Don't Forget the Human Factor

By Katherine Spencer Lee

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If your organization is examining when, or even if, you'll deploy Microsoft’s new Vista operating system, there are doubtless numerous technical considerations to review. And while issues like application and hardware compatibility may be top of mind, it’s just as critical to determine the personnel requirements of any operating system change.

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Your ability to make a smooth transition to Vista is contingent upon the capabilities of your employees. If you don’t have sufficient staff or if they lack the necessary expertise, you are virtually guaranteed to encounter difficulties. So, how can you make sure your organization is well prepared?

Determine Capabilities

Start by conducting a thorough assessment of your staffing situation. Key questions to consider include: ·

  • Can your in-house staff deploy Vista effectively while managing existing responsibilities? What are their current workloads and do you anticipate upcoming spikes in activity? ·
  • What types of skills will be needed? ·
  • How long do you expect the rollout to take?
  • What type of ongoing support and maintenance issues will a Vista environment introduce?

    The precise number of employees needed during this time will vary greatly depending on the size of the current IT team and the number of users who are transitioning to Vista. A good starting point when forming your strategy is to review your experience implementing earlier operating systems such as Windows 2000 or XP and add in a buffer.

    Vista is expected to require more work than prior systems due to the long wait between Windows releases and Vista’s heightened capabilities and unique user interface changes. For a collection of Vista deployment tools, including a step-by-step guide, from Microsoft, click here.

    Consider Support

    Deploying a new operating system to an entire organization will change the way your IT department functions. For instance, you may have employees devoting extensive time to testing application compatibility in pilot programs before rolling out Vista or making changes to the network infrastructure. Who will manage their everyday responsibilities in the meantime?

    Executives, managers and employees will hold the same expectations as they did before IT staff resources were funneled to these efforts: When people at your firm need technical guidance or assistance, they will expect an immediate response from your group.


    Another key component to your human resources plan should be training. Your help desk staff, in particular, must be experts with Vista to field whatever questions may come their way after the rollout. They need to be familiar with not only the features of the operating system but also the intricacies of how Vista might interact with your firm’s other applications.

    There are a number of ways to effectively train employees in your department. Setting up a test environment before your deployment to give support staff hands-on time with Vista can be a wise investment. Traditional training methods, such as seminars, online courses, classes and certifications, also are worth considering for business workers and IT professionals alike.

  • Users will expect ongoing information from your team about how they will be affected by the Vista initiative. As a leader, you will play a key role in communicating the details to employees in the organization, but your staff will be on the front lines as events unfold every day. Training becomes essential as your IT group advocates the benefits of Vista to users and addresses any concerns. For Vista support and Community Resources, click here.

    Any technology rollout is going to present its share of challenges. By taking the time to get your staffing and training strategies in place before your Vista deployment is underway, you’ll ensure you have the necessary infrastructure to make the project a success.

    Katherine Spencer Lee is executive director of Robert Half Technology, a provider of IT professionals for initiatives ranging from e-business development and multi-platform systems integration to network engineering and technical support. Robert Half Technology has more than 100 locations in the North America and Europe, and offers online job search services at www.rht.com.