The post-implementation support phase that concludes all IT projects ensures a smooth, effective transition from the consulting firm overseeing the project to the client’s teams. There are three keys to successful support.
Support is provided for one to three months, depending on the type of project and amount of change caused by the new solution. Support means responding as quickly and satisfactorily as possible to user questions after deployment. Support teams should be made up of employees with the most relevant skillsets, use a disciplined approach with the right tools and, most importantly, communicate effectively.
- Selecting the Most Qualified Staff
Support teams are selected based on their skillsets and the project’s characteristics. Employees with workflow skills, along with technical abilities or specific qualifications pertaining to the new application, will usually be chosen.
Next, each person’s responsibilities and sphere of activity—with the client, consulting firm or liaison team—should be clarified. Support may involve multiple focus areas—such as operations, software and technology.
Power users (subject matter expects—SMEs) help co-workers use the new application. Development and infrastructure teams deal with complex technical issues. The interface team directs the support phase, coordinates follow-up and oversees communication.
- Determine and Categorize Issues
Once the teams have been set up, a quick assessment should be made of types of problems encountered, with tickets sent to the right people. This means defining workflows according to the type of request.
Technical issues, such as the inability to access an application, are resolved the same way as non-technical problems—like difficulty performing a procedure or entering data. The technical support team’s workflow will accordingly be different from that of the other team.
The gravity (operational impact) and priority (urgency) of any anomalies should also be considered. These factors will dictate the type and speed of response, and the recipient. This is why requests must be properly classified, while ensuring that all stakeholders understand and accept the assessment criteria.
- Close Follow-up with All Stakeholders
Categorizing problems also helps with follow-up. Request management application statistics illustrate the progress of corrective measures and are a particularly effective form of communication at information sessions.
Communication can be multifaceted, including general information or targeted email, regular progress reviews with the client, meetings with the business lines and technical crew scrums.
User feedback is also valuable. While users may be reluctant to adopt the new solution, they will be particularly grateful for post-implementation assistance.
The support phase is a crucial part of the project, which often fosters acceptance of change. Backed by strong leadership, quick responses, solid technical intervention and the smooth flow of information, this phase will be successful, independent of project management or delivery.