Ten Tips for a Smooth System Cutover
Any public safety agency that has replaced its core application software will attest to the careful planning and effort required to implement a new solution. The weeks leading up to cutover can be hectic, as agencies work with their vendor to refine system configurations, complete testing, train users, and make last minute bug fixes. But, what happens when it is finally time to flip the switch and go live? The following ten tips are distilled from our experience working with public safety agencies across the country. Click here for the full article: Ten Tips for a Smooth System Cutover.
1. Establish a Go Live Headquarters and Help Hotline. Dedicating a room with multiple, fully-functioning workstations and telephones provides an environment for trainers, project managers, and others to convene, reconfigure software as needed, and provide in person and phone-based support.
2. Publicize the Go Live Date and Approximate Time. It is important to inform end users and any impacted external agencies about the date and approximate time of Go Live, as well as the Help Hotline phone number and location of Go Live Headquarters.
3. Confirm Go Live Roles and Responsibilities. Having a clear understanding of project team members, roles and responsibilities, including agency and non-agency personnel, provides for a more structured cutover environment. In addition to the agency’s Project Manager, system administrators, and technical support staff, it can be helpful to involve at least one “super user” point of contact for each functional area on a round-the-clock basis during cutover. These individuals will triage problems and be capable of providing on-the-spot training and assistance to end users.
4. Order Food and Nametags. Providing snacks, drinks and lunch for your team will make an inevitably stressful environment a little more comfortable and help maintain a positive atmosphere. In addition, asking your vendor and project consultant to wear nametags will help end users get their attention when issues arise and can help facilitate communication as teams rotate throughout the day.
5. Protect Your Call Takers and Dispatchers. If your implementation includes a Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) replacement, the dispatch center may be the most exciting place to be during cutover as the initial calls are received and units are dispatched. Take caution, however, because allowing excessive personnel on the floor can introduce unwanted noise and heighten an already stressful environment. Go live is not a spectator sport.
6. Record and Track Issues. Task a specific person on your team with documenting all issues that arise. Your vendor’s time is best spent fixing problems and providing on-the-spot training, so a better choice is either an agency representative or a consultant. Consider displaying a running list of issues on a screen in Go Live Headquarters and updating this list in real time so your entire team, vendor and consultants are aware of reported issues. No issue is too small to be tracked.
7. Solicit Feedback from Users Throughout Go Live Week. To ensure that all issues are identified, the person responsible for tracking issues should proactively and persistently reach out to supervisors, super users and at least a sampling of end users to see if they have any issues to report. Unfortunately, your users will not always report issues unless they are specifically asked. In this instance, silence is not golden.
8. Review Open Issues at the End of Every Day. Schedule a wrap-up meeting at the end of every day during Go Live week to review open issues with the vendor and Project Team. Support personnel may be more motivated to resolve issues in a timely manner if they know they have to update the group at the end of the day.
9. Require Confirmation Before Closing Issues. Do not close an issue until the individual or group of individuals who reported it has verified that it has indeed been resolved. This practice requires confirmation that the problem was correctly understood by support personnel and corrected as desired, and keeps users abreast of the issues’ resolution.
10. Plan for Post Go Live Issue Tracking. Conduct a final meeting with your vendor and consultant to develop a plan for how issues should be reported in the coming days and weeks, as well as the best way to contact your vendor for urgent support.
Is your agency getting ready to cutover to a new system? Do you have lessons learned from a recent go live? If so, we would love to hear from you! Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.