Transitioning to a new helpline service provider can seem daunting, but with advanced planning it can be a seamless and successful process for your organization. What’s more is that you don’t need to go it alone. Your new service provider should work with you to assemble a project plan to help facilitate the change management process within your organization. This strategy and planning consultation should include considerations and best practices for rollout and communication based on your organization’s culture, resource requirements, approval processes and how new technology is typically introduced.
At a minimum, a project and change management plan should consider the following items when preparing for your transition.
- Timing of your transition
- Internal resource requirements
- Transfer of your helpline phone numbers
- Migrating historical issue report data
Timing of your transition
It’s recommend that you plan for a four to six week overlap in service with your current provider and your new provider. The overlap period provides a buffer for any additional time that may be needed for configuring your new helpline and case management system, provisioning helpline phone numbers, migrating historical report data and communicating the new services to your employees prior to your service termination date with your current provider.
Timing of your transition should also consider how you plan to communicate and rollout the new services to your organization. Your communication strategy may be tied to a specific company event, require updates to your internal sites and/or require publishing of new communication materials.
Internal resource requirements
When preparing for a transition to a new service provider it’s important to also consider the internal resources that may be required and the role they will play in the transition. Internal resources may include the following:
- Executive sponsor: Communicates and reinforces the business decision to switch service providers, the business value of the new system and broader goals and objectives. Additionally helps define the project timeline.
- Administrative users: Act as subject matter experts and participate in training, setup and testing activities as the power users of the new system. Additionally, this group of users will offer operational and tactical support for rollout and launch.
- IT resources: Assist with any advanced configuration and testing activities. May include assistance with historical data migration, telephony setup, single sign on, system integrations, HR data loads, etc.
Transfer of your hotline phone numbers
To aid in a seamless transition, you may prefer to use existing helpline phone numbers if they have already been widely communicated to your employees. Your existing phone numbers can be pointed to your new helpline as part of the onboarding and implementation process and mapped to custom helpline greetings specific to you organization.
To utilize existing phone numbers you will need to confirm the following with your current service provider:
- Are the numbers you currently use dedicated to your organization?
- Does your organization own your hotline numbers or does your vendor own the numbers?
- What is your vendor’s process for transferring ownership of the phone numbers to your organization? This is often referred to as a RespOrg process.
- Does your vendor charge a fee for transferring ownership of your phone numbers?
Your new service provider should assist you in understanding your current provider’s RespOrg process and ensure a seamless transfer of ownership to your organization. Most organizations choose to have ownership of their phone numbers transferred to their organization. Owning the phone numbers prevents your organization from having to enter another RespOrg process should you decided to change service providers again at a later date. If ownership of the phone numbers cannot be transferred to your organization, your new service provider can assist you in provisioning new dedicated numbers
Owning dedicated helpline phone numbers allows your organization to customize the message that welcomes your employees to the helpline. Custom greetings can additionally be recorded in multiple languages allowing your employees to select and hear the greeting in their native language. Your new service provider should work with you to define your custom greeting text and required languages.
And again, once your organization owns its helpline numbers, this will ensure you can transfer the number to future service providers as needed.
Migrating historical data
When transitioning to a new service provider, it’s advised that you request a copy of your issue report data from your current provider. Many customers keep this data stored in a separate secure database so it can be referenced at a later date. Some service providers may have the added option to import your legacy data for historical reporting purposes within the new application.
You may be wondering when is the best time to migrate your data? Data migration can be done as part of your initial implementation process or at a later date after you have begun using your new case management system. Getting your new system up and running and migrating your historical data at a later date is ideal for customers that require a quick cutover to a new provider or may not have large data volumes.
It’s important to note that the amount of time to migrate historical data can vary by service provider and can take up to eight weeks once data is received by your new provider. When considering your options, it’s important to understand what your current and new service providers can commit to.
Questions to ask your current service provider:
- How long will it take to receive your historical data? This includes all issue reports and associated attachments.
- How far in advance are you required to make the request for a data extract?
- Can you potentially receive multiple data extracts? This may include one full data set for the initial data mapping and testing activities and potentially a second full data set just before the final migration in case any report or case data has been modified since the previous extract.
- Can your service provider supply your report data and attachments in the required file format requested by your new service provider?
Questions your new service provider may ask you regarding historical data migration:
- What is your desired date to have the data import completed?
- What is the volume of historical reports that need to be imported?
- Would the import include attachments and if so, approximately how many?
- What is your historical volume of departments, locations, user records and user groups that would need to be imported?
- Does your legacy data include message board activity or communications with reporting parties or other administrative users?
- Does your legacy data include information from custom fields or include custom issue types?
- Was your report intake channel in any languages other than English? If so, what were they?
Your new service provider may recommend a black out period of 2-5 days in which no case management activities are performed on open reports in your previous system after a pre-defined date. Once the blackout period has begun, the final data files would be provided for upload into the new application. Following the data migration, your case administrators can resume normal case management activities in the new application. Any new reports submitted during the blackout period would be manually entered as proxy reports in the new application. As a best practice, proxy reports should include a reference to the original report ID and/or include an attached copy of the original report.
A blackout period may not be needed for organizations with lower report volume or if the majority of reports have been closed out prior to migration. In this scenario, customers can define a desired cutover date where all closed issues are migrated to the new system. All open issues can then be manually entered as proxy reports in the new system and worked to closure in the new system.
As part of your communication and rollout strategy, employees should be redirected to the new helpline or web intake form immediately following the data migration. This will limit the number of new reports that get filed in your previous system that then need to be manually entered as proxy reports in your new system.