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Successful Technology Rollouts: Seven Key Ingredients

By Kevin Kiziah, asd-usa.com

Technology upgrades and new technology installations are a necessary part of business for chain stores, but updating or installing technology at multiple sites can be an overwhelming undertaking. Technology rollouts are especially intimidating for chain stores with hundreds, or even thousands, of locations spread across a wide geographic area.

Whether you are installing new point of sale (POS) systems, voice and data cabling, wireless networks, telephone systems or complete network infrastructure systems, small details can make or break the success of multi-site installations. Keep reading for seven key ingredients that will help your next national technology rollout be a success.

1. Enhanced Scope of Work
A scope of work document serves as the foundation of a multi-site technology rollout. If your scope of work document is incomplete or inaccurate, it can negatively impact individual site locations, as well as the project as a whole. Whether you create your own scope of work or have a vendor develop the scope of work for you, be sure to examine the scope of work to check for any areas of ambiguity. Ambiguity in a scope of work document opens the door for variances between project sites. When reviewing the document, see if every piece of equipment is clearly defined by make and model instead of being described in generic terms. Make sure the scope of work includes a schedule that accounts for holidays and store closings instead of a generic timeline. The scope of work should also contain specific installation procedures that will be carried out identically at each location.

2. Pilot Program  
The most efficient way to ensure a smooth multi-site technology rollout is to conduct a pilot program before launching a full-scale rollout. Implementing a pilot program will also help you identify potential problems early in the process so solutions can be developed prior to the launch of a national rollout. Choose a few key locations that have significant variances that might affect the rollout to serve as test sites. Significant variances might include amount of customer traffic, size, location, number of employees, type of building structure, type of existing technology, etc. The more potential problems you can identify during the pilot program, the fewer unexpected delays you will experience during the full-scale rollout.

3. Single Point of Contact  
Multi-site rollouts are complex projects, making clear communication critical. The best way to manage a multi-site rollout is by having a single point of contact from your provider who manages all project sites, as well as a single point of contact from your company who manages the project internally. By having a single point of contact from your company communicate with a single point of contact from the provider, communication becomes more effective and efficient. Scheduling meetings and phone calls also becomes more efficient since you do not have to plan around multiple people’s schedules.

4. Schedule Coordination
When developing a schedule for a multi-site rollout, be sure to consider the numerous external factors that might impact the project timeline. One way to identify possible schedule conflicts is to bring all external vendors and contractors together for an initial planning meeting. During the meeting, all parties will be able to coordinate the order of activities to ensure that each vendor has ample time to complete their assigned tasks, as well as address any potential schedule conflicts. By bringing all outside teams together, you will be able to build a realistic schedule that is based on actual requirements instead of unsubstantiated projections.

5. Decommissioning/Commissioning
The focus of a multi-site rollout is the installation of new technology. However, for existing stores, before new technology can be installed, old technology often has to be removed. The process of removing old technology is called decommissioning. This is an important part of the process, but it often doesn’t show up on the radar during the installation of new technology. It is unthinkable to have untrained technicians install new technology, but it is not unusual for untrained individuals to be asked to decommission old technology before new technology is installed. This type of unplanned, improper decommissioning can result in damages that may affect the new system. Be sure any decommissioning work is included in the scope of work document and performed by trained technicians.

6. Consistency
Since chain stores are connected to a central headquarters and often share resources, it is important that the technology at each site is consistent. Consistent technology is important not only for maintenance, but also for troubleshooting procedures. Even a small variance in the type of equipment installed or the manner in which it is installed can create headaches when a helpdesk technician is using guides that don’t line up with what an onsite technician or employee is seeing.

7. Site Closeout   
A site’s closeout is just as important as the beginning of an installation. By insisting upon a site closeout process, potential problems can be uncovered while technicians are still onsite instead of disrupting business operations down the road. A site closeout process should include some form of evidence that the technology was installed properly and has been tested. This may include submission of photographs of the finished project, sign off sheets and or completed checklists.

Kevin Kiziah is president of Automated Systems Design (ASD), which provides manufacturing, management and maintenance of nationwide custom turnkey Information Transport Systems. For details, visit asd-usa.com or email Sales@asd-usa.com.


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