By: Caleb Wederquist, ECM Lead Analyst for the State of Nebraska
We’ve all been there. We are supporting our technology and we get the news it’s time to upgrade. “GREAT! This software edition is awesome! Everyone is going to love it!” But then you remember the past few upgrades and how things went with everyone involved.
There has to be a smoother route to follow to the new software, right? Of course! There’s always ways to improve our processes and bring our users along for the ride. In short, I call this RISK. No, not the board game. I know we try to avoid risk in technology improvements when we can. In this case, some simple ideas can keep us on course and focused during the upgrade process, while keeping our users from being thrown overboard.
We have a passion for managing IT Systems and Solutions, but we have to remember that we only provide a service to our customers. It is our customers that makes us who we are. Managing a software platform – whether it’s for 100 customers or 50,000 customers – requires their trust in the software because that truly defines who we are. During an upgrade, their insight, concerns and ideas can set the mark to ensure we deliver a new suite of software to meet their ongoing business processes.
It goes deeper than just their insight, concerns, ideas and opinions. Let them take control and see where it leads. You don’t need to get into the details on how this service talks to this service, instead get them involved in testing the software and let them steer. It’s like the sandbox we all used to love to play in and build whatever we want. They get to try all the new software and features and provide feedback about it – both good and bad. That involvement makes them part of the upgrade process and they feel good about being part of the process. They also get to experience the software early on in the process.
An upgrade without a strategic plan in place is like fishing without a rod, things are not going to go well. You can dive in and hope to make a catch, but in the end you’ll just spend a lot of time and effort for nothing. For an upgrade to be successful, your IT team and customers need to be focused. You have to create a well-oiled plan – whether it’s for three months, six months, or a year. Without a strategic plan that includes dates and goals, you can easily get off course and miss the target.
We get so caught up in the events of an upgrade – such as new features and rollout schedules – that sometimes we don’t share that information with our IT teams and customers. The knowledge of the new features, what’s improved to make the customer’s day-to-day job easier, and the rollout schedule is paramount for a successful upgrade. Engage your IT teams and customers with software overviews, rollout schedules, software training and tips/tricks. That will give you the momentum and buy-in that will make every upgrade a total success.
Caleb Wederquist is an ECM Lead Analyst with the State of Nebraska, providing guidance in ECM decisions and oversight of Infrastructure Initiatives and OnBase Upgrades. With 5 years of OnBase experience, including two Enterprise Upgrades and providing support to users and solutions statewide, he is always looking for better ways to improve the ECM solutions that the State provides to all of its users. The State of Nebraska has been using DataBank solutions since October 2010.