Managing the Training and Pilot Phases of System Implementation

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The training and pilot phases of a system implementation are critical to the overall success of the project. Managing these phases of the project is best handled by developing written check lists and ensuring that each business process that will be supported by the new system is identified. Once the list of business processes is identified each one can be documented in detail so that training and pilot requirements can be defined. Finally a schedule of the steps that will be taken to complete these phases of the project should be put into writing. All project phases should be a collaborative effort. Involving everyone who is affected by the system implementation in the planning process will result in a better plan and encourage a sense of ownership

Identifying the Affected Business Processes

Developing a list of the business processes that will be supported by the new system is the starting point. Of course the major business process in a Tire or Auto Repair shop is repair order fulfillment. It’s the smaller components of this process that need to be listed in detail. Examples are scheduling an appointment, quote generation, customer transportation, approval, etc. The goal of this exercise is to generate a comprehensive list of all activities that will be affected by the project.

Defining each Business Process

From the list of processes generated above a detailed list of the steps in each process can be generated. As each step in the process is identified the person(s) that performs each step should be included as well. The process definitions should be generated by the people that actually perform the activities if possible. If not they should be reviewed by them. Even in small companies there can be a number of steps and variations required to complete any process. So it’s essential that each process is defined as accurately and in as much detail as possible.

Mapping the System to the Processes

The next step is to use the detailed lists of business process steps to determine how to perform each step with the new system. The methods by which the system will be used to support each step in the process should be documented in detail starting from opening the program through the path followed to get to the spot where the work is done to actually performing the work required. Developing the steps required to use the new system to perform each task will result in a guide that can be used to support the training and pilot phases of the project.

Creating a Schedule

The detailed documentation of the steps required, who performs them and how they are done in the new system can be used to create a training and pilot schedule. Training involves each person individually learning the parts of the system that they will use while running a pilot involves people using the system together. So the schedule should reflect each person learning their part and then using the system together in pilot fashion.

The Training and Pilot Process

Each person should learn how to perform the work required of them in the new system. And as each person is trained on different phases of the system the pilot exercise should be completed as soon after the training as possible. This allows the people to put what they’ve learned to use and understand how it fits into the bigger picture. If any issues are identified during the training or pilot phase they should be resolved and the training and/or pilot steps redefined and repeated until they run smoothly.

Summary

The training and pilot phases of a system implementation are critical and should be managed as such. Written plans are the most effective way to accomplish this and the more attention that is paid to these phases the more smoothly the startup phase of the project will run.

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