Secondary School Arbor Discovery

  1. Overview
  2. Who should come to a Discovery session
  3. Implementation Plan
  4. Roles & responsibilities 
  5. School objectives and vision
  6. Project governances & change management
  7. Data migration/third party applications & training
  8. How to track progress


The Project Discovery meeting is a great opportunity for your Project Manager to gather information about your school so they are able to better understand the vision/goals and scope of the project. 

You might have discussed the ‘why’ you want to move to a new MIS with your Partnership Manager when you begin your journey choosing your new MIS but the Discovery session is to better understand ‘how’ we are going to achieve these aims.

The ultimate goal of the Discovery meeting is to:

  • Create a shared success plan that details how we are going to achieve your objectives.
  • Ensure all stakeholders in the project are aware of their roles and responsibilities
  • Give your school as much information as possible to help them drive change through their organisation. 

Who should come to a Discovery Meeting

The Discovery meeting is a great opportunity to ensure that all key stakeholders involved in the project are aligned on the main objectives/scope of the project and how we’re going to achieve this. With this in mind, it is important that you bring along as many key stakeholders as possible.

We know that time is limited in a busy school environment but ideally, as a minimum, you should look to invite the following people to this session:

  • Project Lead
  • Executive Sponsor
  • Data/IT Manager
  • Any key Arbor Champions

Discovery Session Format

The Discovery Session is designed to guide you through the entire lifecycle of the project and ensure all key stakeholders have the tools needed to ensure the project is a success.

With this in mind, the Discovery Session will take the following format:


You should have met your Project Manager at your Handover meeting before the implementation began. This is an opportunity for all key stakeholders across the school to meet your Arbor Project Manager and to understand a little about their background. 

Implementation Plan

An essential part of the Discovery session is to go through the implementation plan that your Arbor Project Manager has put together based on your requirements that were discussed with your Partnership Manager. 

Your Project Manager will guide you through a week-by-week, detailed overview of the implementation which will include the following:

  • When data migration activities should take place, such as data migration backup
  • Training
  • The plan for the rollout of functionality 
  • How, when and which third party applications are transferred onto Arbor.

Roles & Responsibilities

The Arbor Team

Here, you will learn about the different people you will interact with at Arbor and their roles and responsibilities. The four main teams you will work with include:

  • The Projects Team: This is your Project Manager who is responsible for the implementation project and any questions & queries related to data migration or strategic roll-out plan.
  • The Training Team: These are the software trainers who will ensure your team are fully trained on Arbor. They will execute the training plan which is agreed based on this Discovery session. 
  • The Accounts Team: This is your Account Manager who is responsible for the commercial relationship. They will be who you speak to if you wish to purchase more training/services. 
  • The Customer Team: This team provides first-line and second-line support to your school. They are there to answer all your day-to-day queries on Arbor, ensuring high levels of responsiveness.   
Your Project Team

During this session, you will go through the roles and responsibilities that you should look to install across the school. We go through this in more detail here but this is a quick breakdown:

  • School Project Lead: Main point of contact for the project. Good knowledge of your school’s processes and workflows and ensuring onboarding remains on track. 
  • Executive Sponsor: Sets high-level vision, success criteria and evaluates with Arbor Project Manager against shared success plans. Normally the headteacher or a member of SLT. 
  • Data and IT Support: Authority on data, has the ability to manage your school’s data transfer to Arbor and integrations with the third-party applications.
  • Arbor Champions: Subject area expertise, change manager, ability to customise Arbor as required and to act as an Arbor advocate with new users.

It is important that you start thinking about who will do these roles at the very start of the implementation. At the end of this session. You should know who will be responsible for each role and how you will communicate with each other.


School Objectives & Vision

As discussed earlier, You might have discussed the ‘why’ you want to move to a new MIS with your Partnership Manager but we need to better understand ‘how’ we are going to achieve these aims.

The first thing we need to look at is your operational objectives. We break this session down into three categories:

Day one operations

This would usually be ensuring that the data has migrated successfully onto Arbor. An example of the functionality that schools usually look to have up and running from day one include: 

    1. Attendance registers
    2. Communications
    3. Emergency Procedures
    4. Track Behaviour Incidents
    5. Accessing School Timetable
    6. Staff Absence & Cover   
Priority operations

These are the operations that link to your school’s priority objectives. We will work with you to plan how we will get these up and running on Arbor once you have decided what is a priority for your school. Examples of priority functionality usually include:

    1. Assessments
    2. Behaviour Workflows
    3. Interventions
    4. Exams
    5. Parent Portal
Long Term Goals

These goals link to your school’s strategic aims/vision. Your Project Manager will want to understand these goals so they can better support you going forward. Examples of long term goals include:

    1. Consolidating systems
    2. Aligning policies across teams
    3. Improving reporting & data quality



Your school may have different priorities to the above. The goal of this session is to understand what your vision/priorities are and then to plan your implementation around these goals.

Project Governance & Change Management

Change Management

Arbor are experts when it comes to implementing successful change projects across schools. How schools approach change can have a serious impact on the ultimate project success. 

Typically with any change in processes/systems, after the initial awareness, users can end up getting frustrated, especially if they have been used to the same processes for numerous years. 

Once they are over this phase, users will start to explore and grow on their new system. It takes time to get to this point, but you, as Project Lead, can take steps to speed up this process and flatten the ‘change curve’.

Your Project manager will guide you through our best practice methods for managing a successful change project. These include:

  • Why: Understand why your school is making this change. What are the benefits? Make sure that the drivers for and expected benefits of change are clearly communicated and understood by staff. This helps to ensure they will support, rather than resist, the change. 
  • When: Communicate when the change will take place. Make sure that all key dates (e.g. training sessions, Go-Live Date) are communicated to relevant staff, and that they understand why those dates have been picked. 
  • Who: Do all stakeholders know who this change will affect? Identify which staff will be affected by the change, and how it will affect them. What training, information and support does each individual need to successfully make the change? 
  • How: Understand how you will keep your team informed and involved. Make sure you have a plan for communicating with staff about the change and keeping them engaged. Perhaps regular meetings and email updates, or a standing agenda item at staff meetings to update on progress.   
Risk Management

Risk management is critical to the success of the implementation of Arbor at your school, your long term and school adoption of Arbor. A risk is a potential for something (good or bad) to affect the project outside of what was originally in scope. For the purposes of this implementation, we want to ensure that we mitigate the bad risks before they become issues. 

  • An example of a risk is being unable to get a full backup of data to migrate to Arbor. This has the potential to become an issue which could result in poor data quality. 

At the end of this session, you will understand the approach Arbor use to manage risk within this implementation including:

  • Identification: How do we identify risk and what should we do once a risk has been identified.
  • Analysis & Evaluation: How to we analyse the risk and evaluate the potential impact.
  • Risk Review: How we review the status of the risk and ensure that this has successfully been mitigated. 
  • Roles & Responsibilities: Who is responsible for the mitigation and who owns the risk. 
Controlling Change

Change is anything that is out of scope to what has been agreed during this Discovery Session. Change in a project is inevitable. You can’t possibly know every eventuality at the start of a large implementation project. As well as this, school priorities and objectives change over time.

Examples of change include:

  • Needing to Go Live with the Parent Portal earlier than anticipated
  • Changing your Assessment framework due to MAT requirements

It’s important to note that Arbor’s implementation approach is flexible to change, and we will ensure that every request to change the scope of a project is investigated together before a decision is made.

At the end of this session, you will understand the approach Arbor uses to manage change within this implementation including:

  • Raising: How to identify and raise a request for a change to Arbor.
  • Assessing: Who needs to be involved in assessing the impact of the change. 
  • Decision: How a decision is made and who are the decision-makers.
  • Implementation: How the change is implemented. 

It is important to note that change can have positive or negative consequences for your timeframes. It is important that any change is communicated as quickly as possible.

Data Migration/Third Party Applications and Training

Data Migration

Arbor has migrated over 1000 schools with a whopping 18,000 data set translations. We know what a successful migration looks like, but more importantly, what a bad one looks like. 

We want to ensure that you are set up for success from day one so it is important that all your data is cleansed and checked before your Go-Live. 

At the end of this session, you will understand the five steps to a successful migration including:

  • School data cleansing
  • School data backups and how to upload your data.
  • School data checking
  • School-wide release
  • Setup and configuration of modules. 

Arbor will migrate your data three times. Two of these will be test migrations where you can thoroughly check your data for any issues. Your Arbor champions can test, train and build confidence with their own data before we migrate a final time. 

There will be things we cannot migrate due to how the system you are moving from, and Arbor, are designed. It is important that you understand what does, and does not migrate, and ensure that you are confident with the quality, and quantity of the data migrated. 

Third-Party Applications

During this session, we will go through, based on your objectives/vision, which third party apps you are going to continue using on Arbor, and which you are going to transition away from. It is important to start letting your third-party software suppliers know that you are changing MIS as soon as possible.

We will provide access to a School Systems Audit which you can use to help you to decide which third-party applications you would like to keep and which you could replace with your Arbor MIS.

There are lots of different API’s available to your school including Wonde, Groupcall, Parentpay, CPOMMS, LGFL.

For more information see this guide: Setting up and managing third-party API integrations in Arbor


Based on your objectives/vision and priorities; you will discuss how best to coordinate your purchased training and services. At the end of this session, you will know what training sessions are taking place and when. You will look at potential dates for this training to take place. 

Don’t worry, you don’t need to confirm anything on this session, but it’s a good idea to come to this session with a few days in your mind when you could fit in some training. 


How to track progress

Your Project Manager will guide you through your Implementation Workbook. This is a tool that you can use to help you track your overall progress of the project. The Implementation workbook will include:

  • Implementation Plan: A step-by-step plan so that you can keep track of the project.
  • Roles and Responsibilities: Names and contact details of the Project Team, including the Arbor Champions.
  • School Systems Audit: Used to help you decide which applications will be kept after your move to Arbor and to find out what kind of integration is needed for each.
  • Training Plan: Used to keep track of your training needs, with planned dates and links to agendas.
  • Data Checks and Data Counts: These two tabs are used to help you to make sure that your migrated data is complete and accurate.
  • School Risk Management Tracker: Any risks or concerns will be recorded here.
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