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Phase Name Suggestions? - Defining the Implementation Process


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I work for a proptech SAAS company and I am working on a project to improve our implementation process. We would like to take the loose internal phases that we use, and create/define some client facing verbiage around them to use as a tool to help mitigate confusion and keep timelines in tact. 

  1. Implementation - The priorities bucket, the main pain points and the why behind the contract. Once these items are completed, we are ready for go live.
  2. Onboarding - After go live, when we have the software in the hands of end users, we can continue to add items and tweak what we already have in place.
  3. Partnership - The ongoing relationship - software enhancements, new integration opportunities, etc. 

The goal here is to emphasize the fluidity of the software over time and help to keep clients focused on their main priorities during implementation, while also maximizing their ROI. This way, when new ideas come up during implementation we can say “absolutely, lets add that to Phase 2” and the client will have a mutual understanding and agreement with that process.

We want to be more creative in our verbiage than “Phase 1/Phase 2/Phase 3” and less abstract to client minds than “Implementation/Onboarding/Partnership”. Thoughts I have so far:

  • Ground Breaking, Practical Change, Blue Sky Thinking
  • Core Competency, Quick Win, Impact

What would you name these phases? I would love to hear other ideas!

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Best answer by Mark Mitchell 5 July 2023, 21:56

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Welcome to the Onboarding Network @staciadavis! Awesome first question to ask!

I love that you are setting boundaries for when certain things happen, this prevents putting the carriage in front of the horse. One thing to keep in mind is, while being creative is good you need to be sensitive to the fact that your customers may not live and breathe your OX (onboarding experience) so using words that they aren’t familiar with may cause confusion.

 

That being said, I think you could find a happy medium of balancing clear verbiage and enhance understanding with a story behind each phase. For example:

The first phase is called PHASE 1. While the name is “plain yogurt”, it’s clear. However, you help the customer understand the priorities of Phase 1 by saying, “It’s like building a house. The first step is that we build the foundation”

The next phase is PHASE 2. This is where we put up the framing, electrical and plumbing.

Finally the last phase (ongoing) is PHASE 3. Phase 3 is where we maintain and even enhance the existing house (think kitchen remodel).

 

I think there’s potential there since you’re in the property tech business 😉

 

Those are my two cents. Let me loop in the creative geniuses @Mark Mitchell @Davi1700 @harrisclarke ^^^

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Thank you for the feedback @emaynez

I agree that we don’t want to get too “jargon-y” and this needs to be something that creates more clarity, not more confusion. 

I like the concept of telling a story with this process outline, and I like the housing/construction analogy you used. I have even used the phrase “build the foundation of your system” in the past as a way to explain part of the process, so that is certainly something we can expand on. 

I have specifically been asked to name it something other than “Phase 1, Phase 2, Phase 3”, so I’ll still need to think on that part, but I will definitely make sure I’m keeping a story line and clarity in mind! 

 

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Love this topic, @staciadavis!

 

When reviewing the customer experience, I love the idea of creating a “value journey” that keeps your customer’s desired outcomes in the spotlight by naming tasks, milestones, or “phases” after those common values that your product/service provides.

For example, your offering may help to streamline real estate operations. Therefore, your phase or milestone name could be “Streamline Real Estate Operations.” Any tasks you ask them to complete under that milestone should support achieving said value, and continually remind them of why and what they can expect as a result:

  1. Please do (x)
  2. So we can do (y)
  3. And you experience the first stage of (X VALUE)

This also helps to automate reminders (in a sense) of why they purchased your offering in the first place (it’s easy to forget if not continually reminded).

 

Best,

-Mark

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Thank you @Mark Mitchell

I love the concept and reasoning behind creating a “value journey”! That all falls in line with what we are trying to accomplish, especially the constant subtle reminders of their initial Why Value.

Our clients’ priorities can vary as their portfolios vary (commercial, multifamily, student housing, etc.) so it may be tough to create template verbiage that would align for each client, but I will definitely take this idea to my team and see what we can come up with.

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@staciadavis I saw a survey a while ago that 90% of customers wish they had a better experience during onboarding--and I think you are on to something about how to improve it significantly. The Domino’s pizza tracker and Delta’s flight tracker help us know what is happening now and what is happening next….Amazon is even taking a picture of the package on the doorstep to make sure we know it’s there! Talk about ROI in your face…

 

The idea of identifying what needs to happen now in order to “unlock” what happens next is excellent. I’d make sure it is something the “check signer” understands intuitively if they were to get an email stating nothing more than “We are currently beginning ____” 

 

Constantly reminding the team of what is included in the next phase will help too. “We are currently beginning ____ and the next step is _____ in which we will _______.” 

 

Lastly, celebrate what has been accomplished without fear of highlighting what needs attention, so everyone is on the same page. “We just wrapped up ____ in which we were able to _____. Great work! One thing that still needs attention is _____ before we move on to ______ where we will ______.”

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  1. Implementation - The priorities bucket, the main pain points and the why behind the contract. Once these items are completed, we are ready for go live.
  2. Onboarding - After go live, when we have the software in the hands of end users, we can continue to add items and tweak what we already have in place.
  3. Partnership - The ongoing relationship - software enhancements, new integration opportunities, etc. 

So interesting to hear the perspective from other industries. We’re a construction tech firm, and we’ve always called our [getting new clients into the platform] process simply “Implementation”. 

In the last year, we’ve had some clients express concerns that, despite us trying to close out the Implementation phase, they feel they are nowhere near “fully implemented” in their eyes.

“Still have to transition all users from old to new system as projects close out, update internal SOPs for cross-departmental workflows, etc...”

It feels like semantics, but we have to fight that anxiety on a semi-regular basis and clarify that our definition is not the same as theirs.

I’ve been noodling on a similar rebranding, and trying to run that up the flagpole for our leadership. It would require title changes (can’t be an Implementation Specialist if we have no “Implementation” in our process) but might help clarify the journey.  

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@Casey Wilt I think what you’re referencing is very similar to what we’re dealing with. 

I have a history in dog training as well and am the President of a non-profit sport dog club in my spare time. In that world, we often talk about whether or not trainers and handlers are “speaking the same language”. e.g. What one person views as a “sharp dog” may not mean the same thing to someone else. 

I think speaking the same language is a super important thread in this world, too, especially since most of our clients are not from the tech world.

We are “implementing” and “onboarding”, working between the Sales Department, the Implementation Department, and the Account Management Department. If we wait until a company has full adoption on their end to consider our implementation complete, that could severely skew our implementation time data, especially in circumstances where we may have everything built and need to wait for training and go live due to a delay on the client side (vacations, etc.). 

Meanwhile, that entire process for the client is just… implementing new software into their processes. 

There is clearly a need for defined steps which are easily communicated to the client. Partially so that we can keep them focused and keep them on track as I mentioned in my original post, but also to make sure everyone is speaking the same language and has understanding and clarity. 

Great point!

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@Casey Wilt Great insight. I think this happens more often than onboarding professionals would like to believe. It’s clear to me that so much of what makes a customer feel fully onboarded depends on the impact of their change management efforts. A new software is great, but if the team using it does not understand the reason for the change, feel well trained, achieve certain usage goals--if the leadership does not have the data and visibility they need--if ROI targets are not tracked and measured--then a company may end up with a software they’ve had for years that doesn’t feel fully implemented.

This reality is causing us to emphasize, partner on and engage in these change management efforts earlier and earlier in the onboarding process. 

“What does your rollout plan look like?” If you don’t have one, let’s shine a light on it and help you put one together.

“What are your targets for team usage?” If none are in place, we can help establish them with you.

“What data does your leadership need to see?” 

Having the wheels turning on the above and putting a plan in place as part of the onboarding process can help customers distinguish between the semantics of what you called out (i.e. setup/fully implemented etc.).

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If we wait until a company has full adoption on their end to consider our implementation complete, that could severely skew our implementation time data, especially in circumstances where we may have everything built and need to wait for training and go live due to a delay on the client side (vacations, etc.). 

Meanwhile, that entire process for the client is just… implementing new software into their processes. 

@staciadavis Say it a little louder for the people in the back!! LOL This is the tug-of-war of life for us. 

In our larger Services department, we have two groups:

  1. Implementation: From Kickoff to Rollout Training for End Users (Software Setup, Pilot Project, Basic Training for All Users)
  2. Customer Success: From Rollout Training to Infinity (Grow them from wherever they left implementation to mastery level knowledge in the years to come

Naming conventions aside, we’ve started to hammer on the concept that CS is taking the baton, we’re just putting a bow on the initial setup and training, so that resource can move to their next project. I look forward to seeing what others are calling these “steps” in the journey to inform my rebranding.

@harrisclarke Those questions you posed are GOLD. Those apply to us directly, and I think there are probably a few more that we can tune to our specifics. I love the idea of providing solid framework to clients to get through what feels like a grey area for them, but is clear as day for our team. Easy deliverables to install confidence but ultimately doesn't require us to overhaul the way we operate.

One day in this forum and I’m already diggin’ it. Love the conversation!

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