Before reading, be sure to take a look at the other blogs in our series on the four stages of a high quality IT plan for your business:
- Discover: 5 Essential Steps to Discover Your Business’s It Direction
- Design: 7 Questions to Ask Before Designing Your Business Network Environment
- Plan: 7 Crucial Components of an Effective IT Project Plan
Implementation is the final stage of a high quality business IT plan. Implementation involves launching and enabling your new solutions, and training end users on the new systems or processes.
Once you have completed the Discovery, Design, and Plan phases, implementation should be a smooth and straightforward process. Nevertheless, there are several critical pieces that absolutely must be on your to-do list for a successful launch of your IT upgrade. Here are the eight must-haves to have in place before implementing a new IT solution.
1. Confirm the results of testing and quality assurance
Always review what happened while you were testing the new system and performing quality assurance. Ensure that any bugs or issues were resolved satisfactorily. Double checking your tests will help you spot any last-minute problems with enough time to get them fixed before launching.
2. Develop and document processes
As with anything else within your organization, process documentation is important. Procedures for using the new technology should be consistent and repeatable, allowing the tech to do its job—make your business operations more efficient.
Most importantly, those processes need to be documented so that you have them on record. Be sure that your process documentation is easily understood by the end-user; this is key to getting users to readily adopt new processes and will help your launch go smoothly.
3. Select the standards, methods and tools for deploying the system
Now is the time to define each piece of the implementation puzzle—specifically, the who, what, where, when, and how of the launch procedure. Coordinate with all of the players, from your own internal IT team to outside agencies or vendors who need to be involved. Getting everyone on the same page early will help you avoid a potential scramble on implementation day.
4. Get approval from stakeholders
You’ve kept your company’s decision-makers informed throughout the project. Now it’s time to give your final update and obtain approval on the project as a whole. Ensure that each stakeholder understands the goals of the project, the work that has been accomplished, and the resultant changes that will take place once implementation is complete.
5. Inform end users of the change
Send out a change notification to end users and anyone who will be affected by the updated technology. Be sure to do this with plenty of time for folks to understand exactly what’s changing, learn about the new system, and ask questions. For some people, change is hard. The best way to make people not want to comply with new processes is to spring it on them at the last minute. Inform end users early and give them a chance to get used to the change.
6. Create training plans
Once end users are aware of the switch, they’ll still need guidance! Create training plans to help coach employees on the new systems and processes. One of the best ways to get buy-in from your team is to help them understand the why. Explain why your company has made this investment, and especially how it will help those individuals within their own workdays.
Beyond introducing employees to the new technology, provide opportunities for different types of learners to get the instruction they need. Provide demos, workshops, product manuals, and any other resource that will help users become comfortable with the new setup. Most importantly, don’t ignore frustration that may arise. Validate feelings, then work together to alleviate their concerns.
7. Line up your support
Review the support you’ll need once the project is implemented, and be sure those support channels are open. Whether it’s a direct help line from a technology vendor or a managed IT partner standing by to resolve any issues, line up the support you’ll need when the new system goes live. Also, determine internal “champions” within your company who can be on-hand to help others if they run into challenges.
8. Plan a debriefing session
Don’t walk away once the project has ended! You’ll need to debrief with the project team and the stakeholders involved. What were the successes and failures of this project? What differences has the project made, whether those differences are in monetary value or operations efficiencies?
Review each of the project areas, including scope, time management, cost, and quality. Did the project go according to plan, or were there changes? What recommendations would you make for a similar project in the future? Monitor the overall project performance after launch, and continue to revisit the progress to gain a complete understanding of how this IT project impacted your business.
Planning an IT project launch for your company? SymQuest can help by providing support and guidance throughout the entre process. Contact us today to get connected with an IT Consultant for strategic technology planning.