The public sector — such as municipalities, education, healthcare — is always trying to make better use of their valuable time. However, managing meetings is an arduous process that is time and energy consuming. As such, many have already implemented agenda or meeting management solutions of one kind or another to achieve their objectives.
Changes are Inevitable
Over the years, we’ve heard various reasons from our customers (who have migrated over from another solution) for why they wanted to move away from their original service provider. The most common reasons range from internal ones like outgrowing their solution, to external ones like their vendor’s roadmap is not aligning with their organization’s evolving needs, or simply, poor customer service.
Whatever reason(s) it may be, change is imminent. And with any change, it needs to be managed properly.
Having had the opportunity to migrate customers from most major agenda and meeting management vendors, we’ve developed a repeatable process supported by a number of automated tools and proprietary techniques that mitigate risk and reduce the transition time. Here we’d like to share some insights into what happens in a standard migration:
1. Do A Pre-Assessment
When selecting the replacement solution, you want to feel comfortable that the organization you are working with is a leader in innovation and has experience migrating from other solutions. This step usually requires a deep and thorough compilation of the features that are currently in use and where there are gaps in the existing solution. Meeting management solution providers will be able to assist in identifying the gaps because they have seen many different systems and are familiar with other popular or up-and-coming ones. This is also a chance for you to see how well you work and communicate with the vendor.
Additionally, the pre-assessment focuses on existing templates, workflows, users and format of data. This information must be saved and transferred to the new software. Understanding of the data that is stored in the existing system, formats of the document and what will need to be migrated over to the new system is a key component.
2. Finalize Change Management Plan
Finalizing the plan has both a technical component and a human element. The technical component includes assigning roles, responsibilities and a detailed timeline for the migration. In concert with the experts, the company creates a step-by-step plan with benchmarks to complete the migration.
The human element involves the communication with the staff. Employees must be alerted to the change through email and verbal communication. Management must be mindful of providing the staff with enough time to understand and absorb the change, that way the adoption rate will be much greater.
3. Customize New System
Don’t underestimate the power of making “tweaks”. They can mean significant business process or workflow improvements. Now may be a good time to evaluate your templates and processes.
Once ready, the customized processes and templates must be applied to the system. This work is best done by the selected vendor’s project team with the technical expertise to alter the program according to the organization’s needs. For example, allowing only certain people to have access to certain templates for confidential meetings.
Also, make the system your own with personalization and branding. It helps staff to buy into the new solution and feel comfortable with it.
4. Migrate Historical Data
The guts of migration occur when the data is finally verified and transferred. Of course, before it is transferred to the new system, all the data must be certified as the correct information and accurate. Organizations sometimes decide to only extract the past few years of documents.
Once those processes are completed, the data can be moved. Transfer will occur either through uploading to the cloud or a direct wire transfer between servers. Depending on the amount of data, this may take hours or at most a few days. Rarely does data transfer take over a week. A validation of the transfer is then recommended, such as randomly spot check several documents to ensure information is displayed as expected.
5. Arrange Training
The last and most crucial step is the training of users, administration and staff. Without this process, the best system may prove worthless as nobody is using it.
The organization may arrange mandatory training sessions on how to use the system. These training sessions can be led by your solution provider to illustrate best practices of using the system and specifically point out the key features to use for your organization.
If group training is difficult to arrange, try assigning a “power user”. They would be the ones closely working with your vendor and the go-to-person for your staff. Having this power user means you have someone physically present to provide on-site help. (Bear in mind though, the power user is someone who frequently uses the system and can answer questions on the most-used tools, but they might not be equipped to make changes to the system – you’ll need to reach out to your vendor for that).
Finally, users should be encouraged to test out the system, even if they make mistakes, and learn through active use. That will increase adoption and speed up the learning curve.
People, Process & Technology
It’s important to remember that change is more than technology and simply remapping existing business processes into the new system; There’s historical data to migrate and resurface, change management and retraining staff and meeting participants. Not to mention the internal communication when an existing process needs to be modified.
We work closely with our partners — several are former clerks and chief administrative officers — who can provide additional change management support to organizations to help smooth the transition to the new system if necessary.
In conclusion, migration is a necessary process to keep moving forward, especially if your current provider is not helping you achieve your goals. Having the right vendor on board will ensure a smooth transition. We’ve helped many customers over the years (with the latest one being City of Grand Forks, migrated from iCompass), and would be happy to help you move forward in an efficient manner as well.
Get in touch with us for a commitment-free migration assessment, free-of-charge, and see how we can help.
By: Tara Astbury, Director of Operations