In software projects, everyone is looking forward to the end result and implementation of the system with all its functions. It happens, however, that once the work is done – Clients often feel lost about the next steps. Then a well-thought-out solution comes in handy: the offboarding process, which helps plan deployment & adoption of the dedicated system painlessly.
To properly cover this subject, we focused on all the key points:
- Success Criteria and their importance,
- Benefits of a good offboarding,
- The offboarding process step by step.
To take into account all the most important elements, we have established our own, completely new offboarding formula at Inwedo. To better understand its purpose, clear out any doubts or fears – let’s focus not only on why and how it is organized but also on what value it brings for both sides of the project.
Our Client’s perspective
What does the client gain from the offboarding? Huge, extensive support for sure. Understanding the Client’s needs in terms of proper implementation and adoption of the software is crucial to its success. We want to make sure the implementation is not only planned but actually carried out – so we define the best forms of assisting the Client in the process.
Success Criteria verification
Verifying if we’ve achieved our success criteria is the backbone of the offboarding process. When starting work on a project, determining success criteria is the beginning point for planning activities, setting tasks, and the roadmap. Together with the client, we define key metrics that help us assess the performance of the project. Offboarding – as an ending to a certain project phase, is a natural moment to look back on our assumptions and verify the planned objectives. We take into account factors such as:
- Were we able to measure everything as planned?
- What are the results of each of the criteria?
- What have we learned from the project?
By looking at the success criteria, we can also conclude whether we formulated them well in the beginning. Assuming everything has been fulfilled, we have nothing to worry about. Otherwise, we need to rethink certain criteria that we didn’t entirely execute and analyze them again. Metrics that haven’t been achieved sometimes need redefinition, other times turn out not to be as crucial as originally planned. Every metric, however, achieved or not – is always a valuable lesson for the whole project team, that allows us to improve our kick-off process for the iterations to come. If you want to know more about the kick-off process and what it looks like, read our last article about project kick-off.
To close the project or phase well – just organize the offboarding!
Over the years of working with various clients, we have noticed there’s often certain uncertainty when it comes to closing the project. It often happened that the stakeholders didn’t feel the need to perform the offboarding process, wanting to focus only on the tests of the finished system. At the same time, the introduction of a new piece of software seemed challenging new software was a challenge to them. Wanting to ensure quality implementation, in which everyone clearly knows and understands their roles or tasks, so that the entire process runs smoothly – we insisted on completing a basic offboarding checklist before any go live.
“Long before our clients were aware of the full offboarding concept and benefits of the process, we were doing it somewhat intuitively as part of software adoption. This is due to our Go Beyond attitude and care for the clients we work with. Learning from our experiences, we were gradually building the standard of the offboarding we have today. We educate our Clients on its importance, as go-live of a new app or its features is often a turning point for the overall success of the project. Well-organized and comprehensive offboarding helps to save time and money on further tool maintenance, or make sure it’s actually released into the world.”
Agata Solnica, Key Account Manager at Inwedo
Offboarding gives time to get the client’s feedback and discuss the future of application development. By reserving the last week of work for offboarding, we gain a buffer to help the client before starting a new project. We can fully focus on summarizing the project together and listen to the stakeholder’s thoughts on cooperation, quality of the delivered product, and business values.
Forms of implementation and support
The form of assistance, system implementation, and future users’ support depend on mutual agreements. The plan for the implementation of the system and presenting it to a wider group inside the organization may be shown in a form of:
- a presentation for the management board,
- a video call with all employees of the client’s company.
- a dedicated manual.
If we continue our cooperation with the Client on system maintenance tasks – they can count on responding to user requests, system updates, or building new, small features by developers. User support may be provided, for example, as part of a service package offered by a software house or may be additionally priced.
Product Owner’s perspective
The Product Owner perspective perfectly shows the nature of the entire offboarding process. This is the beginning of a new stage and an adventure for the client that has its separate challenges, and offboarding allows us to prepare for them.
”The offboarding process is the moment when everything starts for the client so we don’t actually treat it like the end of the project. Well, yes – it’s some kind of a summary, but most of all the beginning of the customers’ adventure with the entire system.
Part of the whole process is going back to arrangements from kick-off to summarize them and draw conclusions. But most of all, we present to the client what further cooperation and maintenance will look like.”
Paulina Mączyńska, Product Owner in Inwedo
Offboarding allows the team to organize knowledge and current tasks. This will reduce the time it takes to return to development and iteration number 2. It can also reduce the time and cost of introducing new people if the team grows.
Another value of offboarding is that all arrangements will be written in one place. The client will gain a knowledge base and if he uses the tool inside the company, such a base will become especially useful for people who have not participated in software development so far.
Offboarding will help you plan activities around software adoption as well – when the app is already IN USE.
It will be possible to foresee such elements as
- preparation for welcoming users to the system,
- taking care of their initial experience,
- considering how we can facilitate this entry (manual, video tutorial, etc.)
- and determining how we can further support the client and users (maintenance framework – both time and task).
With offboarding, the whole process of implementation will become more predictable.
The team begins preparations for the main meeting with the client with internal offboarding. It’s a complex, multi-stage process that guarantees good preparation for delivering the project to the stakeholders. Organizing offboarding helps to find the best way of adapting the system and its implementation, which we can then propose to the client. Usually, it starts with the verification of the aforementioned success criteria and comparing them to the final product. Then the team focuses on all technical aspects, preparing tools, and completing documentation. This is a fairly standard procedure among software houses.
At Inwedo, we develop an application implementation plan adapted to the structure of the client’s company.
With ideas for further development in mind, the team prepares an application implementation plan and an offboarding presentation containing:
- all summarized project information and
- an overview of the next steps, such as tasks still to be performed in connection with the project, provision of documentation or possible training.
Defining the steps together with the client, outlining the areas of responsibility, what and when will happen next is particularly important. It gives the client and the team the feeling that they know how to continue, how to plan their time, who the client can contact when they have questions after the start and when we arrange an update of the situation and further planning/resumption of work.
If we have such a plan at the end of the offboarding – it’s much easier to go back to the project, the team is less off-track, and resuming work later is much easier and less costly.
Finalization of the project – offboarding with the client
When it comes to meeting with the client, it’s one of the last stages of offboarding and the most important one at the same time. The team presents conclusions collected during its internal offboarding, which also gives an insight into the results achieved. Then, in addition to making sure all documentation, code and protocols have been received by the stakeholders, the form and extent of support should also be discussed.
This undoubtedly needs to be talked over in detail, as well as the future of cooperation between the sides. On the part of the development team, it’s certainly desirable to establish an action plan with the application. This gives you the opportunity to see the big picture of the project and makes the process predictable, easier to manage, and more cost-effective. Of course, if we only finish one phase of work on the system, which we summarize during offboarding, we move on to the next one.
The client’s feedback is an important part of the offboarding process
Thanks to this, the team knows whether the application development process was effective from the point of view of stakeholders and whether the cooperation was successful. We always encourage clients to share their feedback openly with the team. It’s crucial for us not only to know what our Clients appreciate in working with us, but also what surprised them in the process, where they lacked knowledge, or if anything felt confusing. This allows us to adjust our ways of working to tune in with the Clients’ needs.
The offboarding process gives great value to both the client and the development team. After going through all its stages, the team can be sure that they will provide the stakeholders not only a great product but also know how to support them and what the common future of cooperation looks like. For the client, it’s a perfect start with the system developed for them. For the team, it’s not only the time to summarize and give the application to use but also gather value that will help to improve further.