach its software goals and better drive its vision into action.