System implementations and digital transformations often evolve independently of the organization’s preparedness to embrace change. Companies frequently push to meet scheduled milestones for User Acceptance Testing (UAT) and system deployment, regardless of their readiness to navigate these transitions. The fundamental question is this: How can your organization objectively assess its readiness for change?
Based on our experience, change management goes beyond training and communications. Organizations must proactively establish criteria across seven checkpoints. You must satisfy these checkpoints before initiating the first round of user acceptance testing and ultimately proceeding to deploy your solution in a live production environment. These checkpoints serve as gateways to your User Acceptance Testing (UAT) or Go-Live Deployment phase.
Clear iQ highly recommends planning for at least two rounds of UAT, with a gap between the cycles to allow for remediation based on findings.
1–Solution Readiness and Dependencies (UAT)
Solution integrators often emphasize the functionality within the core application being implemented. However, it’s essential to consider that the overall solution may encompass dependencies outside of the core application. For instance, a Clear iQ client recently deployed NetSuite as a core solution. However, it required deploying ADP payroll to all business units first, since the comprehensive solution was dependent on interfaces between ADP and NetSuite.
Solution readiness entails assessing whether the configurations and coding are not only completed and unit-tested within the core application but also across the upstream and downstream systems.
2–Data Readiness (UAT)
It’s crucial to ensure that the strategy for cleaning, mapping and managing data is thoroughly prepared before conducting user acceptance testing. Understanding the scope of both master data and transactional data is essential, as the adage “garbage in, garbage out” holds true. Clear iQ once developed a solution for a client to consolidate multiple vendor master records into a single version to accommodate the new system. This required mapping purchase order transactions, AP invoices, and outstanding checks to the new vendor record.
Data readiness encompasses validating business efforts to ensure accuracy and completeness for each record requiring conversion and verifying if it is feasible to transform transactional data to align with the new system’s requirements.
3–Cutover Readiness (UAT)
This checkpoint requires a detailed cutover checklist to identify each element to be executed during the cutover. It must include who is responsible for each element, and who they must notify once their work is completed. Your cutover checklist should be very granular, covering every minute aspect, and should be carefully executed leading into user acceptance testing.
For instance, in one case, we included a manual step to update a single vendor’s phone number to include the extension because the software’s conversion routine did not support extension uploads. The cutover checklist included the vendor’s name, phone number extension, and the party responsible for the update.
Cutover readiness assesses whether a detailed event sequence required over a brief time period is documented and well understood.
4–Infrastructure Readiness (UAT)
Even with cloud-first solutions, companies must ensure that their infrastructure is adequately prepared to handle anticipated requirements. This may involve tasks such as opening specific ports in firewalls, adding software to single sign-on solutions, authorizing email addresses, establishing secure FTP sites, or configuring virtual private networks to enable access to the new application(s) and systems.
Infrastructure readiness should also encompass mobile device approach, testing, and deployment, particularly for deployments to customers or vendors with varying device types. For employees and contractors, ensuring compliance with the organization’s mobile device management policy is paramount.
Infrastructure readiness evaluates whether each technical component is fully prepared for the new solution.
5–Support Readiness (Go-Live)
Solution integrators typically allocate two to four weeks of availability at the end of an implementation. Companies must have a clear, well-communicated plan to make the most of this time effectively. Moreover, they need to understand how short-term hypercare will transition to a long-term regular support model. Clear iQ has helped clients develop external customer support models that involve visiting locations where the new system and processes are being implemented, ultimately becoming a part of the support structure.
Support readiness includes measuring whether new system users know who to contact, when to contact them, and how to seek immediate help. In addition, it covers how the business and IT teams will prioritize support issues.
6–Commercialization Readiness (Go-Live)
Organizations must ensure that external parties potentially affected by a system change are well-prepared. External parties may include customers, vendors, shipping partners, banks, auditors, and other stakeholders. This preparation must include raising awareness and providing any specific training required to ensure these external parties can navigate the new solutions smoothly. Clear iQ helps clients create various vendor and customer communications to review the system changes, important dates, and how the organization will train and support external parties.
Commercialization readiness focuses on reviewing communications intended for external audiences, including introductory messages, freeze notices, and support information, as well as establishing calendars to ensure timely communication.
7–Stakeholder Readiness (Go-Live)
Stakeholder readiness centers on your organization’s internal resources, including employees and contractors. While solution integrators often adopt a “train the trainer” approach, the entire team receives training during stakeholder readiness, and relevant communication is sent to prepare organization members for their new roles. Executives and managers must be equipped to handle any challenges that may arise during the stabilization period. Clear iQ helps clients manage this is by arranging deployments across all business units and customers to impact selected customer service representatives over time. This enables the organization to concentrate resources on the customer service representatives learning the system first rather than spreading support across all representatives at the same time.
Stakeholder readiness measures the extent to which communications and training have penetrated the organization and empowered its members to effectively adapt to the impending changes.
Clear iQ’s Organizational Readiness Approach
Clear iQ assists organizations every step of the way to determine UAT and system deployment readiness. To do this, we:
- Develop and publish measurement scorecards to track major activities leading into UAT and the Go-Live phase
- Collaborate with business personnel to create a user acceptance testing plan covering cutover and integrated business processes
- Provide an objective analysis of the organization’s readiness for UAT or to Go-Live
- Make the tough decision to delay UAT or Go-Live if readiness milestones are not met
Responsively address any issues uncovered during UAT to ensure that testing team concerns are acknowledged and supported as a part of the overall deployment decision