ETS Implementation

» Posted by on Nov 21, 2013 in Business Practices, Electronic Travel Systems, Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

In 1995 my agency purchased the Gelco Travel Manager software and I worked on transitioning our travelers from a paper based manual system to a fully automated one that was hosted in-house.   Almost 10 years after implementing an electronic travel system, the Federal Travel Regulations (FTR) were updated to require all government agencies to migrate to one of three ETS systems hosted by the vendor.  During those 10 years with Travel Manager the Bureau I work for began franchising accounting and travel services and we converted our 30 plus customers from a manual travel process to that of an automated one.  During those years, we supported our customers with training and a robust help desk.  In addition, we had developed a strong travel program that revolved around an automated system and had plenty of travel system expertise in-house.

Moving to an eTS hosted by a vendor was not a huge leap for us since we already had 10 years of experience managing an electronic travel system.  The functionality of the eTS we selected was similar to that of Travel Manager with the addition of on-line booking.  One thing we had learned from our experience with Travel Manager is that you must provide adequate training to the users and you must support them once they begin using the new system.  I believe most people can adapt to anything as long as they have a “life-line” to be able to reach out to and confidence in those they are asking for help from.   And reach out they did and based on our existing relationship supporting them on Travel Manager they had the confidence we knew how to help them. Upon deploying the eTS, our help desk calls increased by over 300%.   Calls continued to be high for many months after deployment.  We were able to keep up with the calls by phasing in customer migrations and adding extra resources to our help desk.  Our schedule was aggressive to meet the September 2006 deadline but we were able to transition all of our existing customers from Travel Manager to an ETS by the deadline.

Another strategy we employed was relying as little on the ETS vendor as possible.  Since the system is hosted externally there were many things that we needed to partner with the vendor on for a successful implementation but those functions we could control we kept in-house, which included training and help desk.  We know our travelers and know we were in the best position to train and support them on the new ETS system.

Being one of the first agencies to deploy an ETS meant dealing with many system issues and developing new processes.  I consider our implementation successful and based on feedback I know our travelers would agree due to being adequately trained and having superior help desk support when they needed it most.

by Diana Bonnell

Disclaimer: The contents of this message are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the Government or my agency.  Use of this equipment is consistent with the agency’s policy governing limited personal use.

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