Far from the End
However, Blais says securing user buy-in involves more than just letting users play a part in product selection. To ensure their ongoing commitment, their involvement in planning needs to go much further.
With a product selected, Blais hosted an initial planning meeting to identify the IT staff who would be on the implementation team, the Web development staff who would handle graphic design and navigation, and key users responsible for creating, approving and publishing Web content. She also asked the vendor to identify their key implementation consultants.
The identified staff and implementation consultants joined forces to define the time lines for training, conversion/migration, graphic design submissions, template definitions, navigation, workflow requirements, testing and the go-live date.
Blais made sure all key players committed themselves to the effort involved in making implementation successful and that users had input to all phases of design, navigation and workflow components. "We established a commitment from users on their availability to perform testing and review during the process and adjusted our time lines based on that availability," she says. "We took into consideration the workload of both IT and users during this time frame and reviewed the new time lines with both groups to ensure consensus."
They identified milestones and attached dates to each, and held regular meetings with the implementation team so they could discuss their issues and concerns. Milestone dates were often reviewed to ensure they were met and time lines revised when necessary. "It was a busy process as this was over and above the regular work that we do on a daily basis. But the users were keen, enthusiastic and they wanted it to be successful.
Most importantly, Blais says, without the enthusiastic support of users, the new solution could well have taken as long as the old one to get up and running. Instead, working with consultants, users sat down and charted the workflow for their own development.
"They were able to bring their business processes to the table and to build their required workflow processes. We were able to adapt to new and revised workflow processes driven by user requirements."
Thanks in large part to the software's de-coupled delivery, institute members are now experiencing exceptional performance on Web site response times. As an added bonus, the de-coupled delivery allows the institute to freely work on the database, updating software and performing other database maintenance activities without having to take down the Web site during these processes.
Several departments have responsibility for managing Web content, and are now able ("active assembly" lets users independently make page layout changes on their own content pages) and willing to do so. And with users assuming ownership of content, the Webmaster can now spend time developing and enhancing the CMS system to keep pace with business requirements.
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