7.10. Implementation and Maintenance
Once a new system is developed or purchased, the organization must determine the best method for implementation. Convincing a group of people to learn and use a new system can be a very difficult process. Asking employees to use new software as well as follow a new business process can have far reaching effects within the organization.
There are several different methodologies an organization can adopt to implement a new system. Four of the most popular are listed below.
- Direct cutover. In the direct cutover implementation methodology, the organization selects a particular date to terminate the use of the old system. On that date users begin using the new system and the old system is unavailable. Direct cutover has the advantage of being very fast and the least expensive implementation method. However, this method has the most risk. If the new system has an operational problem or if the users are not properly prepared, it could prove disastrous for the organization.
- Pilot implementation. In this methodology a subset of the organization known as a pilot group starts using the new system before the rest of the organization. This has a smaller impact on the company and allows the support team to focus on a smaller group of individuals. Also, problems with the new software can be contained within the group and then resolved.
- Parallel operation. Parallel operations allow both the old and new systems to be used simultaneously for a limited period of time. This method is the least risky because the old system is still being used while the new system is essentially being tested. However, this is by far the most expensive methodology since work is duplicated and support is needed for both systems in full.
- Phased implementation. Phased implementation provides for different functions of the new application to be gradually implemented with the corresponding functions being turned off in the old system. This approach is more conservative as it allows an organization to slowly move from one system to another.
Your choice of an implementation methodology depends on the complexity of both the old and new systems. It also depends on the degree of risk you are willing to take.
As new systems are brought online and old systems are phased out, it becomes important to manage the way change is implemented in the organization. Change should never be introduced in a vacuum. The organization should communicate proposed changes before they happen and plan to minimize the impact of the change. Communication should include how the new system will impact workflows and job processes. Employees may have concerns about their job and how their job will change post implementation. Training should be provided so that employees are comfortable with the new system prior to going live. The change management process is a critical component of IT oversight and can help ensure buy-in from employees and the organization.
Technology represents a large investment in time and money for organizations. Information systems represent the largest portion of capital spending at most firms, and an astonishing one in three technology development projects fail to be successfully deployed. 
Why such a bad track record? Sometimes technology itself is to blame, other times it’s a failure to test systems adequately, and sometimes it’s a breakdown of process and procedures used to set specifications and manage projects. Projects rarely fail for just one reason. Project post-mortems often point to a combination of technical, project management, and business decision blunders.
The most common factors include the following:
- Unrealistic or unclear project goals
- Poor project leadership and weak executive commitment
- Inaccurate estimates of needed resources
- Badly defined system requirements and allowing “feature creep” during development
- Poor reporting of the project’s status
- Poor communication among customers, developers, and users
- Use of immature technology
- Unmanaged risks
- Inability to handle the project’s complexity
- Sloppy development and testing practices
- Poor project management
- Stakeholder politics
- Commercial pressures (e.g., leaving inadequate time or encouraging corner-cutting) 
Managers need to understand the complexity involved in their technology investments, and that achieving success rarely lies with the strength of the technology alone. Organizations can work to implement procedures to improve the overall quality of their development practices. Firms are also well served to leverage established project planning and software development methodologies that outline critical businesses processes and stages when executing large-scale software development projects.
After a new system has been introduced, it enters the maintenance phase. The system is in production and is being used by the organization. While the system is no longer actively being developed, changes need to be made when bugs are found or new features are requested. During the maintenance phase, IT management must ensure that the system continues to stay aligned with business priorities and continues to run well. Documentation is key at this stage and others, so that there is information to refer to on the changes made. Feedback is important as well in order to drive future development.
- Dignan, L.(2007, December 11). Survey: One in 3 IT Projects Fail: Management OK with It. ZDNet.https://www.zdnet.com/article/survey-one-in-3-it-projects-fail-management-ok-with-it/ ↵
- Charette, R. (2005, September). Why Software Fails. IEEE Spectrum. ↵