Some project managers think that it is the job of the support team to support the software when live and there should not be any phase after project closure. They strongly feels that post production support is not meant for the project team. In reality there is usually more knowledge transfer required than actually done during handshake period. Hence there tends to be an overlap which is sometimes referred to as a warranty or post-implementation operational support period.
The objective of the Post-Implementation Phase is to maintain and enhance the system to meet the ongoing needs of the user community. The Post-Implementation Support Phase begins once the system is in operation, the warranty period has expired, and the production review is complete. Post implementation activity may be the regular warranty support. This includes providing the support necessary to sustain, modify, and improve the operational software of a deployed system to meet user requirements. Shifting of focus from “have we installed the right product” to “have we met the user’s expectation”? Post Implementation is the final stage in an application development project.
A process document describing the post-implementation process guides the activities performed in the post-implementation phase, which generally consists of the warranty period as per the contract signed by the client. It also includes helpdesk support, fixing the bugs, and planning for release of the reworked application and all other activities pertaining to the overall support of the system in action. There is a difference between “cutover” and “handover” -Cutovers take as much time as they take dependent on the project and Handover though follows the 80/20 rule of best practice. Immediately after cutover the existing project team controls 80% of the support and the new operations team controls 20%.
Most well-staffed projects do not have dedicated project resources but are made up of a combination of project team, outsourced consultants and assigned resources from operations. The operations resources who were assigned to the project to help build, test and validate the solution would be first line support to operate it so you have some built in resources who would be 100% dedicated or “handed over” on go-live being backed up by project level internal and external expertise.
The main activities in the implementation stage are planning and defining the process for rollout, to deploy the new application, train users on the new system after the rollout has been implemented, and communicate the details of deployment to relevant people.
List of the challenges faced after project Go-Live:
- Pressures from the business community and executive sponsor to meet the Go-Live date: ROI and realization value place enormous demands on the project manager to deliver a go-live.
- Lesser experience than required in post implementation: Often the project manager focuses more on delivering the project through a successful go-live and spend less time in transitioning the project product to the business.
- Need to understand the business more: Not all project managers understand or visualize how the product of the project will run in a departmental/steady state. It is easy to develop the project or product for business users but running the business is a real challenge. The project managers may not have ability to actually work with the system they implemented, their only focus is to deliver the project.
- Long term benefits over short term gains:At times, the executive sponsor places more pressure by selecting a go-live date for the project manager, resulting in reverse engineering approach opted by the project manager. S/he is forced to plan and work backwards from that date to meet the go-live. One should try to help sponsors to understand that as per project management triangle (triple constraint) all three on Scope, time and budget all are equally important. On time delivery would be of no use if the business requirements are not met.
How to face these challenges
- Right set of resources in the team: The project team needs to include representatives from business user community. This can help the team in 2 ways-reduction in functionality related surprises and reduction in time required in transition.
- Need to think beyond go-live:
- Verifying that the project aligns to company objectives
- Acquiring budget/time approval for post implementation up front
- Acquiring the complete team including cross-functional team members and calculate the period, these resources are required for.
- Identifying the real impacts of deferred functionality
- Development of a proper transition plan
- Understand more about the business:To convince the stakeholders about their business, it is essential for the team to have a sound business knowledge, if not complete, at least pertaining to the area, they are working on. Attend internal trainings conducted by the company related to business.
- Need of training the end user and other key stakeholders:There are times when some functionalities are reported as issues by some users, to minimize this user trainings and user manuals must be provided to the right set of users and all the representatives.
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