There are a lot of factors to consider when you are implementing a new system. The most successful systems are those where the client and the software implementer work closely; early in the project they agree on their responsibilities and then put plans in place to ensure that they can fulfil their commitments, which is much more difficult for the client company than for the IT company. The staff already have full time jobs then the IT project comes along and demands more of their time, so it is important to estimate the time requirement for the system implementation and make arrangements to ensure that key staff members have the time needed.
One of the main client responsibilities is testing. A software company can only test to a certain level – it can’t know the client’s business like the client’s team does. The most successful system implementations that I have been involved in have been those where the client has ensured that one or more of their most knowledgeable people have been made available to initially write test cases and then manage the User Testing and User Acceptance Testing. This can involve a significant investment as it may require additional resources to be employed to free up those involved in the system implementation. But like many commitments to quality, an investment up front can save a much greater cost later.
If test cases are produced as soon as the requirements workshops are completed and documented, the process of producing these test cases can highlight any ‘holes’ in the requirements, the proposed design, and accompanying processes and procedures. Key areas that must be covered during user training will also be highlighted.
This discipline of producing test cases early in the life of the project ensures that the logic of the system and the processes and procedures that surround it are thought through long before the system goes live. The go-live will be much smoother as thorough testing will have been completed in advance and there will be no last minute “but I thought it would…” issues. Post implementation support will be a fraction of what is required when test cases and thorough user testing have not been employed. The client company can start reaping the benefits of the new system more quickly, staff morale will not be damaged and client ownership of the system will be a natural outcome.