Companies will often spend months or even years planning for system implementations, system upgrades or data migrations yet many overlook the need for a well-drafted and robust implementation plan.
The end goal of a good implementation plan listing tasks, responsibilities and dependencies is to ensure a smooth go-live and transition from one system to the other.
The implementation plan is one of the most critical parts of the project. This should be done ideally prior to the beginning of the testing phase in order to ensure that there is plenty of time to fully review the plan. By not having a plan or taking the time to fully understand all the dependencies organisations can put a successful go-live at risk.
All tasks, however small, that need to be completed to allow a successful go-live, must be included, as well as the owner and the time required to complete.
A project implementation plan may have the following columns:
- Percentage Completed
- Day Started
- Day to Be Complete
- Actual Completion Date
- Task Assignment
- Escalation Point
Dress rehearsals are carried out prior to the go-live date to practice and validate the implementation plan. They are a way of fine-tuning the process and minimising the risks prior to full go-live. A dress rehearsal will involve running both the legacy and new system in parallel to see if the reports tally and the migrated data is well in place.
When performing the rehearsal, try to duplicate conditions as closely as possible. For example, use the same team as the ones who will manage the go-live and if the go-live is going to be on a weekend, hold the rehearsal on a weekend as well. Dress rehearsals are vital to allow everyone involved in the implementation the opportunity to practice and confirm the time required to execute; discover and resolve any issues (technical, operational or logistical) and incorporate into the overall go-live implementation plan; and understand the timings of all data loads.
Implementation planning review meetings
The implementation plan needs to be reviewed by the project team and task owners with meetings being held regularly. Once a week is recommended and this will help to ensure that the risk of missing steps is reduced. Once the plan is reviewed for the first time an estimate of step timings will emerge which will become more precise the more the plan is reviewed.
By the end of this first meeting, all parties will be familiar with the implementation plan and what they need to do to prepare for the tasks outlined within it and each party will be clear about who is playing what role in the process.
Some implementation activities
By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail
As Benjamin Franklin famously summarised, a well organised implementation plan containing a full list of all the tasks that require to be completed prior to go-live will go a long way to ensure a seamless and successful implementation. It ensures issues are minimised and controlled. While executing the implementation plan care must be taken to adhere to the plan and any deviations noticed must be duly communicated to the relevant stakeholders in order to take any corrective steps as required.
Communication is key both to those who have ownership of each of the tasks but also to the project stakeholders. Ultimately the key to a successful go-live will lie in the planning. Even with all successes of development, SIT and UAT, if the implementation is not planned well and the go-live goes wrong, the production environment could potentially become unavailable – partially or fully. This, of course, might result in financial loss, a poor customer experience, regulatory breaches and reputational harm.
Need any help?
Arum has extensive experience managing large-scale IT system implementations, system upgrades and data migrations. If you’d like to find out more, please contact us.