Don’t Cut Off Your Customers When You Cut Over

implementation-checklistLet’s face it, implementing an enterprise system like a Billing and OSS application can be daunting.  If you’ve made the decision to convert to a new system there are a few paths you can take and many things to consider to successfully transition while keeping your customers in mind.

Most business don’t have to face a large enterprise level conversion very often, so the staff may not have a process or best practices laid out in advance.

What is Success?

A successful conversion happens when your customers are the least disrupted and don’t even know you have selected a new system or service. There are many measures of success that need to be laid out in advance as part of project plan. Each step in the process should have a go/no go decision gate with the eye on the prize of maintaining customer satisfaction. The churn of customers is expensive and potential to cause havoc for employees is real.

Consider the success of the vendor you have selected by checking references and assess your own capabilities in such endeavors and whether or not a consultant is required. A consultant can help guide you through the process and mitigate as much chaos and risk as possible for you and your customer base.

How do you get there?

The first step in a successful conversion is to create a project plan with your customers in mind. This will take highly skilled and dedicated resources that know your business and requires an executive sponsor to ensure that the project stays on track.

Start with a project scope document and a timeline everyone agrees is reasonable. Risks should be identified in advance and include an assessment of how to mitigate them. Keep your customers in mind by identifying the least disruptive path and least amount of business downtime.

A system migration should never have to happen during business hours. If your new vendor can’t cut you over to a new system during off-hours, you may have selected the wrong vendor. Further, system upgrades and scheduled maintenance should also be conducted off-hours on your schedule, not the vendor’s. All these mission critical services need to happen off-hours to avoid customer issues, questions, and loss of revenue.

The project plan needs to consider many key elements including configuring your business requirements, customizations, database conversion plan, and a system user test plan. Training the right people at the right time will also help ensure a smooth cutover to service your customers without missing a beat.

Once you’ve identified you’re going to cut over and ready for production launch your system users will be ready, the internal teams are prepared, and your customers may never know anything happened.