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An Integrated Risk Management (IRM) implementation plan is so much like a well-planned travel itinerary. It informs you about the starting point, the schedule, it lays down the entire journey (with the checkpoints and maps) and even tells you alternate routes and destinations you might visit.

IRM implementation constitutes a big part of an IRM purchase. While each vendor does it differently, certain elements and best practices are critical to a successful implementation. An IRM implementation requires a collaborative effort from business and IT teams so that your IRM vendor can see the process through swiftly.

You don’t know what you don’t know. And a lack of knowledge and insight into the implementation process can mean false expectations and bumps in the road.

When researching IRM platforms leading up to a purchase, it’s helpful to understand what is involved in the implementation phase. This phase follows planning and configuration and is the final step before your team begins using the system.

Why an IRM implementation plan is critical

The IRM implementation phase ends in delivering and deploying the configured software into your environment. This process should be guided by a detailed implementation plan, whether the project involves decommissioning an existing solution or deploying an IRM platform for the first time, so that:

You’re well informed of and prepared for the business maintenance window.

The elements that deserve space in the communication plan, including the schedule, checkpoint meetings and rollback actions, are defined.
Your vendor has a ready list of the stakeholders, project resources, support resources, vendors, etc., for proper people and project management.
You’ve identified the impact of successful or unsuccessful implementation on your business processes and people’s roles.

Ultimately, it will save you from surprises and setbacks during the implementation phase.

Your role is that of an informer and coordinator on the part of your company. You’re responsible for providing details about your environment and provisioning access so that the IRM implementation team can roll up their sleeves and set it up.

Components of the implementation plan

The IRM implementation plan should include the following key components:

Business requirements
It’s important to note that your vendor will enrich the implementation plan with elements of your business requirements, such as:

• Business area, division etc.
• Service time – global time zones if you work across borders
• Expected disruption to business service times – avoid and account for operational downtime
• The scope of work
• Go/no-go decisions that teams will need to make on-the-fly
• Business tasks and changes
• Roll back implications
• Dependencies

Technical components
An implementation plan should also encompass technical components, such as:

• Vendor by vendor checklist if multiple integrations are involved
• A technical task list of the expected changes in your environment, including the data integration

Implementation schedule
The implementation schedule enlists all activities, the person/group accountable for each and the expected schedule. This is how tasks are communicated with their what, who and when.

Maintenance window requirements
This area lists expected downtimes so that each impacted business unit understands the impact they might shoulder and takes necessary steps to ensure system availability.

What is the fallout if the system is unavailable from Friday 12:00 PM to Monday 06:00 AM or if there is a delay in the implementation?

Rollback plan
A rollback plan is like insurance. If something gets delayed or doesn’t go as expected, you may need to roll everything back to the status quo as if the implementation never occurred.

This plan also needs its own communication plan to prevent surprises if something goes wrong. The rollback plan also includes a description of its trigger point- when does a team resort to firing up the rollback?

Checkpoints
It’s necessary to communicate task progress and problems in real-time for better efficiency and transparency. Setting checkpoints avoids delay in decision-making.

If escalated issues get thrown back and forth in emails then decision-making can get complicated. Therefore, setting checkpoint meetings is vital. And, go / no-go checkpoint meetings always include decision-makers to avoid interruptions in the implementation or unexpected business downtime.

Creating an implementation plan aims to outline the what, when, where and who of IRM implementation, besides defining a plan of action in anomalous situations.

Just like a well-planned travel itinerary, an implementation plan removes the guesswork and eliminates surprises, while ensuring you are prepared for success, whether it is a smooth implementation or a worry-free travel experience.

In addition to creating this plan, your IRM provider will also proactively manage the sequence of events inside the plan. The implementation must happen one step at a time, in a controlled manner that allows for go/no go decisions to be made at each checkpoint.

Compliance is complex, but the implementation of your IRM solution can be straightforward with the right provider. As you learn about IRM solutions and prepare for your project, it’s critical to understand what it involves, so there are no surprises and the result is a hiccup-free implementation experience.