How can you manage the unexpected in a systems implementation?


Users trained for system launch


Project sites coordinated throughout implementation and launch


Research management system launched on time and on budget

A consultant with deep sector knowledge and broad technology experience can be a safety net to help you manage through disruptions.

The Ontario Brain Institute (OBI) is a provincially funded not-for-profit research organization that accelerates discovery and innovation, benefiting both patients and the economy. They chose to implement a new research management system using SmartSimple, in order to more effectively collaborate with their partner organizations and measure impact. When Grantbook met OBI, they were in the middle of their implementation and had run into the following challenges:

  • Unexpected turnover in key implementation project team members
  • First-time implementation for some team members
  • Learning while testing against a tight timeline

In engaging with us they were hoping to obtain build support, including end-to-end testing of the system, and to obtain change management support by leading the soft and hard launches of the system.

Bringing our knowledge of SmartSimple, deep experience in managing over 60+ system implementations, and our human-centred philosophy, we were able to help OBI though three key strategies:

Assist in system testing

To help fill any knowledge gaps and time constraints due to staff turnover, we used the following activities to identify missed errors and streamline staff testing:

  • Structuring user (team member) testing by providing direction and guided sessions
  • Conduct deep testing on their behalf, looking for pitfalls and SmartSimple build configuration that didn’t quite meet OBI’s standards

Support systems implementation

When you don’t know a system deeply, it can be hard to provide advice to your implementation partner to help them meet business needs. In order to help narrow this gap, we worked with OBI and SmartSimple to:

  • Solve configuration challenges by actively reconfiguring the system in a coordinated approach with the implementation partner
  • Provide guidance on how to import legacy data
  • Support the team with bugs and fixes after launch

Planning for system launch

A well supported and communicated launch is critical for change management and early impression of the new system. To help ensure a smooth go-live, we helped OBI by:

  • Designing training curriculum and materials and conducting live user training sessions
  • Developing and executing a launch plan by mapping out stakeholders 
  • Planning a rollout strategy for each group


With Grantbook alongside for their implementation of SmartSimple, OBI had access to an expert ally to fill knowledge and resource gaps and ensure OBI hit their system launch date on time, on budget and with stakeholder goodwill—no easy feat given the project’s initial constraints. 

As reported in our follow-up survey to internal and external stakeholders, these are three key ways Grantbook drove project success:

  • By increasing stakeholder confidence in the system to improve efficiency
  • By ensuring everyone’s responsibilities on the project felt manageable
  • Through the improved flow of communication during the project

High confidence, clear roles, and a good execution plan—paired with clear communication—are fundamental to any change and can dramatically improve both the success of the implementation itself and the ongoing adoption of the system. We’ll be checking back soon to see how OBI is faring in its newly implemented SmartSimple!