ARE YOU EVER REALLY READY TO
GO LIVE? HOW DO YOU KNOW?
For systems projects, a key question is, are we ready to go live? Are we in agreement to move forward? How do we know we are ready to go live? Are the users ready? Can we be assured that every user of the new system is ready? How do we gauge readiness? All very good and important questions as we all know if you go live with a new system and the user base is not ready, you are asking for trouble. Let’s explore these questions.
Ready is a relative term from a systems perspective. It is difficult to measure readiness; however, you can take an approach that reduces the risk that a set of end users will not know how to successfully utilize the new system to accomplish their objectives.
When measuring readiness, the most important question that needs to be answered is: Can each user, without assistance from “super” users or trainers or coaches, use the newly implemented system to do their daily job? Or if they are a casual user, when they have to use the system, can they perform the necessary functions? If the answer is yes, you are good to go. However, the only way you really know is by testing the end users to perform the functions in the new system.
Too many system implementation project teams rely on developing a training plan for their end users that focuses more on what they think the users need vs. what outcomes the end users are trying to achieve with the new system.
The approach is simple. First, define your end users into logical groups. Second, work with each end user group to define the outcomes they want to achieve. Third, develop a curriculum to achieve those outcomes. Fourth, develop and conduct the training to achieve the outcomes. Five, test each user to ensure they are ready to accomplish their tasks with the new system. If the end user tests effectively, you are good to go. If not, you have to identify the areas of weakness and re-train as necessary. Once this is complete, you are ready to go live.
The Angle? The key to end user readiness for systems implementations is identification of outcomes, development and execution of approaches to achieve the outcomes, and testing and re-training, if necessary, to achieve the outcomes. Testing the end user’s knowledge of the system and processes is the best way for project leadership to understand the readiness.
4 TECHNIQUES TO ENSURE READINESS, A SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY SUCCESS STORY
Syracuse University decided during 2017 to upgrade and launch a new and improved Human Resources and Payroll System. The launch date was originally set for March 2018; however, after careful analysis, executive leadership and the project team decided July was a more appropriate time to launch to ensure the system, processes and end users were ready.
JJH Consulting, the University, Sierra Cedar and Navigator Management Partners worked together to ensure the launch was successful. Through a very systematic approach, the project team prepared the end user community for the system and related business process changes.
How did the team ensure Syracuse was ready?
The team utilized four key techniques, including Lifecycle Testing, Focused Communications, Knowledge Networks and Readiness Scorecards to ensure success. Lifecycle Testing provided the team and key users with a set of system tests, which continually advanced the testing to simulate day-to-day operations after go-live. This allowed the team to incessantly test all aspects of the system. Focused Communications provided the team with an approach to target the constituent audiences in an individual manner that spoke to them and prepared them. Knowledge Networks provided an extended number of end users in the community to become more familiar with the system and processes ahead of their counterparts; thereby, helping the broader end user population to prepare. Readiness Scorecards provided the project team with status information related to the readiness of the user departments; thereby, helping them to understand the gaps and weaknesses in readiness and reacting as necessary.
The Angle? As it is in life, it is the same in systems projects, success is 90% preparation and readiness and 10% execution. At Syracuse University, it was the focus of the project team to ensure readiness from all aspects with the ability to adjust to help when necessary. The results, a well-accepted HR and Payroll system.