Supporting Your Solution After the High-Fives
By Evan Stos
Years ago, I had a sprinkler system installed. The lawn irrigation company did a great job with the installation—no complications whatsoever. As they were finishing up, I remember one of them taking me to the new-fangled “control console” they’d mounted in our garage that ran everything. He showed me the basics of how to use it, and I did what most men would do in that situation: nodded at him in “understanding” even though I didn’t fully understand.
The sprinkler guy rattled off his instructions quickly and then handed me the instruction manual. (“If you have any issues, everything you need to know is in here.”) We shook hands and he and his crew left. I distinctly remember standing there as they pulled out of my driveway, looking at the thick instruction manual and saying to myself, “Wow, this has a lot of pages….”
I learned the basics of how to use the control console, and when I say “basics,” I mean how to turn it on and off and *sort of* how to program it to run at certain days/times. The more complex tasks—for example, having specific sprinklers run on certain parts of the yard—eluded me. In these situations, I had to bring the irrigation company back out (which wasn’t cheap) for help and training. I’ll spare you my conspiracy theories about the sprinkler company making the instructions purposefully confusing. Let me just say this: Using that sprinkler system was a very frustrating (and expensive) process at times.
As someone who has implemented GRC software for around a decade, I’ll tell you that a lot of parallels can be drawn to the ongoing support and maintenance of a solution we’ve successfully delivered. The project has concluded, and we’ve exchanged lessons learned and a few high-fives. We’ve also trained the client on what we’ve configured and provided them with end-user and administrator documentation for future reference. But here’s the challenge: Clients don’t always consider two very important questions:
- Who will support and maintain the solution internally?
- Do they have the knowledge to be successful?
Obviously, one option is to continue to engage our professional services team to enhance your solutions. However, we prefer to empower clients to run on their own. We want you to understand the power of the platform so you can evolve your solutions over time as your business evolves (which, of course, it always will).
If I may, I’d like to offer three pieces of advice to any client who engages our professional services team for solution configuration:
Tip #1: Get Training
As I mentioned above, we want clients to become self-sufficient with the solutions we configure. This starts with appointing one or more users as administrators and then equipping them for success with training, either in a classroom setting or online. It’s important that your admins feel comfortable and confident working in the platform and making adjustments as needed.
Tip #2: Ask Questions During the Implementation
When we deliver projects, we have regular checkpoints to show you how the implementation is coming along. We welcome your questions about how and why the solution behaves as it does. For example, if we’re configuring email alerts, we want you to understand the triggers that cause email notifications to fire. If we’re making reports or data visible only to certain users, we want you to understand how access roles and content-level security work. This stuff has become second nature to us and we may forget to explain the nitty-gritty, so please don’t be shy to ask.
Tip #3: Stay Current
Just as your processes evolve, our platform evolves, too. We introduce new features on a regular basis, and those features may very well make your life easier! Keep an eye out for release notes and training opportunities so you can stay up to speed with the latest features.
It all boils down to one simple piece of advice: When implementing new software, it’s vitally important to consider which internal users will be handed the “instruction manual” in addition to what your short-term and long-term support strategy will be.
Oh, and for those wondering, I’ve now mostly mastered the sprinkler control console. I finally followed my own advice, read the instructions, asked some questions and paid attention to the answers. I guess I have hope of being “self-sufficient” after all.