In my career I’ve been part of a variety of service transition projects and while every project is unique there are key aspects that should always be considered.
- Make a plan
A robust transition plan should always be the first step in any project and every plan should always have a timetable.
Alongside elements such as the vision, mission and values, a plan of action, milestones, tools and technologies, a good transition plan has a mitigation strategy in case things go wrong.
And, finally, every plan should be clear and concise.
- Do your due diligence
Often you’ll start a project thinking you have a clear understanding of a business and its situation – the environment is like this and the technology is like this – but the reality can be very different. You should never assume but instead do the due diligence before you get started.
I prefer to complete due diligence by interviewing a selection of people within the organization and asking them if there is anything I don’t, but should, know. For instance, if I turn off this switch, what will happen? It’s important to validate your assumptions and get answers as this could affect your plan.
When I was involved in the transition of four global network operation centres into two sites in the US, we realized during the due diligence stage that all employees didn’t have access to the same technology across each site. Knowing this ahead of any changes, we could put a mitigation strategy in place to avoid any issues once it went live.
- The ROC drill
Completing a Rehearsal of Concept (ROC) drill is important before full scale roll-out. This can be done by simulating a live environment or completing the transition with a sample of users first.
This sample of users could be super users or end-user volunteers but it’s always worth getting your customer base involved too. As well as providing valuable feedback on the transition process, these users, if all goes to plan, will become advocates of the new service. And if the ROC drill does go wrong, they are a voice and a powerful source of front-line insight.
The test user sample size will depend on the organization, the complexity of the change and how many people it will impact. You should also make sure your sample comprises a range of users with different knowledge and experience levels.
For these exercises, I often use scenario-based testing. For instance, for the network convergence project, we presented the scenario and asked each user to do certain tasks. We then evaluated whether they still had the right access and could do what they needed.
Whether it’s a major strategic transition or moving to a new operating system, the purpose of the ROC drill is the same: can you still do what you need to do and is there anything you can’t?
Not understanding a change and the reasons behind it can be incredibly frustrating. That’s why communication during service transition is key.
Those affected need to understand why a service is transitioning, plus when and how it will affect them. Are there any things they’ll need to do differently and will they need to alter their behaviour?
- Lessons learned
After each transition, whether successful or not, it’s important to capture what worked and what didn’t and also make sure it’s documented somewhere for future reference. Being able to create a repeatable process from a successful transition is good, but what you learn from when it goes wrong is even more important.
Often, we get caught up with the transition and don’t educate the workforce after the fact. Capturing lessons learned should be done in a timely manner after the change while it is front of mind.
- Tailor best practice
Whether you’re launching rockets, protecting troops in combat or changing to a new version of Outlook, continuity is important and a lot of the same techniques apply. That said, every scenario is different.
Best practice like ITIL® gives a lot of advice on service transition but there are things you may want to add in or take away so make sure it’s tailored and adapted for the situation.
- Celebrate success
It often gets forgotten but make sure you celebrate successes. Whether it’s a small step or not, it’s a milestone so acknowledge it.
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