Go-Live is the Starting Line: ctcLink Post Go-Live Planning Guide
The Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) ctcLink Project team released a ctcLink 90-Day Post Go-Live Planning Guide to help Deployment Group 5 and 6 (DG5 and DG6) colleges plan for post go-live activities.
The guide was developed in response to DG4 lessons learned and feedback from the May 2021 ctcLink Executive Sponsor and Project Manager Summit and provides college ctcLink leadership teams with information needed to ensure the right college resources are aligned with the necessary activities.
DG2, DG3 and DG4 colleges may also find parts of the guide useful as a reference tool as they continue to stabilize and evolve their local ctcLink structures.
Special appreciation goes out to prior deployment group colleges for making so many of their resources available; especially Jason Hetterle, Wenatchee Valley College ctcLink Project Manager, and Kurt Buttleman, Seattle Colleges ctcLink Executive Sponsor.
Preparing for ctcLink Go-Live
The success of the post deployment activities has everything to do with preparation prior to go-live. This work helps colleges predict what to expect when they go live and will help college pillar leads and ctcLink Project teams determine what is going to work and what will need to be “fixed” at go-live.
Three essential plans should be developed locally prior to go-live: training, support, and security. Previously deployed colleges recommend to pretest the local support and security management plans prior to go-live. (See pages 4-7 of the planning guide.)
The training plan includes schedule of training sessions and workshops immediately after post go-live as well as processes to train new employees and people transitioning to subject matter expert roles.
The SBCTC ctcLink Support team offers the Local Triage and Support Management Planning Guide to guide colleges develop their support plan to manage issues reported by ctcLink users, perform initial local triage prior to requesting SBCTC Customer Support assistance, and handle escalation and communication related to these issues after go-live.
The SBCTC ctcLink Project team developed the Local Security Management Plan Guide to help colleges determine the best approach to managing security (ctcLink roles and access) after go-live with ctcLink and ensure readiness for effective security management.
Planning for college operations and the logistics for ctcLink activities need to happen well before the go-live weekend (See pages 8-10 of the planning guide):
- When is the last day to do each type of transaction?
- What do you need to do to close the books and take down Legacy?
- When do you plan to be able to do each transaction in ctcLink?
- When do the milestone activities (e.g., payroll, account activation, registration, grading, etc.) occur?
- What is the logistical plan for Go-Live weekend, especially Sunday’s validation activities and the final go-live decision?
Communication is key throughout preparing for and stabilizing ctcLink at the college. The planning guide recommends colleges communicate frequently what people need to know when they need to know it using consistent methods.
Consistent and deliberately redundant communication will let people know what to expect and where to get more information. Students and employees both want to know what to expect during and after go-live, including setting realistic expectations that the ctcLink system will not be perfect on the first day.
The planning guide refers readers to the ctcLink Student Communication Resource Guide as well as the DG5 ctcLink Executive Sponsor Resource Guide and DG6 ctcLink Executive Sponsor Resource Guide. These guides offer templates, ideas, and showcase what other colleges have done and communicated.
The first month after go-live is the busiest time for the colleges.
Getting up and running
Subject matter experts, power-users, and those who are directly or peripherally involved in specific business processes are attending the ctcLink Customer Support sessions for two weeks immediately after go-live. These sessions are scheduled to be concurrent with the timing of college’s business process, such as payroll. The sessions walk people through the business process, identify how the system works, and describe the system’s interconnectedness in the context of each business process as well as supporting procedures.
Everyone at the college will be learning new things. They are activating their account, entering time and leave, learning how to do their work differently, registering students for classes, and more. The planning guide identifies and describes what workshops and open labs colleges should schedule to make the change most successful. (See pages 18-21 in the planning guide.)
Patience and grace
Learning is hard work and change is difficult. Critical business processes, like payroll, still need to happen within a specific period of time. Supervisors and executive leadership are encouraged to be attentive to the health and wellbeing of team members and plan for overtime pay. Compassion for employees goes a long way during the first 90-days after go-live with ctcLink.
Colleges should prepare to assess the stabilization of the business processes within ctcLink immediately after go-live. A high-level overview of the assessment results should be shared with the college community as summaries of progress and outstanding issues; it helps with transparency and curtailing the rumor mill. The planning guide showcases assessment and stabilization strategies used by two colleges; see pages 17-18 in the planning guide.
Many of the ctcLink activities carry over into the second and third month. Reinforcing and celebrating what has changed and how the college community rose to the occasion to help students and each other in the transition is key to success.
Months Two and Three
Specific activities after the first month of go-live will continue: hold workshops where needed; communicate updates, progress, and outstanding issues; address the rumors, audit the security roles using the college’s data governance standards; make improvements to the local support and security plans, and check-in with financial aid while they close out the academic year in FAM and start the next year in ctcLink.
Staying connected with others in the state is beneficial to sharing support and problem-solving. The state system of community and technical offers a lot of resources. For ctcLink, many of these resources are in the form of ongoing governance groups, ctcLink eLists, regular ctcLink project manager meetings, and more.
A New Way of Doing Business
The last section of the planning guide points out that the ctcLink project management work will continue in perpetuity. ctcLink will bring lasting change to the way colleges do business and structure themselves across departments. This new work and changes are up to each college to fulfill. A few activities associated with ctcLink long term are listed below:
- Liaison and advocate with the SBCTC
- Attend state meetings
- Escalate issues
- Lead stabilization (updates) and optimization efforts
- Query management
- Coordinate user acceptance testing of future upgrades
- Communicate system changes and downtime
- Lead implementation of enhancements