Blog Post

A Step-by-Step Guide to Running a Successful Pilot Program

Posted by Miranda Cheatham

Unposed group of business people in an office brainstorming their pilot program

When you’re considering implementing a new solution or technology for your business, you want to make sure that it will be beneficial before diving in head first. Running a pilot program lets you test things out on a small scale and keeps you from making a large investment before you know if the technology will actually be a viable option for your team or company.

What to Consider When Selecting New Technology

When you start researching potential solutions for your problem, you’ll need to consider the features of each potential technology or product, as well as how it can integrate with your current systems. You don’t want to waste time on a solution that either can’t do what you need it to do, or won’t work with the processes you already have in place.

You’ll also want to see how other companies have been successful, so read through case studies or ask for references.

Starting a Pilot Project

Eager to launch, and ready to learn how to start a pilot program? After you’ve decided on the technology you want to test, you can start organizing your pilot program with these steps:

1. Set Clear Goals

The whole reason you’ve decided to test out new technology, such as mobile forms, is to make some part of business easier or more efficient. When you get started with your pilot, you need to be clear on your goals and objectives for the new technology and what you’re trying to accomplish.

Ask yourself what success will look like with this technology. Is it saving time and money, being able to get a project completed faster, making communication easier? Keep this goal in mind throughout the pilot and make sure you have a way to measure it at the end. Otherwise, how will you know if the new technology should move forward and be fully implemented?

2. Decide on a Length of Time

Once you’ve determined your objectives for the pilot and the technology, you’ll need to decide on the length of time it will need to run. Consider how long you would need to put the new technology through its routine use case, including any set up time. You might run your program for 14 days, 30 days, or maybe longer.

It’s important to use the technology as it will normally be used in a day-to-day setting, but to also allow time to test for additional use cases or try out features that you may not need as frequently. All of this testing will enable you to make a more informed decision.

3. Choose Your Testing Group

When you’re testing out new technology, you want to have a big enough group to get sufficient feedback, but small enough that it’s not overwhelming to set up. One team within an organization or a small pilot project can be a good place to start, hopefully including somewhere between 10-20 people. Whoever is selected for the group also needs to be people who will use the new technology regularly.

The pilot group will be essential if you decide to expand the use of the technology at your organization as they will become a resource and can assist with on boarding for new employees when they start using the technology.

4. Develop a Plan for On Boarding

The on boarding plan that you put together when you begin running your pilot program can be used when the technology is rolled out to the rest of the department or organization, so don’t skip this step.

Provide training and resources throughout the program to help participants get comfortable using it. You want to set them up for success. This will work to your benefit after the pilot as well because you’ll have people that are comfortable with the technology and understand its value. Nothing kills a new technology faster than low user adoption. If you have a successful pilot program, your adoption rates afterward are more likely to be positive.

5. Get Feedback

The pilot really is a chance for trial and error, so find out what worked and what didn’t. Especially if you’re planning to roll out the new technology on a large scale, you need to be able to troubleshoot issues that came up during the pilot program. The feedback from your participants will be important in helping to evaluate if the new technology will move forward, or if you need to find another option.

Give participants the opportunity to share feedback throughout the process, as well as at the end through group discussions, surveys, or self evaluations.

Evaluating this data, along with measuring how well you’ve reached your objectives (such as how much time was saved), will provide the information you need to decide if the technology was a success and should continue to be used.

6. Address Challenges

Once the pilot program has been completed, you’ll need to address challenges and issues before sending the technology out to the masses. Most importantly, make sure that the benefits of the technology will outweigh the costs to implement it. You need to understand the ROI and how quickly you can expect to benefit from the investment.


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