Each month one of Hart Square’s expert consultants will share their experience of delivering projects for our clients – what works well, and how to avoid potential pitfalls.

This month’s resident expert is Sadhana Bhatt, Consultant at Hart Square.  Sadhana has been with us for 18 months, delivering major transformation projects for CITMA and TTE to name a few.

In this month’s “ask the expert” article, Sadhana discusses digital transformation projects – what can you do while your technology provider is building your system?

It’s always great when your organisation has decided to invest in new technology, successfully got the business case signed off by the Board, been through a vendor selection and have kicked off a partnership with a new technology provider to transform the organisation.

But what should you be doing once the requirements for the new solution have been agreed and signed off with the technology provider and now, they are in the development stage of your project? This may seem like a “lull” period as suddenly you will no longer hear from the supplier on a day-to-day basis. However, clients ask me as they enter this development phase what should they be doing next and my reply is usually the same. I always recommend the following areas to start focusing on – and take advantage of this thinking time while you have it!

Website: if you are implementing a new website, start thinking about content.

What is coming from the old/current site? What needs rewriting, what is no longer relevant or required etc. So, when the skeleton website is delivered, all the material that needs to be uploaded is at hand. And more importantly, you’ve decided on what’s no longer required!

UAT (User Acceptance Testing): plan and prepare for the testing that needs to be carried out for the UAT stage

  • confirm team members who will be responsible for testing and what will they test
  • start thinking, planning and documenting all the tests that need to be carried out for each area (e.g. membership, events) that needs to be tested

Processes: with a new system you need to think about what the new/amended processes will be. Many manual processes (e.g. updating manual spread sheets) will be eliminated and therefore, you should start to consider

  • what reports will you need?
  • how will certain transactions will be processed going forward?
  • what will be automated etc.?

I have heard many times, senior management stating that once the manual processes have been eliminated, their staff will have time to concentrate on key functions related to business development. To enable this, and to get the best out of your new technology, senior management need to ensure new objectives are implemented and appropriate training and communication is related to the employees.

Data migration: this can be one of the most challenging tasks a client carries out. Clients usually have two options to consider:

  • shall I take all the old data and tidy up on the new system? Or
  • should I tidy up and make sure the new system only has the data that is correct and needed?

In theory, the answer is you can pursue either option; it all depends on how you want to run the migration. However, in my experience, if you are leaving cleaning data until the new system is deployed, time must be allocated to do the tidy up pre-go-live or immediately after. In most cases this does not happen due to changing priorities, mainly related to the taking advantage of the new functionality you now have at your fingertips – all too often, data cleansing gets forgotten. This can then lead to new solution with data issues that may then provide incorrect information, and stop you getting the best out of your investment. My personal preference is the second option – invest the time to clean the data before you migrate this to your new technology.

Planning data cleansing and migration to ensure data is fit for purpose can be a time-consuming task. So, it’s essential to plan and start early in the project ensuring any decisions made are documented, approved and communicated. It is vitally important to work with the technology partner to ensure the data load can be planned and tested.

In summary, my main tips are to use this time to:

  • review your content
  • plan your User Acceptance Testing (UAT)
  • review your processes
  • review your data in advance of moving to your new system

If you would like to discuss this further, please email Sadhana at info@hartsquare.co.uk