Transition to ETS2

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» Posted by on Jul 30, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems | 1 comment

Transitioning to a new E-Gov Travel Service 2 (ETS2) system in the next few years will be challenging, and change management will likely be the key to success.  There will be complex, more technical work to be completed – migrating user data and settings from the old E-Gov Travel Service (ETS) system, configuring the ETS2 system for agency travel policies, interfacing ETS2 with our financial management system – but assisting travelers, travel arrangers, and approvers in changing from the old system to the new will be key.

My agency went from a very effective, simple in-house electronic authorization and vouchering system to using one of the three ETS systems 5 years ago.  The old electronic travel authorization and voucher system did its job very well, particularly in facilitating the timely payment of vouchers.  But the old system enforced little travel policy – Federal and agency travel policy that users of the ETS system may not have even known existed.

The old system also did not have an integrated Online Booking Engine (OBE).  Unlike a travel agent, an OBE can’t really answer your questions or help you with anything that you don’t specifically ask for.  While very convenient for simple trips, an OBE isn’t ideal for more complicated multiple city travel.  Travelers and travel arrangers had to be educated that there are some trips were it makes sense to spend a little extra by using a travel agent.

The challenges of system-enforced travel policy and an integrated OBE have been successfully overcome now with use of our ETS system.  It is unlikely that we will need to jump these hurdles again with ETS2.

The user interface of our ETS system was a little rough around the edges initially, but the vendor has made improvements over the years to make the system more user-friendly.  The new user interface of the ETS2 system may very well be the biggest change overall that will need to be addressed.  The ETS2 system’s user interface won’t be “worse” than the ETS system’s user interface, just different.

So, how should we successfully manage the change from an ETS system to an ETS2 system?

It will be very important to have buy-in of ETS2 from Executive leadership at the agency.  For ETS, we had this.  For ETS, we had a strong Executive Sponsor who kept peers updated on a regular basis on the status of implementing our ETS system.  This message was communicated by our Executive Sponsor over and over:  ETS is happening, believe it and be ready!  This same strong leadership will be required for ETS2 to be successful.

Communication with and training of users are also extremely important.  For ETS, communication with users was primarily of key upcoming events like demos and training courses.  Some public relations, PR-type communication to build interest prior to implementation was done, but more could have occurred and likely helped ease the change.  Training was provided on-site in offices throughout the United States.  Those that attended training seemed to handle the change to the new system much better (no surprise there).  In hindsight we could have been more pro-active in ensuring more users attended the training.

For ETS, we identified “super users.”  Super users are highly-trained employees that are willing and able to provide support to users of the ETS system at a local level, within their office and/or geographical area.  Super users supplement formal help desks, and we asked super users to even be the first line of defense whenever possible.  Super users had direct access to the team that implemented the ETS system, including attending recurring conference calls and meetings both prior to implementation and after.  It was particularly important to meet with super users on a regular basis in the weeks immediately following implementation.  These calls and meetings let an individual super user get an answer from the implementation team that may be pertinent to many super users.  The recurring calls and meetings also facilitated super users talking amongst themselves to share best practices in helping users.

On a personal note, I do find it interesting and even a bit amusing that in my experience the same people who complain about a new system are often those that complain when that system is later being replaced.  I expect that some of the biggest opponents of our ETS system will be some of its biggest proponents now that it will be going away.  Makes you think that it might not be the system that is the “problem,” but maybe the real issue is users resisting changing the way they have been doing things.  No matter, the change still needs to be managed.

By: Kevin Young

1 Comment

  1. Great article. You clearly understand what’s needed for a successful transition!

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