With New Technology, Plan for a Smooth Knowledge Transition to IT from the Start

Technology and systems are at the core of your operations, so when a new system has to be implemented, it requires an immense amount of planning to ensure you choose the right technology, the right technology partner, and that the implementation goes smoothly. But too often, the last critical piece is overlooked: How to transition the system knowledge from your partner to your internal IT team.
In fact, the knowledge transition shouldn’t be the last piece at all. It must be an ongoing discussion and action item throughout the project. Can your IT team confidently manage the new system after the go-live? Are your other teams informed about the changes and what to expect?
Let’s take a look at some best practices that can ensure a smooth knowledge transition.
Assess your capabilities
One of the first steps with your technology partner should be a frank assessment of your IT team. Complex implementations are relatively rare and likely not a core role of your team, so how much and what kinds of training will your partner need to provide? What does your team require to support the application for years to come?
Team engagement
When you’re in the trenches of an implementation, it can be difficult to determine whether the knowledge transition is going well. A leading indicator of this is your IT team’s involvement. Your technology partner should be integrated with your team in some respect, whether they are on-site or simply in regular communication.
If your team is feeling disengaged, that’s a problem. Be aware of the situation and work proactively with your partner to address it. Key items like the schedule, costs and issues must all be transparent so that when challenges do arise, your team and partner will have a trusted relationship to address them collaboratively.
Change management
When a project comes to a close, one of the most common issues around knowledge transition is the change management process. Company leadership usually understands what the IT team needs to manage an application, but they often underestimate what’s required to operationalize it and what type of training is necessary for every level of the company. It’s important to identify the likely scenarios that will disrupt your processes and to work with your partner to train your IT team to respond accordingly.
Knowing what to expect
Has your technology partner educated you on the anticipated challenges for the life of application? Can your team master the day-to-day operations immediately, or will extra training be needed? Is the application configured for easy work flow changes?
Problems that arise during an implementation are worsened if there’s an element of surprise. Knowing what to expect – even if it’s bad news – can help your team and partner plan proactively to lessen the burden. By keeping knowledge transition a top priority, you can help ensure that the completion of the project is as well planned as the implementation itself.

Tom Schoen is president of BTM Global, a provider of retail system integration and development services. Through strategy, development, implementation and support, BTM Global approaches each project as a partnership that helps clients become more seamless, efficient and profitable. For more information, visit www.btmglobal.com.

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