The implementation phase involves placing the system into production so users can begin to perform actual business operations with the system. The implementation phase is also referred to as ‘delivery’. The implementation phase is comprised of two activities: training and conversion. Each of these activities include multiple part tasks such as writing detailed user documentation, determining the conversion method, and providing training for system users.

How and what time during the phase these tasks occurs, often depends upon the conversion method selected. For example, for a plunge conversion, all training must take place prior to the conversion. Alternatively, during a parallel conversion, training can be offered at scheduled intervals as the new system is rolled out. Also, the complexity and comprehensive nature of the new system can dictate timing and steps necessary to deliver or implement the system.

The two primary activities of the implementation phase include :

1. System Training
2. Implementation Method

1. System Training

System users require user documentation that details how to use the system. User documentation typically is provided with the new system. The user documentation must be presented in language that is easy to understand and digest with examples and instruction that are simple to follow. Including graphics and sample problems is recommended. It also must be easily accessed and made available (and updated) for as long as the system is live. Delivery methods can include an internal online system such as a private intranet or via hard copy in the form of manuals. Developing and distributing detailed user documentation is a cost related to the overall project and must not be overlooked or excluded from cost estimates. System users find it extremely frustrating to have a new system without documentation.

Methods for Training System Users

By simply training users, organizations can speed implementation, realize cost and productivity benefits early, create positive ‘buzz’, and alleviate potential, nagging conversion problems. Most help desk professionals will agree that nothing is more wasteful than to answer the same question many times a day that could have easily been addressed through routine user training. An organization must provide training for the system users.

The two most popular types of training are self-paced and group training. The most common form of self-paced training is online training. Online training is delivered via the web, a CD-ROM, DVD, or other static media a user can access instantly and as needed. Online training is cost effective because it can be deployed fairly easily and to the entire user community simultaneously and because it is self-directed and does not unnecessarily tap additional needed personnel. System users schedule their own training, on their own computers, at their own pace. They are responsible for learning the system by clarifying questions as they go. Mastery of a new system via self-paced training can be made evident by including tests or quizzes as a condition of training completion.

Group training is just that—learning the new system by training groups of users rather than individuals. Common forms of group training include train-the-trainer, workshop training, and online group training using technology. Train-the-trainer involves developing a few system experts and deploying them throughout the organization to train others. This method often frees up the development team to proceed to the next project without being ‘on call’ to troubleshoot user inquiries. Trainers often can serve as a conduit to the development team providing feedback regarding system training and conversion. Workshop training is set in a classroom environment and led by an instructor. Workshop training is recommended for difficult systems where the system users require one-on-one time with an individual instructor. Online group training is extremely effective in training system users who are geographically dispersed. The training is conducted by a knowledgeable presenter using both phones and computers. Users call into the session, are connected to the presentation, are guided through the training by the presenter, and follow the training on their own computer. Users can either ask questions real-time or send in questions to be addressed at a later time.

2. Implementation Method

An organization must choose the conversion method that most clearly meets its business objectives and can realistically be deployed to ensure a successful system implementation. There are four primary implementation methods an organization can use.

Parallel Conversion - Using both the old and new systems until it is evident that the new system performs correctly.

Phased Conversion - Implementing the new system in phases until it is evident that the new system performs correctly and then implementing the remaining phases of the new system.

Pilot Conversion - Having only a small group of people use the new system until it is evident that th new system performs correctly and then adding the remaining people to the new system.

Plunge Conversion - Discarding the old system completely and immediately using the new system.

For example, if a company is in an industry where governmental compliance is mandatory and a system will be out of compliance by a certain date and that date has arrived, a company can only choose a plunge conversion. Or, let’s say a company has few resources available for system monitoring and user training. It probably is wise for it to choose a phased conversion so it can effectively monitor the system and train users.


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