DG5 Lessons Learned Highlight Continuous Improvement for DG5, Pave the Way for DG6
After each deployment group (DG) goes live in ctcLink, the ctcLink Project Team identifies issues encountered and documents improvement strategies to be implemented for the next deployment group. This process of documentation and continuous improvement is referred to as “ctcLink Lessons Learned.”
Deployment Group 5 (DG5) included eight community and technical college districts — Bellevue College, Bellingham Technical College, Big Bend Community College, Everett Community College, Grays Harbor College, Green River College, Skagit Valley College, and Whatcom Community College — which went live over three weekends in fall quarter 2021.
DG5 Lessons Learned
The DG5 Lessons Learned report findings underscore the fact that the ctcLink implementation project is, first and foremost, a “people project.” The majority of lessons learned in this deployment group relate to preparing the people and the college to transition successfully to use ctcLink for their business processes. Relative to previous deployment groups, very few DG5 lessons learned related to the ctcLink implementation project methodology — demonstrating the methodology’s maturation since DG2.
Six major themes emerged from the DG5 experience that will benefit DG6 colleges, as well as future systemwide IT initiatives:
- Importance of College Leadership Engagement
- Preparing for Go-Live
- Resource Planning
- Transition to Support
The findings are consistent with the Moran Technology Consulting, ctcLink Project Quality Assurance, November 2020 report that summarized the ctcLink Project conversion and deployment methodology itself is working and improving with each deployment.
Moran Technology Consulting points out that one aspect does not change from deployment to deployment: the amount of work required from each individual college for a successful implementation does not lessen.
Check out the complete DG5 Lessons Learned Report at the ctcLink Deployment Group website. The summary is on pp. 6-8 and details on pp. 9-19. The DG5 Lessons Learned Presentation to the ctcLink Steering Committee on Dec. 14, 2021, also provides high-level summary and background.
It is notable that few lessons learned identified by DG4 were also identified by DG5.
Consistent with the ctcLink Project team’s commitment to continuous improvement, the absence of repeating lessons between the two deployments indicate the ctcLink project team effectively implemented continuous improvement strategies identified from DG4 Lessons Learned.
In addition to post go-live lessons learned compilation, real time changes were made as they were identified. These improvements are possible due to close and frequent interaction between the ctcLink Project Team, college PMs, and SMEs.
Highlights of these improvements include:
- New and improved strategies, training, and communication related to Student Financials
- Increased meetings with individual college project managers and teams
- Guiding colleges through preparing for post go-live
- Impact of the additional final data validation practice activities during Cycle 4 data validation, Mock Go-Live Dry-Run
- Significant improvements in learning and applying security roles
- Substantially reduced conversion errors due to increased completion of User Acceptance Testing and Legacy data clean-up
- DG5 colleges requested more “advanced” ctcLink post go-live support sessions
The project management challenge
Higher education in general, and Washington’s community and technical college system specifically, is largely unaccustomed to applying industry-standard project management methodology to conduct large-scale organizational change initiatives. The ctcLink project management model was a primer for many.
DG5 executive sponsors and project managers alike spoke of the effectiveness of employing project management and organizational change management methodology to keep focused on the end-goal and engage in activities that bring them to that goal.
One college reported they used the transition to ctcLink as a catalyst to changing the college culture with transparency, cooperation, and equity as its foundation. This college used project management principles to implement ctcLink all-the-while deliberately changing the way the college leads college-wide initiatives. Within the structure of the ctcLink project plan, the college and project leaders provided people the trust and power to innovate the work they do. They found that this method built the desire and responsibility for employees to make improvements and realize the value of their work.
Lessons Learned Compilation Process
The DG5 lessons learned are presented collectively as a deployment group rather than by individual college or staff member. Data were collected from a variety of sources both during implementation and post go-live, including six focus groups (one with each of the sub-deployment project managers and executive sponsors), ctcLink Project Team focus group, and key informant interviews with ctcLink Project Leads.
- Bellevue College: Maria Rivas, PM; Rodger Harrison, ES
- Bellingham Technical College: Nat Reilly, PM; Chad Stiteler, ES
- Big Bend Community College: Patrick Steele and Angela Garza, PM/OCM; Linda Schoonmaker, ES
- Everett Community College: Sindie Howland, PM; Pat Sisneros, ES
- Grays Harbor College: Jason Lake, PM; Darin Jones, ES
- Green River College: Dave Ortega, PM; Camella Morgan, ES
- Skagit Valley College: Benjamin St. Germain, PM; Carolyn Tucker, ES
- Whatcom Community College: Matt Connelly, PM; Nate Langstraat, ES