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

Are you planning to migrate to a new operating system such as Windows 7, or maybe switch to a later version of the Office suite such as Office 2007 or 2010? Technology is a basic prerequisite for successful migration, while the ability to lead, calm and support users in various ways with clear information before, during and after migration is crucial to people’s perception of migration as successful – or less so. When a decision is made to migrate, the IT department is often given responsibility for projectmanaging the migration.

The IT department also has to make sure that migration takes place cost-effectively and as quickly as possible without disrupting ongoing operations.

A common scenario is when the IT department succeeds relatively well with the technical migration; that is to say, the IT department manages to move users to the new system without losing vital data or causing stoppages in operations. However, a successful technical migration is no guarantee that the migration project will be perceived as successful throughout the company. Often, “soft” values such as the right information, knowledge and mutual understanding are crucial to whether or not the project is perceived as successful.

If you are interested in how to run a “successful” migration project, you should read this white paper: it provides specific recommendations on how best to handle these “soft” values during a migration and probably increase your chances of success with your migration project. You will be surprised at how you can use good planning, well focused and well planned information and the right user support to make sure that your migration project is perceived as a success throughout the organisation.

In this white paper, we will assume that the basic criteria for the migration project have been decided upon; that is, that the general objective, cost budget and schedule have been specified. The objectives for migrations usually vary, but they can roughly be divided into two different types of target or ambition. On the one hand, there is a migration target which focuses on minimising disruption to regular operations and where few or no resources are invested in training users on the new functions; and on the other hand, there is a migration target which aims to enhance knowledge levels and improve existing working methods in conjunction with the migration.

Therefore, how your organisation should work with each item below will vary depending on the type of target you have for the migration and what your ambitions are. We have divided the document up into three sections.

In the first section, Lay the foundation in the migration plan, we discuss what you can bear in mind right from the planning phase for migration in order to achieve successful migration with emphasis on users, and we also provide recommendations.

In the second section, “Sell” the migration, we explain about – among other things – the positive effect of making sure users/the rest of the company are provided with the right information on migration and feel they have a part to play.

In the third section, Provide the right user support, we discuss advantages and disadvantages of various types of user support in the event of a migration, along with how these can be adapted and altered as migration progresses, depending on the ambition level and resources.

A clear plan for migration, with general targets, subtargets and activities, is an absolute must for a successful migration project. When producing a migration plan, it is important to lay down criteria for the “soft” elements of the project right from the planning stage.

Take into account what the company needs

Besides following the guidelines and framework specified for the IT department by decision bodies, or on which it has made its own decisions with regard to migration, one challenge involves covering what the company needs. If the project team succeeds in finding out what the company’s needs are in connection with a migration on the basis of the situation beforehand and a desired future situation, this will have laid a strong foundation for implementation of a migration which is perceived as successful not only by the management, but also by the company and its users.

The needs of the company should be reviewed from two angles; from a technical angle, i.e. the technical criteria that have to be taken into account in migration, and from a skills requirement angle, which includes information, training and support issues. By carrying out an internal survey with different parts of the company, the project team will acquire valuable information to help it meet the company’s needs during migration.

Analyse and plan rollout according to critical factors at the company

Include users in the project at an early stage. Find out about critical periods when and where migration must not be disturbed. This may be dependent on a number of factors such as technical production, holidays and other considerations. Examine various solutions which make things easier for users and minimise the risk of chaos. Every company has its own critical factors. Here, it is not necessary to ask all users, but to ask representatives of various user groups.

Also, support departments often have interesting statistics which indicate how much various systems are actually used and how many problems and user issues they do actually generate. This can provide a good foundation from which to “develop out” a number of weaknesses in systems and routines. Here, the IT department should perform open prioritisation so that users feel they are being heard and understood; this may provide greater scope for action and better understanding if things go wrong – which they almost always do on one level or another.

Analyse and plan the need for skills

It is also important to examine the company’s need for information, training and support. If migration takes place without you offering any form of information point, seminars, training or extended support for users, you may find that people are expecting to learn new things without having either time set aside for this or training at the expense of the company. People’s feelings about this are every bit as important as what they actually need. Simply by offering various options and asking what the company’s views are on its needs in the event of a future migration, you will have laid a decent foundation for good communication and made people feel someone is listening to them. Find out more in the next section, entitled “”Sell” the migration”.

When a company is asked whether its staff want to do training in connection with a future migration, there is often relatively little interest while at the same time the company asks for this if it is not offered. However, there is often always a certain genuine need which may vary within different user groups with different tasks and prior knowledge.

Once the company’s (perceived) needs are identified, it is important to compile and report this in order to show clearly what the actual situation is and in order to create understanding for the coming support activities in the form of training and support. Examine different training and support options in order to find a good combination of various support and training solutions which suit the needs of the company and its users. Find out more about various training and support options in the section entitled “Provide the right user support”.

Appoint an officer to deal with user queries

Ideally, appoint a member of the project team to stand responsible for information and for training and support issues in connection with migration. It is suggested that this person should be someone who already works with these issues within the company, or is setting up close cooperation with such functions.

If you do not have all these support and training functions on your side, there is a risk of people thinking that the project is competing with the ongoing operations. By utilising these existing functions and their knowledge and tools, you will have access to a good platform for training and support issues. Migration requires custom initiatives in relation to standard ongoing operations with no major changes.

Set aside a financial budget for information, support and training

It is worth remembering to set aside funding for information for users, as well as for support and training in connection with migration. It is easy to focus on the concrete issues and things to do with technology, which unfortunately means that many people risk placing too little emphasis on information, support and training for the company and its users at the planning stage.

Summary – Lay the foundation in the migration plan

For a successful migration project, the needs of users should be taken into account right from the migration plan. Interview different parts of the company and plan the rollout according to both the company’s critical factors and its need for skills.

Appoint a person on the project team to stand responsible for ensuring that you cover the need for information, training and support for users during migration. Ideally, this should be someone who works with these issues within the company.

Set aside a financial budget for information, support and training to be able to meet the needs of users.

Per Strand, COO and co-founder, ComAround

Related links:

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

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

The hero is the king; not content

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