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5 Essentials For A Successful Go Live

What do you need to get right for a successful Go Live?

No matter how shiny your new system is, if you don’t nail Go Live, all that hard work could be for nothing. If you can pull off a smooth Go Live, you’ll end up with happy end users and high adoption rates – success! If you don’t, you could face an uphill battle to get your system used as hoped.

So, what do you need to do to make sure Go Live is as smooth and effective as possible?

From my experience of project managing D365 implementations, here are the top things you need to get right:

  1. Involve end-users early in the project
  2. Test, test, test
  3. Change management and training
  4. Detailed Go Live planning
  5. Post Go Live support

 

  1. Involve end-users early in the project

A common complaint from end-users is that they weren’t included in the development of the new system, either through general communications, demo workshops or question & answer sessions – their first exposure was just before Go Live and now they feel disempowered or maybe even resentful. Building end-user buy-in to your new system early on is absolutely crucial, as it helps to foster a feeling of ownership from the users. By building this ownership and ensuring end-users understand the goals of the new system, Go Live will be easier, with users more tolerant of issues if they happen to arise.

 

 

  1. Test, test, test

This may be obvious, but robust testing is fundamental to a smooth Go Live. It is so much easier, and less painful and costly, to fix issues in the test environment than it ever will be in the live environment.

Here are some key points to think about for testing:

  • Prepare a comprehensive testing plan covering every aspect of the business and track against it
  • Define a simple process by which issues can be easily raised and tracked
  • Test all integrations
  • Test all data migrations
  • Make sure to test using roles that will be used post Go Live (don’t test using System Admin if that isn’t your proper role and, if that is the role you normally use then consider using a less powerful one!)
  • Test for both what should work and what shouldn’t, such as entering a phone number in a name field
  • Don’t start making design changes during the testing phase unless absolutely necessary – all “Nice to Haves” should be added to a Backlog to be reviewed after the system has gone live and been bedded in.

Remember, DO NOT Go Live if key issues are outstanding - it will only cause you immense pain.

 

 

  1. Change Management and Training

Informed and educated end-users are happy end-users. People like to be informed in a timely manner of what is changing, why it’s changing and when it’s changing. The fear of the unknown can be a powerful, destructive force.

Effective change management ensures end-users understand what is going on and how it impacts them. It should cover not only system changes but any changes to processes and organisational roles and relationships.

Provide end-users with training appropriate to their role. Training in a new system can be delivered in a number of ways, such as classroom or e-learning; the method chosen will depend on the type and location of end-users. Don’t forget that training should not be treated as a one-time event – people forget what they are taught, they change jobs or are given new roles, so it is essential to make training available on an ongoing basis, either through online training manuals or videos. Consider appointing ‘Heroes’ who will champion the new system and be the first line of support for colleagues’ queries.

 

 

  1. Detailed Go Live Planning

To make sure the Go Live goes as smoothly as possible, prepare a detailed plan of everything that needs to be done, by whom and when. Include checkpoints along the way where everyone involved in the Go Live meets and reviews the progress of the Go Live plan.

Have a final Go / No-Go meeting before cutting over to the new system to check that everything is in place and everyone is happy to proceed. Ensure that everyone involved in the Go / No-Go decision is empowered to call a ‘No-Go’ – there is no point having people complicit in the decision if they can’t change it.

Finally, communicate to the end-users that the system has gone live and what they now need to do and how to get help, if needed.

 

 

  1. Post Go Live Support

Don’t forget about Post Go Live Support! End-users will need a higher than normal level of support in the first couple of weeks after Go Live, so make sure extra resources are available for this purpose. Provide details to end-users of how to raise queries, suggestions, and what to do if something goes badly wrong. If you can have an internal resource dedicated to supporting Go Live who knows the system inside out (those ‘Heroes’ mentioned earlier), it will go a long way towards ensuring a smooth start to the new system.

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