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Your ITSM Go-Live: How the Best Wedding Advice You Ever Received Will Guarantee a Smooth Implementation

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MarriageA few weeks ago, my colleague Jarod Greene authored a blog about celebrating the Go-Live of your IT service management (ITSM) tool. The blog called into question whether or not your Go-Live is a celebratory event. I have mixed feelings about this. In my role as a Professional Services Leader at Cherwell Software, I absolutely believe customers should celebrate their achievements. This represents an exciting time in their ITSM journeys, and it we are happy and proud to celebrate with them. However, Jarod’s point that this is the first of (hopefully) many celebrations is an important distinction. The focus on today’s Go-Live is great, but this really is just the beginning of something special.

To better articulate my thoughts, let’s use the analogy of a wedding.

The wedding is a fun day. It warrants a celebration. It represents months, sometimes years of planning. Everyone is having a good time, most notably the bride and groom. But there is a lot going on behind the scenes. There is a coordinator making sure everyone is where they are supposed to be at the right times. There’s staff making sure all the guests are enjoying themselves and the food tastes great. A lot of behind-the-scenes work has gone in to making sure everything goes smoothly, and the less your guests see of the actual “elbow grease,” the better.

While everyone is there to recognize and celebrate the union, it’s clear that the work needed to make it a lasting, thriving relationship, has already begun. And that’s the work I want to talk about today.

As you prepare for your ITSM tool implementation, I’d like you to consider four additional milestones that help ensure the project is well understood, well received, and poised to deliver value to the business as promised.

Tweet this: How Good Wedding Advice Relates to Your ITSM Go-Live and Smooth Implementation 


She said “yes” and it’s time to get the wedding planned. This is where realistic goals and expectations are set. Many couples get off on the wrong foot after engagement when goals and expectations aren’t aligned. If she wants open bar for 700 guests, there might need to be some trade-offs on flower arrangements and where exactly the wedding is held. This might sound like a slippery slope, but can be managed effectively.

You may be aware of Gartner’s Hype Cycle, which represents the life cycle of a technology from introduction to value achieved. Generally speaking, the more expensive the investment, the more time and resources are required to deliver. From the trigger, expectations skyrocket, and when realities or challenges arise with respect to meeting those expectations, we arrive at the “trough of disillusionment.” For some, this could mean never climbing out and cancelling the project all together. However when compromises and concessions are realized, we arrive at the plateau of productivity, which doesn’t provide everything we think we wanted for the wedding, but allows us to arrive at a place where we can be productive and happy.


Many couples will participate in pre-martial counseling. This is where the couple understands how the will perform in different aspects of the relationship. This stress testing can expose disconnects or fissures within the relationship, which allows for mitigation strategies and personalized marital guidance to be developed before the actual vows are taken.  

From the perspective of your Go-Live preparation, some shops use agile approaches, where users are an integrated part of the process. Other shops use the traditional waterfall model. Regardless of your preference, user testing is arguably the most critical pre-go-live activity in the project.  I’ve seen projects where every requirement that was captured was built.  And then during user testing both defects and key functional concerns were identified.  So be sure to allow a good sampling from the user population to participate in user testing.  You will still go live on or around your planned date, but if you properly account for and manage the user testing, you will reduce the risk of not meeting expectations, or worse, calling the whole thing off.


You’ve budgeted for 500 people, and payments to the caterer, venue and limousine services are due. You want to make sure people show up for your big day, so you take steps along the way to remind people that the event is coming, along with details about where to be and when. You generally kick off the process with a “save the date” card prior to the official invite, and might even send guests subsequent communications with information about places to stay, the best modes of transportation, and fun things to do in the area.

From the standpoint of your Go-Live, your users should have no fewer than two communications about the Go-Live. This will help them internalize the change that is coming and mentally prepare for it. They should be informed of the overall goals of the project, as well as the benefits to their areas, the company, and the company’s customers, if appropriate.  User should also be well informed of any process changes required of them. You are likely to run into the “who moved my cheese” scenario among some users, but by over communicating, the majority will be adapt more quickly and easily.

Post Wedding

After the honeymoon, the real work begins. You may be moving in together for the first time, trying to figure out who walks the dog, whether it’s OK to put plastic bottles in the recycling bin, and the “right” way to load the dishwasher. You need to manage your finances together, spend the holidays with the in-laws, and contemplate having children—you are settling into the new realities of the relationship. It will be important to tackle these areas head-on, manage issues as they arise and, most of all, ensure feedback is encouraged and responded to, so that frustration doesn’t build.   

Similarly, after your ITSM Go-Live, the IT team and users alike need to get accustomed to a new paradigm, a new way of doing things. Those around will realize that things are a little different, and prior levels of service may tail off a bit till the dust settles.

When pervasive technology is being rolled out across the company, it’s important to temporarily raise the level of support in the initial stages. This will help facilitate user adoption. It’s also important to develop a clear request and fulfillment process when it comes to enhancement requests, or as defects arise. Make sure users understand how to request enhancements, as well as address and report defects. It may seems obvious, but these steps are frequently overlooked, and users often get frustrated with new applications because of a perceived lack of support.

Furthermore, don’t forget to communicate on a regular basis about what’s working and what’s not. This will promote trust and transparency, and reassure users that your team has their best interests at heart.

And then, lastly, be sure to celebrate the milestones that really matter:

  • Celebrate 40% response time reduction in the first quarter after Go-Live
  • Celebrate the 100th, 200th, etc. self-service request that has been fulfilled
  • Celebrate the first dashboard created by a manager/executive

Because at the end of the day, while the Go-Live is an important and auspicious occasion, it’s the results and business impact delivered via the implementation that really matter.



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