Pre-Xmas Go-Lives – Naughty or Nice?

Posted on December 2016 By Speller International
Pre Xmas Live

​ Bringing any new system online can make any Training Lead or Program Manager a little light-headed.

After all, it’s not just making sure that any technical challenges are adequately anticipated and addressed: it’s ensuring that all staff are adequately trained and prepared for the new workflows and processes that inevitably follow such a shift.

It can be a time-consuming – and stressful – experience at the best of times. But what if your company has scheduled a new system to go live during the silly season? Are there any advantages to such timing, or is it a case of finding coal in your stocking just as everyone is ready to pack up and play?

Santa saves the day

Training Lead, Dana Shand was pragmatic about pre-Xmas go-lives, having overseen more than one. ‘Depending on the project they can be fun’, she said. Dana recalled one memorable go-live in New Mexico that saw teams enjoy a constant stream of treats, as well as a visit from Santa. ‘We still went live on the 22nd of the month, and had a good Christmas. The sense of achievement provided another reason to celebrate!’

Clearly, keeping track of employee morale during such an occasion is of paramount importance, especially when most people are thinking more about their upcoming holidays and the ever-present tensions of Christmas shopping than they are SAP. Managers and trainers also tend to be dealing with leaner teams in a period, compounding the difficulties.

A Change Lead from the Mining Sector we interviewed identified this as a real issue. ‘As most companies wind down over Christmas and people take leave,’ she said, ‘it’s a bit more challenging to ensure that new ways of working are embedded and users are confident with the system’.

It also tends to make things harder post go-live, as it is important to allow sufficient time for people to become competent in the new system, meaning the challenge stretches across and into the return-to-work period once festivities are over!

Stress, pressure, deadlines… Sounds like Xmas

One Program Manager, again working within the Utilities sector, confirmed these issues, and highlighted the major themes of a pre-Christmas go-live: ‘stress, pressure, tight deadlines and a leaner team’. Are there any upsides to such timing? ‘The positive is that Christmas is the reward at the end of it!’ they joked.

With all that being the case, what then is the best time for a new system roll-out? ‘No time!’ said the Program Manager, before getting serious. ‘You need a time when there are no public holidays or important business deadlines, that has a clear calendar to plan effectively with no obstacles’.

The Change Lead agreed, although noted it does depend on the company and the change that is being introduced. ‘I would say the times to avoid generally are End of Financial Year, End of Calendar Year, or any time close to key company activities such as shutdowns or roll-outs of key initiatives.’

For Dana, going live at the start of a new financial year does have its benefits. ‘Christmas is much harder. I find it easier to deal with long hours during winter,’ they said. ‘The desire to get out in the sun in summer is always tempting you.’

Don’t blame the elves…

And what about training a room full of people wearing elf ears to get into the Christmas spirit?? ‘It’s difficult to get people to focus on classroom training at anytime,’ they commented, before venturing that festive costumes are the least of their concerns and that perceptions need to shift when it comes to formal classroom training.

But in all seriousness ‘Adults learn best when they have a practical need to use a new skill’, Dana said. ‘Elf suit or not, a shift to coaching or on-the-job training needs to be given more focus’.

Our advice on a pre-Christmas go-live? Keep your head! And a stash of dark chocolate in the bottom drawer for those moments when it all seems too much!

Have you lived through a Nightmare before Christmas go-live before? Or one that went like a yuletide miracle? Share your story with us, and season’s greetings to you all!