Manage Change and Prepare for a System Replacement
System replacement or technology change can be one aspect of an agency’s change management and TAM improvement plan. This How-To Guide presents four steps for preparing for system replacement, specifically incorporating change management techniques to enable a smooth transition. While the steps are specific to the scenario of replacing a key system, the principles from this How-To Guide can be applied more broadly to other scenarios of implementing change with an agency as well.
Assemble the team to lead the agency through the replacement process
System replacement is no small undertaking. It is vitally important to have a designated team of people to oversee the replacement process and ensure everything goes as smoothly as possible. When assembling the team consider including people from each of the major areas of the agency that will be impacted by the new system. While some systems might be isolated to a specific group, many systems are integrated throughout the agency. It is important to have the perspective of people from across the agency to identify the problems and issues that might arise during the replacement process.
Test the system with a small team of staff
Before deploying the system agency-wide, test the system with a small group of staff members. This will help determine what issues might arise in the full deployment of the system. Identifying problems and potential hurdles early in the process will better prepare the team for the full implementation.
In addition, it is important to evaluate how the new system impacts work flow and integrates with other processes at the agency. It is rare that a new system will integrate seamlessly with all existing processes at the agency, so be sure to pay attention to the workflows that may change as a result of the system replacement.
Determine the training needs to enable a smooth transition
Using the lessons learned from the system test with the small group in Step 2, determine a training plan to ensure a smooth transition to the new system. It might be necessary to focus efforts on individuals in the agency who might have a harder time with a technology transition. People with less experience with the technology or who have been around the agency for a long time may be wary of the new system and struggle to adapt.
Consider the following training options:
- Workshops to introduce the new system.
- Documentation and guidebooks on the common features and use cases of the system that people can reference in their day-to-day work. Support documents (such as standard operating procedures and trouble-shooting guides) should be organized by business function to help employees effectively use the system in their daily work.
- A mentorship program that pairs people who are comfortable or familiar with the system with people who may need a bit more time to adjust.
Determine the schedule for deployment
Once the potential hurdles have been identified through a pilot test and a plan for training people on the new system is in place, determine the schedule for system implementation. Be sure to incorporate time for training. Also consider keeping the old system operational for a short period of time following the deployment, rather than shutting the old system down immediately following deployment. This ensures that functions can continue even if there are issues to be resolved with the new system.