Developing a Change Management Plan – Test Groups & Switch Off Dates

In my previous post I discussed how integrating new technologies within an organization is a thrilling change, but can also present a few challenges. The first step in a change management plan is the testing phase, which will highlight the customization work your enterprise requires to get up and running with new technology.

Once the testing phase is complete and the feedback from the test users has been analyzed and turned into action items, next should come the test groups. These are groups which have been identified as key users of technology who may find immediate benefits from changing over to this new service. It’s important to have a few small groups that work closely together, such as your HR department and your recruitment team. This way the interactions in their current state can be replicated or nearly-seamlessly moved into the new technology. Feedback from these groups is crucial as your IT department will need to see if further refining is needed before releasing the technology company-wide.

As the changeover day approaches, a soft release is much better to manage than a hard, surprise release. This soft release can be achieved primarily through communication with your employees. Once management has agreed, a monthly or weekly update on the steps required to integrate the new technology may be necessary to inform everyone of what is coming down the line. Brown bag lunch events with your IT staff and your workforce are also recommended. These lunches will be forums that start dialogue between employees and IT staff so there will be less confusion about why and what is happening.

The final step to new technology integration is easily the most painful. It can also be the most effective method to finally integrating the technology. I recommend having a “switch off” date for old technologies that are set within a certain time period. If sudden switch-off and replace is not for your organization, it’s recommended you have the old technology switch to “read-only” mode. That way, older content is still accessible, but new content can only be generated in the new technology. Usually 30 to 60 days suffices for this transition. Once this happens, it may be necessary for a redirect link to be instituted with verbiage about the new technology replacing the old technology. This allows users who still haven’t updated their favorite links to receive a final form of notification to update their information. They can then update their links without having to clog your helpdesk staff. That’s it! Your organization should now be integrated with your new technology!

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Bryan Vanetten


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