In this guest post, Family Action’s director of impact & systems, Norman Blisset, reveals his top tips from managing migration to a hosted solution with Ethical IT & Class Telecoms.
1. Don’t get caught out with your existing Supplier
Carefully check your software license & maintenance agreements with your incumbent supplier so you don’t get caught out by not giving them sufficient notice. Be upfront about your intentions to move to a hosted environment with a new supplier and give them every opportunity to stay professional and engaged with your move.
2. Watch out for auto-renewals and notice periods
Still on the subject of planning your migration, remember to build in any contractual notice periods into your project plans and be fully aware of any contracts that may auto-renew – you may need to cancel them at least 6 months in advance to steer clear of charges.
Don’t forget to speak to your other software application providers – as fundamental changes to operating systems may necessitate upgrading all packages used in the organisation, for example, Sage software within Finance.
3. Plan for the use of Migration Consultants time
Yes, lots of charities hire consultants to help them manage their migration to a hosted environment and often for just one element, for example, Disaster Recovery. If this is the case, you need to be clear on the extent of their role and define early on how this will fit into the overall project. Be clear too on the length of time you need additional support – what happens if your project over-runs and your consultant moves onto their next contract?
4. Charities are unique
Charities sit in the middle between commercial and public sector. With the pressure to maximise donated revenue and demonstrate impact, charities are forging a new pathway of operation and need suppliers who can understand both their way of working and their goals.
Find a supplier out there that understands your requirements, listens and is able to demonstrate experience of working with like-minded organisations.
5. Phased or ‘Big Bang’ Approach?
Which approach would suit your migration? Family Action went for a phased, managed approach and whilst that was less risky, it was more expensive. A big bang approach is rapid, cheaper by definition but riskier as there is no trial period or margin for error. Ensure your supplier has a track record of delivering to both.
6. Impact on staff – change has to be managed
From our experience the impact on staff cannot be underestimated – disruption to organisations can last up to 6 months after implementation, longer if you go for a phased approach. Training was critical for Family Action. Future projects need to be budgeted as part of the overall costs of migration and change has to be discussed, communicated and managed in order to realise the benefits to your charity.
7. Single point of contact
It may sound like we’re stating the obvious but do ensure you have one key point of contact between the different organisations you’re dealing with. It is also worth remembering that the same people talk the same language – so with Family Action, we enabled systems people to talk directly to ‘their’ systems people. It saves time, avoids confusion and keeps all involved on project.
8. Post Project Evaluation
To evaluate the success of the project at Family Action, we are conducting a staff survey to find out what people think about the whole migration plan. Understanding what worked and what can be improved on will help with future on-going developments. Don’t forget to include future requirements within your immediate post project evaluation – once your infrastructure is setup, adding VOIP becomes easier and cost effective.
9. Plan for your future needs
Consider not only what you need today and over the next 12 months but the next 5 years – this allows you to build more closely to your requirements, potentially saving your organisation money in the longer term.
10. Don’t scrimp on your Connectivity Costs
Invest in your Internet lines as these are the ‘life blood’ of your future network. If you don’t have optimal connectivity then your network performance suffers. If you need to reduce costs – the message we have learnt is to look elsewhere within the organisation.
P.S. You’re a charity – remember to ask for your charity discount!
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