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The keys to a successful eTS implementation are open communication, documentation, and both parties being consistent and reliable. Our overall goal in eTS customer implementations is to assist in providing a smooth, timely transition by:
- Clearly defining conversion goals
- Mitigating risk issues that could result in monetary or time loss
- Optimizing/revamping current business processes the customer performs
- Administering end user training on the eTS
Our eTS customer implementation process usually consists of four steps. We begin implementations with a project kick off meeting with the agency. These are normally on-site visits at the agency. During this kick off meeting several things are accomplished such as:
- A demo of the eTS
- Provide the customer with a high level overview of the project plan
- Try to determine any unique needs the customer may have
- Attempt to gain a feel for the customer’s business practices/processes and visualize the impact on the project and/or ongoing operations after implementation
Once the kick off meeting is completed, then we hold bi-weekly conference calls with the customer. During these bi-weekly conference calls we continue to develop relationships and establish contacts with key personnel. We review/monitor tasks on the project plan documenting the status of each task. Besides the demo that we provided during the kick off meeting, we also allow for select customer personnel to have access to our training database in order for them to have ‘hands on’ experience and to be able see ‘up-close’ how the eTS system works. By the customers actually creating documents in the training database of eTS, these bi-weekly calls aid in allowing for ongoing discussions of system capabilities and capacities to meet the customer’s needs. Also during the course of these bi-weekly meetings, the customer is working on completing traveler information worksheets, approving official worksheets, routing lists, and groups. We need all of this information, prior to the customer going live in the eTS, to set up their organization correctly. A rollout schedule is also established during these calls.
Our third step is training the customer. Normally the training is done on-site, but we have also used an on-line training tool to provide training. The customer decides what type of training is to be done, such as ‘Train the Trainer’ or ‘Train the User’ type of training. The customer also decides how the training will be done (such as demos, hands-on training, on-line sessions, etc.) and who will attend the training. Each training session is geared specifically toward the agency’s policies and requirements. A normal training session would include a thorough overview of authorizations, vouchers, local vouchers, amendments/adjustments, and how to approve a document.
The fourth step is post implementation issues. Post implementation issues are usually minor and are easily corrected. An example of a post implementation issue may be that a user does not have the proper permission level to approve a document. When this happens, we refer back to the worksheets provided to us by the agency and can determine if the user should have originally been set up with approval access or not. If they are not listed on the documentation we originally received, then we simply ask for documentation from the customer and update the user’s profile.
Now just because a customer’s eTS implementation is completed, the relationship and communication process does not stop. We continue to communicate any eTS outages, reservation unavailability, and system changes/enhancements via email notifications. Our eTS vendor informs us of any scheduled or unscheduled eTS outages and reservation unavailability, which in turn, we pass on to our customer contacts. Our eTS vendor also routinely implements table updates and enhancements to the eTS. We are notified in advance of these implementations and the items that will be included. We perform comprehensive testing in both the training and production environments of the items being implemented, as well as, ‘routine’ testing. ‘Routine’ testing includes the basics such as creating authorizations, vouchers, local vouchers, amendments, etc. If we find any items that do not work or are not working correctly, we contact our eTS vendor and then they research the issue to determine the problem. Sometimes the issue can be resolved quickly and other times it may take a while. It just depends on what is causing the problem and how it needs to be fixed.
After our testing is completed, we send out guidance to our customer contacts that includes information on the enhancement updates, as well as, any major system functionality that may have been disabled/interrupted during the implementation.
Another part of the communication process with our customers is through our help desk. We have a very qualified and informed help desk. After we have completed a customer’s eTS implementation, that customer’s users call our help desk to obtain the information, assistance, and/or guidance they need in order to resolve their issue or problem within the eTS.
by Susan Garrett
The contents of this message are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the Government or my agency.