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Technology & Innovation

The benefits of phased technology implementations for TAFEs

For any TAFE, transitioning to a substantial new technology system (like a student management system) takes serious orchestration.  But when executed well, change of this size, measured by both scale and importance, can deliver significant business value into the future. 


One implementation option is a ‘Big Bang’ approach. This means working towards enabling all parts of the system at the same time. A popular mode of implementation in the past, it aims to put everything in place before Go Live. It neatly divides a TAFE’s past from its future. 


While this can be satisfying, it is now being set aside in favour of a phased approach.  


What is a phased approach to implementation?  


A phased approach allows large technology buyers like TAFEs to see their implementation as a project that continually releases value. Instead of a single ‘Big Bang’, functionalities of a system are introduced in a particular sequence, replacing old systems and processes gradually.  


While taking slightly longer, it can often prove less disruptive to ongoing operations. It can also minimise some of the risks associated with large scale, business-critical implementations.  


A phased approach might mean beginning with high priority core functionality to deliver the most impact right away. Alternatively, it might mean picking off smaller, more manageable pieces of work to capture early value more readily and build confidence in the system. 


Each project will vary in how the phases are designed and delivered. How a phased approach is undertaken involves a number of considerations, like timing for the TAFE, the ability to deliver, the value a TAFE is wanting to realise, and the status of the existing systems. 


There are a number of good reasons to consider a phased implementation. 


1. Choose your challenge 


TAFEs often have multiple pressing technology challenges they wish to solve. Whether these sit in the arena of student experience, or in the operational heart of a TAFE, they can often be worked on as discreet problems within the larger context of an implementation.  


This is because a phased approach doesn’t require a TAFE to solve every problem at once. It allows TAFEs to focus on particular problems on the project roadmap, and choose to an extent how and when these challenges will be solved, rather than waiting right until the very end.  


2. Deliver value earlier 


A large technology replacement project can take a number of years. While it might feel neater to switch old systems off and launch a new one on at an appointed time, the reality is TAFEs might have to wait years before they begin extracting value from their implementation. 


A phased implementation changes this dynamic. By breaking projects up into phases, which include partial releases, TAFEs can begin realising value from their investments throughout the project’s length, compounding returns during the total period of implementation. 


3. Minimise implementation risk 


No implementation project can be undertaken without risk, and this includes large system implementations. With so many systems in play in a TAFE, there is obviously a certain risk in entirely changing that system architecture overnight when you press play on a new system.  


A phased approach helps minimise this risk. By enabling the replacement of systems one at a time as part of a sequence, it allows an orderly approach of removing, replacing or building interaction and integration among systems in ways that support continuity and minimise risk.


4. Build behavioural change


Technologies are only as good as the people who will use them. While you can have the best system and functionality available in the market, if your users do not support the adoption, the full value of the system may not be utilised, decreasing the return on project investment.  


A phased approach gives TAFEs time to build behavioural change among user groups. By introducing change in stages, users can be moved from A to B gradually in ways that support strong system adoption and best practice system use, boosting results for TAFEs overall.  


Digital transformation through phased implementation  


True digital transformation is never about just swapping one technology for another, or even just digitising existing manual processes. In truth, it’s about promoting changes to the way a TAFE operates, to create a platform for delivering future education and training excellence.  


In that context, a phased approach not only lowers any risk of the technical transition between systems, but also offers the time and space needed to execute the process and behavioural change required for the project to be a success and deliver on the promise.  


Staggering the releases allows better planning, control and testing when rolling out the solution to end users. It can also make budgeting and financial planning easier as each phase involves smaller incremental change, and can be more readily scoped and managed.  


There's also the fact digital transformation doesn’t end when a new system is in place.  


An investment in continuous improvement is now a crucial part of the commitment in large scale implementations. Technology products like ReadyTech’s JR Plus are always evolving and creating new value for customers with each release. It’s important that an ongoing strategy for adoption is developed so each TAFE continues to realise the benefits of this agile approach.  


Interested in learning more about how we help TAFE providers with next generation enterprise student management technology? Learn more here.