It has been two years since InReach announced plans to modernize our administrative tools, taking them out of Silverlight and rebuilding them in HTML5. As of May 1st, 2018 the project was completed with the roll out of the Setup and Manage modules. The entire team at InReach, not just the engineers who were hard at work, learned a lot during the process. This month we’ll go over some of those lessons, and how they can apply to your organization when planning a major change.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
This one is simple, but it goes a long way in making sure your learners or in our case, you, our clients, know exactly what’s going on. At the beginning off the conversion project we made a commitment to keep you updated as we progressed, and we hope you feel, as we do, we lived up to that commitment. We were fully aware the changes we were implementing would impact how you use our product and run your continuing education business, so we sent out emails, posted notices within the admin tools and held multiple presentations at our user meetings. Most, if not all of this was planned out well in advance. The lesson: if you’re planning on a major change to how your members or learners engage with your organization, whether it’s on a technological or process front, make sure you have a communication plan in place. It goes a long way in keeping people happy and helps alleviate a sense of being caught off guard by major changes.
It’s Going to Take Longer than You Think! (The Unknown Unknowns)
In the opening paragraph of this post, we alluded to the announcement of the conversion project in 2016. At that time, it was estimated the project would be completed in 2017. Here we are in 2018….and well here we are! It took time to get it right, and it look longer than we thought, which is often the case. Plan for this. Always allow yourself more time than you think you’ll need at the start of the project because at some point it’s likely you’ll start encountering formerly Unknown Unknowns that will add time to the project. The concept of Known Knowns (things you know you know), Known Unknowns (things you know you don’t know) and Unknown Unknowns (things you don’t know you don’t know) could be a blog post in and of itself (and it may be one day), but for more information on how these concepts apply to project planning, check this out.
Feedback: Worth its Weight in Gold
Every team at InReach was involved in the conversion project from Customer Support to Client Success. We had the opportunity to provide feedback to the Engineering team on changes that needed to be made to the user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) at every step. What was most valuable, though, was the feedback we received from you, our clients. As much as we think we know how you use our product, getting direct feedback from you led us to consider use cases we had not thought of ourselves. If your project allows, including a Beta test (a rollout to a select group before the wide release) will allow you to get the feedback you need to ensure you’re launching a product or service to your learners that will fit their needs and meet their expectations. They’re going to be the people using it, listen to them!
So while the project may be complete, we’re not done yet! This year we’ll be adding some exciting enhancements to our admin tools and catalog. Thank you for your patience during this long process; we hope you’ll take some of our lessons learned, and apply them to your own projects.
Nathan Vaut, Manager of Client Success