Implementation is virtually always a disruptive, stressful and uncertain process. The normal operation of the organisation is disrupted and replaced by ambiguity and disorder. To avoid making this worse than it need be, a number of issues must be addressed. This note covers the following:
- Implementation Strategy
- Where to Start
- User Support
1. Implementation strategy
There are essentially four broad strategies commonly used to introduce system changes:- direct changeover, parallel changeover, pilots, and phased introduction.
a). Direct changeover
On day one of implementation the old system ceases and the new one commences - the Big Bang approach.
This approach is in many ways simpler, has the advantage that it is more definite and clear cut, and if it works there will be less disruption. However it can be more risky, and if it doesn't immediately work well can lead to chaos. If this approach is used then it is wise to do as much prior testing as possible.
b). Parallel Changeover
Running of the new and the old in parallel until the new system is operating without problems.
This has the advantage that one can be sure that the new system is working well before the old one is discontinued. However, running two systems usually takes more resources and can lead to confusion. It does ensure continuity of output but often with loss of productivity.
c). Use of pilot projects in part of the organisation
Introduction of the change for a trial period followed by a review.
This has the advantage of testing out the changes in a contained area and has proven often very useful in identifying unexpected problems and side-effects, and testing not just the changes but the way they should be best introduced. Can be used together with all the other approaches. Needs careful choice of pilots.
d). Phased Introduction
These approaches are highly suitable for large scale changes and for changes in geographically dispersed organisations. They both make large changes more manageable. There are two types:,
- Introducing the change into
the whole organisation one bit of change after another.
The changes can be introduced in small steps with training being done in stages. Not all changes can be broken down in this way and even if they can, it can be a lengthy process.
- Introducing the whole change into
parts of the organisation (e.g. the Poll Tax).
Here one can test and trial the ideas in some areas, possibly those most ready for change, and then into other areas - "learning-as-you-go" and building on successes. Thus a fairly safe approach but again it can be quite a lengthy process.
There is sometimes an optimum point in relation to work cycles, workload pressure, annual leave and other environmental factors. Of course having identified such an optimum point, tight project control is then required to ensure that the change is ready to be implemented when planned.
- Question to ask:- Is there a "best time" to introduce these changes in relation to work load, work cycles, and political pressures? What freedoms do we have in this?
This will doubtless be constrained by external pressures but the degree of readiness for change, the scale of the change, and the degree is ready of uncertainty involved should all ideally be taken into account in thinking about how fast to go.
- Question to ask:- Is it best to introduce the changes quickly or gradually? There are always pros and cons to each. What freedoms do we have in this?
4. Where to start.
It is usually desirable to start in those parts of the organisation which are most ready for change, particularly where pilots or phased implementation are to be used.
- Question to ask:- Which parts of the organisation are most ready for change and is it possible to start in one of those?
5. User Support.People going through change may need support in the face of difficulties and uncertainties they encounter, both at the point of implementation and in the teething period that follows. Some combination of the following types of support may be employed: