For some shops, the only thing scarier than choosing a new point-of-sale and shop management system is thinking about the process of converting to the new system. The following tips will help you have a smooth transition when the time comes to update your software.
Once you have committed to changing point-of-sale/ shop management systems, the best plan is to have a plan! Most systems, no matter how simple they may seem, can take months to learn, set up, and become comfortable with.
At minimum, you will want 30 days after purchase to set up and learn the new system. Depending on the complexity of your business and the features you are expecting to implement, some shops will require up to six months of set up and training before being ready for transition.
The setup process should be organized in a step-by-step guide outlining each step in sequential order. The key is only working on one setup task at a time. For example, if the next step calls for setting up employees in the software, complete that step before moving on to more complex steps like setting up inventory or canned job packages. It is considered best practices to dedicate at least 30 minutes per day for practice and setup in the new system.
To help manage the setup and transition process, you will want a project manager both at your business as well as at the software company you are working with.
The project manager at your business could be you or a dedicated employee. Sometimes, a young employee is the best staff member to oversee the implementation of a new technology. The project manager at your business will be responsible for gathering information, learning the new software, and knowing the next step in the setup process.
The project manager at the software company you are working with should have an understanding of your business and which features you are planning to implement. They should be able to keep the schedule updated and be able to tell your project manager the next step in the process.
As the project manager at your business works with their counterpart at the software company, your staff should begin training on the new software. This could be a combination of video training, webinar training, and practicing in a generic demo version of the new software.
We recommend waiting until 30 days before “Go Live” to have staff begin training. If they begin training too early they will not remember what they have learned. If they wait too long, they will not have time to learn completely. This initial training should be structured and give them a finite beginning and end.
After the project manager at your business and their counterpart at the software company have completed the setup of your new system, you will want the software company to copy the new system to a “Pre-Live” or “Training” environment. This will allow your staff to practice with the new system in a training environment just as it will look on Day 1 of “Go Live.”
We recommend having your staff practice by taking invoices created in your old system and replicating them in the new system. They should, at minimum, re-create five tickets per day until they have replicated a complete day’s worth of invoices, receipts, and payments.
This will serve two purposes. It will help train your staff, and it will also help your team troubleshoot any setup steps that have been overlooked in the setup process. We recommend starting this process two to three weeks before “Go Live.”
Data Conversion is a critical piece of the transition process. While some shops decide to “start fresh” or not carry data forward, we always recommend converting data from the old system to the new system.
This is important for customer history and warranty claims, and also for keeping your staff out of your old system once you make the transition.
There is an old Roman proverb that says, “If you want to capture the island, you must burn the boats! With no retreat possible, the only way to survive is to win the battle.”
When changing systems, it is imperative to burn the boats by removing your old system from your computer. Assuming your staff has:
1. Replicated a day’s worth of tickets.
2. Learned how to find converted data in the new system.
Removing the old point-of-sale system will not be a problem. With no option to turn back, your staff will learn to make the new system work.