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Preparing for a Faculty Information System Implementation: Key Steps for Success

Implementing a Faculty Information System (FIS) is a significant undertaking that requires careful planning, collaboration, preparation, and vendor coordination. A well-executed implementation process sets the stage for a smooth transition, ensures needs are met, maximizes the benefits of the FIS, and minimizes disruptions to academic operations. This blog post will outline key steps to help you prepare effectively for a successful faculty information system implementation.

Assemble a Cross-Functional Implementation Team

Create a dedicated cross-functional implementation team comprising representatives from various departments and stakeholders. This team should include faculty affairs leadership, administrators and other key individuals who can provide valuable insights and perspectives. The team will play a crucial role in driving the implementation process, coordinating efforts, ensuring the FIS aligns with your needs and working closely with the FIS vendor implementation team. IT should be made aware of the project to provide as-needed technical support. 

Use Your Needs Assessment

You likely performed a comprehensive needs assessment to identify specific requirements and functionalities the FIS must fulfill. You evaluated existing systems and processes, documented workflows, and identified areas for improvement. In this assessment, you engaged faculty and staff to gather their input and ensured their needs were addressed. This information should serve as the blueprint for implementing your FIS and customizing it to fit your institution’s unique requirements. It also can be used as the foundation for testing prior to launch.

Develop an Implementation Plan

A detailed implementation plan outlines the timeline, milestones, and tasks required for a successful deployment. It also defines roles and responsibilities within the implementation team, establishes communication channels, schedules consistent project management meetings, and sets realistic expectations. Details are extremely important as assumptions are the enemy of a good plan and, without details, team members will make assumptions. Don’t forget to consider potential challenges, contingencies, and resource allocations to ensure a smooth and efficient implementation process. Lastly, be sure to engage with your vendor in this process and let their leadership and experience guide the development of this plan. Many vendors provide the implementation project management.

Prepare Data Migration and Cleanup

Before implementing the FIS, ensure your existing faculty data is accurate, up-to-date, and properly organized. Perform a data cleanup process to eliminate duplicate or outdated records, correct errors, and ensure data integrity. Develop a data migration plan to transfer existing data to the new FIS, ensuring a smooth transition and minimal disruption to daily operations. Work here will save you time and cost in your implementation.

Prepare for Data Interfaces

Building interfaces to your key data sources will require collaboration between your IT team and, in many instances, the vendor providing the system. Start the planning and dialogue early to avoid mid-project delays that you will have little control over.

Provide Adequate Training and Support

Invest in the right training programs to familiarize faculty and staff with the new FIS. Some user groups will require several sessions and occasional users may need only one. Develop a support system that includes access to support and ongoing training opportunities to ensure a smooth transition and foster user adoption.  Be present when the FIS goes live so that questions can be quickly answered and any last minute configuration changes can happen immediately. End users can quickly get frustrated with a new system if the organization is not supporting them in its use.

Communicate and Manage Change

Effective communication is crucial throughout the implementation process. Keep faculty, staff, and stakeholders informed about the upcoming changes, benefits, and expected impact on their daily work. Address any concerns or questions proactively and involve faculty and staff in the decision-making process whenever possible. Managing change will help foster a positive attitude towards the FIS implementation and encourage user engagement.

Preparing for a faculty information system implementation requires careful planning, collaboration, and attention to detail. The steps listed above set the stage for a successful implementation. Proper preparation and execution will enable the FIS to become a valuable tool that streamlines administrative processes, enhances collaboration, and empowers your institution to achieve academic excellence.

Tom Simon is the Chief Executive Officer for Mountain Pass Solutions.

A growth-focused startup software executive, Tom has a proven history of success working with industry giants, including Intel, Kellogg’s, Deloitte Consulting, and Valassis. Developing strategy and tactics to strengthen the internal team and its roadmap, Tom has successfully used his leadership to advance core customer relationships and generate sustainable growth for Mountain Pass Solutions