Kristine Metter at AcademyHealth has been working with her staff as they go live with a new association management system. Kristine made some observations about their experience after the first week of being live in a new system, which I thought were valuable enough to share (with her permission. Thanks, Kristine).

Kristine writes: "All in all, staff responses have been more good than bad. I do sense a little frustration out there now that folks have started trying to do routine tasks in the new system, but I hope that we're in the normal range."

My thoughts: Frustration with new tasks is to be expected, especially with routine tasks. Imagine if every day for four years you took one route to work and then, because of construction, you had to take a new route that seemed to take longer (and maybe was longer, at first). This is what all users experience when they change systems. What was once routine is, by definition, not routine…yet. So some frustration is to be expected.

Kristine write: "One thing we set up to help minimize the frustration is starting this week and for the next four weeks we have scheduled an open lunchtime meeting every Monday and Thursday for staff to get together and share tips they've learned and seek help with tasks. It's sort of a peer-to-peer learning network. We hope this will help empower the front line users to share and consult each other. We also think this will be a good opportunity for our DBA to start building an FAQ that can be put on our intranet."

My thoughts: This is a fantastic idea! It is especially critical in the first weeks of go-live to keep the staff talking to each other. One thing you'll learn quickly is that decisions made prior to go-live may not be the decision you want to stick with now that the system is live. And developing documentation and business rules (your FAQ) is a great idea as well.

Kristine writes: "We're also establishing a permanent users group that will meet once a month and have 1-2 reps from each program team. These meetings will be used to lay down the law for office-wide procedures. Team reps will be expected to relay the rules back to their respective teams."

My thoughts: Again, another great idea. Internal users groups are just as important as external users groups. Continuing to meet once per month for the foreseeable future will pay divends for a long time.

Note that none of these ideas is terribly difficult to implement, but they will provide tremendous benefit to AcademyHealth and increase the likelihood of the AMS's long-term success.