Slate Implementation Phases
With the preparation phase complete, you will have established your Slate team and steering committee, completed the appropriate Fundamentals course in Learning Lab, and completed a process review and data audit of your current operations.
And after reviewing the Roadmap, you'll have made a personalized list of core Slate features to be built out, arranged in an order that makes sense for your situation.
Now, the rubber hits the road as you enter the implementation phase. You'll need a strong, flexible project plan to shepherd your team through each Roadmap phase. This document will equip you with the project management techniques that have proven most successful for clients executing on that plan.
Creating a project plan
Once you've completed the preparation and Roadmap phases, you can start developing a project plan with your team. The first step in creating a project plan has your team creating actionable steps based on your Roadmap.
Mapping your Roadmap to an implementation checklist
Your Roadmap defines which operations to build out and in what order. From there, our sample implementation checklist creates the step-by-step requirements for standing up each operation.
Focus on building out essential operations and look for opportunities to improve operational efficiency using Slate's data-based automatic processes. Add custom requirements as necessary.
Our sample implementation checklist provides specific action items for developing each type of admissions operation. The order laid out in the default implementation checklist reflects the order established in our standard Roadmap. If you have made changes to our recommended Roadmap, reorder the items in the implementation checklist accordingly.
- Leverage the Implementation Checklist to create your own step-by-step instructions for establishing specific operations in Slate.
Assigning tasks and set due dates
A well-designed project plan features highly visible, realistic goals; keeps your team organized; and measures progress.
Project due dates reflect a balance between your implementation goals and a careful review of significant variables, such as:
- The size of your team
- The complexity of your operations
- Competing priorities
Stay flexible: as you learn more about the capabilities of Slate and of your team's own, dates and goals can change.
Project management strategies
- Learning Lab
- Our online courses are a great way to train yours staff. Each Slate license includes three waivers for The Fundamentals of Admissions and Enrollment; however, there is no limit to the number of additional users who can attend for a nominal fee. Intermediate and advanced courses are also available.
- Knowledge Base
- Slate support resources a valuable resource whenever questions pop up. Knowledge Base documentation and the Community Forums are a great first stop.
- Find fully-realized examples of Slate features—many of which can be pulled into your database as a Suitcase import—in the Slate Showcase environment.
Embarking on your first project
Your first project will teach your team a great deal about the Slate's capabilities and those of your team. We suggest creating a request for information (RFI) form.
Creating a form synthesizes several distinct Slate elements in a single start-to-finish process. It involves standard and custom person-scoped fields, customization, form logic, and communications; as such, forms make for good practice in translating an aspect of your former process into Slate functionality, and they give your team a feel for the way Slate works.
Hone your project management skills during the development and testing of your new inquiry form by:
- Reading relevant Knowledge Base articles for instructions
- Reviewing your legacy system's form (if you have one)
- Cataloguing and evaluating what questions you are asking and how answers are stored
- Determining how the form's data will be managed in Slate using standard and custom fields
- Determining how the inquiry form relates to the overall recruiting process. For example, what should happen when a student submits this form?
- Developing a step-by-step project plan for creating an inquiry form and related communications
- Getting in the habit of troubleshooting any technical concerns
- Similarly, reaching out to the Slate Community for additional support or guidance
- Testing your new form carefully
Once you finish your first project, celebrate the win! Confidence and a positive attitude will help you build momentum for the remainder of the implementation.
Lessons learned: How to evaluate your first completed project
Your first project provides a chance to develop good project management habits. As you begin developing additional functionality in Slate, draw on the lessons learned.
Iterate your project plan
Take a second look at your project plan, and modify it if necessary.
Questions to ask your team and yourself:
- Did we complete the appropriate sections in the Fundamentals of Admissions and Enrollment?
- Do we understand your data requirements completely?
- Does our plan need more detail, or less?
- Are our due dates too ambitious, or too cautious?
Support your Slate team and steering committee
Meet regularly with your Slate team to discuss your implementation's progress and the team's interdependence, especially if team members are working on distinct operations at the same time. Use your Roadmap to support collaboration.
Leverage your steering committee to help make strategic decisions quickly and overcome institutional resistance to change.
As you work, identify the early-adopters ready and willing to try something new and bring them aboard your team or steering committee.
Test and troubleshoot
While we encourage you to build functionality in your production environment, refreshing your test environment gives you freedom to activate and evaluate new configurations and the resulting record transactions, especially with rules and data imports, and outgoing communications.
Move select objects from your test environment to production using Suitcase.
Learn the best ways to troubleshoot, and take advantage of all Technolutions support resources, including self-directed, community-based and advanced.
One step at a time: Advice for working through the Roadmap
- Don't miss the forest for the trees
- While you get to work building out your next operation, one process at a time, evaluate how those disparate processes work together.
- Edge cases can wait
When building out complex operations like the application or the Reader, concentrate on creating a process that will work for the majority of your students. It's easy to get sidetracked trying to develop functionality that supports every possible exception to every possible process.
You can always put together a simple administrative solution during your first year in Slate. Come back to the highly-specific for when you have more time and experience.
- Maintain momentum
We understand: distractions and competing priorities are inevitable in a busy admissions office. Keeping your focus on good project management (rather than any given piece of functionality) will help you stay on track.
Share the work and the learning with your team. Clarify competing priorities with your steering committee. Leverage the power and experience of the Slate Community when you need help!
When you have finished building and testing all essential processes in your new Slate database and your staff is trained and ready, then it is time to move all your records and active operations into Slate. You are ready to go live!
Create a go-live checklist:
- Migrate all records from your pre-Slate system.
- Update links on your website and advertisements to point to Slate objects such as forms, applications and portals.
- Redirect regular incoming feeds to Slate and activate source formats in Production.
- Don't forget to check that your branding is in place!
- Activate necessary functionality in Slate production.
- Anything you missed..? Take one last look through the list to make sure!
Once you are live and working in Slate, continue to monitor newly activated processes, continue meeting with your Slate team and steering committee, and begin planning your next project!
Next up:Phase IV: Year One & Beyond