30 July, 2015 Stephanie Jones, Senior Professional Services Consultant, MasterControl
In my April 9, 2015 post, I offered eight tips for planning a seamless software go-live. This post picks up where that one left off to answer an important question many clients wrestle with after a successful go-live: What do you do when your software implementation consultant is no longer part of your day to day operations?
Having participated in hundreds of software implementations, as both a user and a consultant, I have found that so much focus is placed on getting through the actual go-live process that customers often forget there’s one final implementation hurdle to clear: incorporating the application into their daily business activities.
|As users begin to learn the software, they will
have lots of questions. Will you be ready?
If you’ve recently completed a successful software go-live, congratulations! You probably think you can relax and go back to your real job. Sorry—but that’s just wishful thinking.
The reality is you’ll soon be on the receiving end of an avalanche of questions as users begin to learn the software and implement new, unfamiliar procedures. This can be daunting for them and you. More than likely, you attended sysadmin education training months ago (and that was drinking from the fire hose in terms of the volume of information you were given), so you’re bound to feel a bit overwhelmed. Here are some suggestions to help you remain focused and calm during those first critical weeks.
Tip #1: Log and Categorize Each Issue
Run every request or problem that comes at you through a triage process, and document and categorize each issue. Keep your categorization system simple: Is it HOT or NOT? If it is HOT, it’s an issue that is stopping business; otherwise, categorize it as a NOT. If you want to get more specific, consider placing each issue into one of the following subcategories:
1. Known resolution
2. User training issue
3. SOP issue
4. Unknown resolution
You know what to do about the first three subcategories, so work those from the HOT category, catching the NOTs as you can.
Tip #2: Schedule a Daily Call
For at least the first two weeks after go-live, I recommend scheduling a daily call with a member of your software vendor’s tech support team and/or your implementation consultant to address the fourth subcategory, i.e., unknown resolution. This will ensure that you do not have to wait in a queue and that tech support will be aware of and knowledgeable about you and your issues in advance. It will also save you a tremendous amount of time and frustration.
Tip #3: Follow Up with Your Consultant On-site or Online
Once things have settled down, and users are becoming comfortable with the new system, schedule a follow-up engagement with your consultant to answer user training questions, re-enforce concepts and help you resolve any open NOT issues. This follow-up session can take place on-site or online for as long as necessary—a full day at the very least.
Tip #4: Help Yourself
At MasterControl, we offer our customers many self-help tools and education and training resources (e.g., tech support FAQs, customer-to-customer forum and training webinars) on our customer website. If your vendor offers them too, don’t forget to take advantage of them during the transition period—and beyond.
These tips should help you manage user questions and requests and still get your day job done. You’ll also be able to keep management informed at a moment’s notice as to how things are going in these last stages of implementation—and look like a hero!
Do you have any post go-live survival tips to share? Please leave them in the comments section below.
Stephanie Jones joined MasterControl in 2011 as a professional services consultant. She has more than three decades of experience working with enterprise systems. Stephanie’s skills include project management, business systems analysis, software implementation, data conversion and computer system validation and compliance. Stephanie’s real-world expertise, particularly in the pharmaceutical and food manufacturing industries, and exceptional problem-solving and interpersonal skills, have helped her complete hundreds of successful implementations for companies both large and small.