In part one of our two-part higher education implementation series, we provided tips and best practices for pre-implementation planning. Because of the unique needs that universities and colleges have when it comes to managing travel and expenses—it’s important to work with a solution provider with higher education and implementation experience and expertise.
With a pre-implementation plan in hand, next, we’ll guide you through best practices for implementation go-time and post-implementation success.
5 Tips for Implementation Go-Time
Working sessions should be established to involve the solution provider’s implementation team with your identified project team to answer questions, adjust configurations and assist your team through the validation (testing) phase. Involvement from your IT resources will be critical during this time.
1. Maintain commitment to project. Make sure your assembled project team are aligned and committed to the entire lifecycle of the project. If your project manager, executive sponsor or committee, functional lead (expert across the various schools of the University) and development/technical lead are not established for the entirety of the project, you run the risk of derailing implementation if a key team member is pulled off to work on another project. In addition, it is at this time you’ll actualize the value of having had the technical lead involved from the beginning at pre-implementation. They’ll go into testing and deployment with full understanding of cross-department requirements for the technical side of things.
2. Creation and adherence to a detailed testing plan. Avoid having an ad hoc plan as this will inefficiently flush out issues of configuration as it pertains to the University’s requirements and use-cases. During validation is you’ll run configurations for a majority of the business use-cases, and you’ll want to capture the operations of the University and AP processes so in the event someone uses the system in ways that might not be expected, it’s not going to break the process.
3. Testing and interface development. It’s mission critical to go into the validation phase with requirements firmly established. You want to keep mid-cycle changes to requirements to a minimum and prevent introducing scope creep that would change the nature of testing or integrations. You’ll save time in the end if you make the right requirement decisions in the beginning.
4. Deployment preparation and go live. Once validation is complete, your solution provider’s implementation team should guide you through the training and deployment phase of the project, ultimately resulting in the release to your end users. With the implementation team, you’ll perform production setup, and prepare end user communications.
5. Prepare for transition. Once implementation is complete and you have started to deploy the solution, your administrators should have access to a client support team (dependent on the solution you select) who will address technical issues, training questions and general inquiries. This is the time you’ll see the value of socializing early and often as you officially launch your change management strategy by inviting end users to learning and training sessions on the new solution that you’ve been “teasing” through your socializing efforts. You’ll greatly improve adoption and compliance within your institution.
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2 Tips for Post-Implementation Success
Implementation is complete, and if you’ve had the right implementation team guiding you throughout the project—you should be set up to be as self-sufficient as possible once the warm handoff occurs.
1. Determine your rollout plan. Some Universities will plan for a staggered rollout, while others will choose to jump all in and convert across the campus. There’s pros and cons to either rollout method, so you’ll want to carefully consider what makes the most sense for your specific school.
- Staggering your rollout can create a challenge in having to maintain the old process and the new process simultaneously. However, planning a staged approach by rolling out first to a small pilot group, followed by groupings of departments, could save you pain if something were to go wrong with the new solution by having the old process still operational.
- Launching all at once to all users has the benefit of less administrative work because you’ll only be maintaining the new process; however, you do run the risk of negatively impacting your entire user base if you run into issues after deployment.
2. Heavily invest in training. Your early-and-often socializing will pay off with more engaged end users during training sessions. Schools that are most successful with deploying a new solution across campus are those that have invested heavily in training. Consider providing webinars and documentation to supplement the real-time training sessions that all users can join.
No matter the size of your school, Concur’s Higher Education implementation specialists bring an unmatched level of expertise for deploying to universities and colleges. We’ll effectively prepare you for your implementation cycle, and be your partner throughout the lifecycle of your implementation.
With our intuitive UI and mobile applications, Concur provides faculty and staff an easy way to book travel, and complete and approve expense reports—either while on the road or on campus. You’ll have satisfied end users and you’ll have clear visibility into your spend data.
With Concur, you’ll have the right travel and spend management solution to meet your school’s unique needs, and a best-in-class implementation team that will work closely with you for a smooth deployment. Learn more on how Concur works with higher education institutions like yours!