The long journey from system evaluation and selection, installation, training and pilot is now complete and you’re ready to go live with your new software system. If the previous phases of the project have been well planned and executed the startup phase will go smoothly. This phase of the project should be planned and managed with the same diligence as the previous phases. The completion of the pilot phase and the beginning of the startup phase should be more than an acknowledgement and nod of agreement. The system support of company business processes should be reviewed, final data conversion and/or input should be planned, problem reporting and support procedures should be established and review points should be defined.
Training and pilot phases can span weeks or months and what’s learned during these phases may not be easily recalled. The previous phases should have resulted in a clear definition of how the new system will support existing processes. Furthermore the support mechanisms should have been tried and proven. So these processes should be reviewed and verified by the people who will use the new system. The understanding of how the system will be used should be confirmed. The review exercise will verify people’s understanding of how the new system will be used, draw everyone’s attention to the system startup and provide a final confirmation of the system’s ability to support existing business processes.
Final Data Conversion and Input
In a system startup, data conversion and possibly final data input may be required. These actions should be assigned and scheduled. Once completed, the results should be confirmed before going live.
Problem Reporting and Support Procedures
When a company goes live on a new system, questions and issues will arise. People must know what to do and who to contact when this occurs. So prior to the cutover, all personnel should be informed of the procedures to be used for support when needed
During the initial startup phase, the use of the new system should be verified and confirmed. There are two objectives to be met. First it should be confirmed that the people using the system are able to perform their jobs as required. Second it should be confirmed that they’re using the system the way it was intended to be used. At this time, procedural changes or additional system requirements may be identified. Also, there is always a chance for miscommunication or misunderstanding in any project and people may have the wrong idea of how to use the new system. Support and problem resolution are not the only management responsibility during the startup phase. It’s necessary to take a proactive approach and monitor the system startup to make sure that the system brings the expected results.