Part 2: Successful migration, with emphasis on users – “Sell” the migration

In a change process – such as migration – you may encounter a degree of opposition from users. In the event of a migration, a common reaction from the company and its users is the view, “Oh no, the IT department are going to swap/upgrade our systems AGAIN!”.

If users oppose the migration project and have negative attitudes towards migration, they will be less tolerant of any problems that may arise within the project. Preparing and involving users in the right way can reduce opposition, which may help you to avoid headaches when the technology fails to work as you migrate the systems. Placing emphasis on users can turn the IT and support departments into the company’s “heroes” instead of them being seen as “creators of problems” that restrict users.

Transparent communication on expectations

To reduce objections within the company in the event of a migration project, the project team should explain the benefits of migration and tell people, step by step, how migration will be taking place.

Explain the benefits of migration

Companies rarely know why migration is taking place and what benefits it will afford; often because there is a lack of information and the members of the migration project have not prioritised the provision of information on this. Explaining the benefits of migration to users helps to create a good foundation for smooth running of the migration project as everyone understands why migration is taking place.

Examples of benefits may include enhancing quality, finding new opportunities, introducing new functionality or reducing costs. It is important to think to remember to emphasise the benefits to users and the company ahead of the benefits to the IT department, which may of course may be every bit as important; but users will not realise this. One example of benefits to users may include greater system accessibility, such as by introducing a webbased version of a program which users can access remotely.

One benefit for the IT department may, for example, be a more centralised and rightsrestricted IT environment. However, this does mean greater restrictions for users. Of course, major benefits and reasons for migration for the IT department should be emphasised if they are linked to the IT environment, as well as financial benefits. Often companies are bound by various licences and/or support agreements which require them to migrate their systems to later versions.

To summarise: here, we recommend that you select the biggest, most obvious benefits and the benefits to users and the company.

Open prioritisation of the progress of migration

To reduce negative responses from the company, it is also important to communicate in advance to end-users how migration will be taking place. Explain about the company’s critical factors and what stages will be implemented, and in which order. Ideally, refer to earlier surveys of the company’s needs.

Create involvement during migration

As mentioned in the first section, it is important to listen to the company’s needs in order to lay a decent foundation for a successful migration project. By also involving users throughout the entire change process, you will make users feel that the migration is being “done for them” and not “done to them”. This can also create a feeling that migration is a collective project which is being managed by the IT department but which affects and can be influenced by the entire company.

They may then begin to understand that this is a complicated project and that not everything will always go according to plan. The easiest way to create participation is to use clear, updated information, communication; that is to say, giving people the opportunity to put forward their views and representatives on the project team for migration.

Start migration with a pilot installation

Start migration with a pilot installation involving a small group of users. Besides finding problems that you may have missed or discovering that your calculations are out, this is a good way of making sure that users have additional input when the time comes for the major migration that affects all users. When you implement a pilot rollout, it is important to make it all as authentic as possible in line with the major full rollout to come later.

A lot of people opt only to test a rollout from a technical standpoint in order to see how the hardware and software will work on rollout. Here, our recommendation is to extend yourselves still further. If, for example, you plan to run seminars for users and offer web-based self service, this should also be offered to the pilot group in exactly the same way as in the major rollout to come. Covering all bases and making the pilot as authentic as possible will give you a better foundation and valuable knowledge prior to the major rollout. Once the pilot is complete, it is important to collect the right information on the pilot so as to be able to make the right decisions on any corrections prior to the major rollout.

Include users in the project team

Ideally, include representatives from different arts of your organisation in the project team for migration. In this way, you will create a good foundation from which to identify any views or complaints early on in the project. Here, it is important to attempt to involve the right people who could become good ambassador for the project within their own departments.

Call attention to Power Users and Superusers

Every company has what are known as “Power Users” or “Superusers” who have the ability to use advanced functions in programme which are beyond the capabilities of “ordinary” users. People who are good at using the present environment may feel threatened in the face of the change of systems. Make sure that they are given the same positions in the new environment and become the same good ambassadors that they were for the old system or version. Be aware of their wishes and knowledge. You can show them the test environment, for example, while you are doing your testing. There is a strong link between having a good knowledge of a system and having a positive attitude towards it.

Information location for communication

If there are any delays or technical problems in connection with migration, it is important to clearly inform people and explain why this is, and to open channels of communication so that people can give you their views and ask questions. One specific recommendation is to create a clear location or portal where you collate all information relating to migration. This makes life easier for those of you involved in the project, and for the company and individual users to find correct, updated information by restricting the information to a single location. Here, for example, the IT department can specify the status of the migration and users can give their views and ideas throughout the project.

Organise all views expressed by users

As soon as rollout has begun, you will receive views from users in a variety of ways. Make sure that these are collated in a structured way and dealt with on a rolling basis. Here, you have plenty of opportunity to detect any problems and shortcomings in plenty of time and to respond to views.

Space in the schedule for unforeseen technical problems or user requests

Any experienced project manager will leave space in the schedule for dealing with unforeseen technical problems or late requests from the company and can thereby reduce the risk of creating anxiety within the company and possibly also prevent the company querying migration, the migration plan and the migration project.

 Summary – “Sell” the migration

Migrations often bring about opposition from the company as these changes may disrupt people’s day-to-day work. This will result in the company becoming less tolerant of problems arising within the project, which they often do. To reduce opposition, migration should be “sold” by creating transparent communication on expectations for the project. This is done by explaining the biggest, most obvious benefits in general and the benefits for users in particular. It is also important to report in advance on how each step of migration should take place.

Related links:

Part 1: Successful migration, with emphasis on users – lay the foundation in the migration plan

Part 3: Successful migration, with emphasis on users – provide the right user support

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