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/ Rahul Bhatia

LOOK ABOVE AND BEYOND THE IMPLEMENTATION: THE IMPORTANCE OF HYPERCARE AND ONGOING SUPPORT

IT professionals within the Life Sciences industry traditionally characterize successful engagements as relying on solid planning and a strong implementation.  The completion of the development and its system testing becomes the ‘key-milestone’  and the go-live date is seen as the outcome. With this in mind, a majority of a project's energy, budget and dedication typically goes towards the development and validation of the system or the business process being implemented.

With an ever increasing level of involvement, IT leaders are being exposed to the post go-live phase of the journey. With this exposure and accountability, IT leaders with multiple successful system implementations are now attributing a sizeable portion of their success to what happens after go-live; dedicated follow through.   

Effective organizations are increasingly coming to grips with looking above and beyond just the implementation and more to successful Hypercare and the long term administration of their systems as the key driver in its adaptability, usage, and overall effectiveness.

Successful teams view the Go-Live as Stage 1 in the overall process. Stage 2 becomes ensuring that support and administration functions are ready, willing and able to maximize adoption of the system. Key planning is vital in determining how to effectively support the system, especially during the sensitive and nascent period, known as Hypercare, when questions and confusion could be high, and learning curves for the user base are elevated. Ironically, this is also the area that often fails or is considered as an afterthought. 

Hypercare Focus and Keys to Success: In our experience, Hypercare embodies transition and stabilization. It’s often the first time the broad based user community sees the system or has an opportunity to use and touch it. We recommend ensuring the focus is on system stability, customer support, and data integrity. Both the IT and business departments must ensure that a strong foundation and a clearly defined protocol are in place so questions and concerns can be identified, logged, prioritized, resolved, and finally communicated back to the user community in a timely and effective manner. It requires real coordination between cross functional and technical teams and transition between all stakeholders in both the development and run organizations to make it successful.

Take a Proactive and ‘Get Ready’ Approach: Bring the ‘run organization’ or those that will be supporting the system in earlier in the process. Steady state activities may open the flood gates when it comes to support tickets that your organization did not have the day before. Ensure that the long term administration or managed service organization taking over support has been adequately trained so they can adapt and then support the new processes. Where possible, have them conduct "teach-back" sessions, where they can show the Hypercare team how the system works.

Manage Communication through Knowledge Transfers: Knowledge transfers from the existing development team(s) to the transitioning post implementation team are critical and cannot be underestimated.  Often the initial development team(s) possess all the knowledge and this wealth of information and key insight needs to be disseminated to the rest of the team, on both the IT and Business sides. Communication is the guiding principle during this period. We recommend socializing Hypercare’s availability to users via email communication and kick-off events well before, as well as, throughout the Go-Live to bring awareness and enforce the Hypercare and support concepts. Build good communication management strategies and include deliverables such as User Guides, KT documents, training manuals, work instructions as the foundation of a strong knowledge transition.

Hypercare is a sensitive time, with a lot of moving parts, new coming in and old moving out, a lot of transition; typically we see it is not given the time and respect it deserves and thus can be defined by gaps and holes.

The Role of the Hyper Care Resources: Committing to Hypercare means ensuring its provided with adequate and skilled resources. These resources also add an additional value of providing positive reinforcement during the process. They act as pillars of positivity. Change is never easy and all it takes is a few naysayers to spread the doubt like wildfire, so exuding a bode of confidence during these often emotionally charged periods goes a long way!  As part of your projects, ensure that these Hypercare specialists are available and quick with responses. Response time to issues during this first week is integral to the overall success. If a user cannot resolve an issue, whether it's a true issue or a perceived issue, or have their questions answered in a timely manner, they may make the assumptions that the application or technology is too difficult to use. Equip Hypercare specialists with a list of common first week pain points and most frequently encountered issues to proactively assist users. In TrackWise, we often see the ‘Check your Scope’ as being the #1 issue when users cannot find records or encounter limiting functionality that otherwise should be available. Understanding and disseminating this key message can help drastically reduce frustration and confusion with users.  Also, you may need to remind users to leverage the tools and applications that have been built rather than using old techniques, whether it be paper based spreadsheets or trackers. While they can be difficult at first, reinforce the power the new application brings to the overall process including visibility, metrics, and automated components such as notifications and user dashboards.

Post Hypercare Health Checks: With Hypercare tackled successfully, and a few weeks under your administration belt,  the next step to success is supplementing and forging your support and administration team. Have the teams been assessed on how they are doing? Are the technical and operational support teams adapting to the new environments? Are they themselves adequately trained? Instead of being reactive to all the support tickets and issues that rear their head, is the organization also looking at routine maintenance and improvement opportunities? Our subject matter experts recommend creating a routine maintenance and enhancement roadmap, possibly quarterly. Then socialising this roadmap to the business so that expectations are set around when non-critical enhancements can be expected.

Establish the Right Support Setup: Structure and identify the support levels you’ll need to ensure success within your organization.

  Typically, we see 3 different levels of support during Hypercare that transition into a longer term structure:

  • Self Help - typically provided via an intranet web site -  which is ideal for How to Questions, Process Specific areas, Quick Reference Guides, etc
  • Level 1 Help Desk - Basic troubleshooting and further how-to questions; in some organization this is also considered as Key users
  • Level 2 / 3 Support - Advanced technical support typically owned by system administrators and managed service engagements

If not managed properly, the critical Hypercare and ongoing administration period(s) can dampen a deployment. Take the proper steps outlined above to ensure you are planning ahead and provisioning the appropriate resources to deal with the downpour of requests on the the administration team. This will be critical to ensuring proper utilization of the system and invoking a smooth transition from the implementation teams to the run/support teams. Ensure that your Hypercare and support channels are positioned for success and ready to deliver a positive user and overall experience.