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I was on a Teams call, a project board meeting, a few days ago, with a big site (19k home ALMO), that had just gone live, after a Big Bang implementation. It went to planned timings, enables their old HMS to be switched out saving annual maintenance as planned and was pretty much to expected budget. I have found them a fabulous site to work with, over a couple of years.
I have been involved with this project right from initial look at the pre-market, procurement, contract finalisation and critical friend during the boots on the ground phase. We have had some challenges, which were all overcome, with the internal project and management team working hard with the system supplier, who also resourced everything well.
As with any site doing a Big Bang (and I have experience of 20 or more), there is always doubt, is this the right time, should we test a bit more etc, etc. At some point though, when the red line & high issues on the RAID log have been knocked on the head, someone has to bite the bullet and go for it. It’s always a difficult call for management, I know. That’s where I think I certainly add value, in bringing some realism to the table, or pressing supplier harder for actual, rather than promised bug/issue fixes.
So what could be learned from this particular go-live? A go-live in a Covid19 world of remote working, can be more challenging than most. Notwithstanding doing training remotely etc.
Well, a few people thought “We should have done more testing and more from end-users”. This is a perennial point in all go-lives I find. Test to death, as practically as you can. Each hour testing prior, will save twenty times that, after go-live. I have been involved in projects where go-live day almost went without serious incident and users remarking to me, “Wow that went so smoothly, we wasted time on all that testing!”. That does miss the point somewhat and most sites that test properly, thankfully never experience a lot of the actual horror stories out there. Devote as much time as you can to testing, before ever committing to go-live.
Another area was a few loose ends with reports. These are often in the gift of your internal team, occasionally for your supplier to develop. Check and double check you can monitor all your processes and are not losing anything you rely on currently.
Go-live, as I have said on many occasions, is only the first stop on a long journey with a new system. It should not be confused with the final destination. Issues and snagging coming out of go-live need to be collated methodically and users made aware of progress being made, even if their particular teams issue is taking a little longer to be addressed. There is a need here for comms to be wrapped around the messaging here. Keeping users and managers aware of progress being made and next steps in how the dust is going to settle over the next month or so, is crucial to keeping everyone motivated and on-board.
Later that week I was chatting with a system supplier about that go-live and they asked, “How much did they go live with?”. They were a tad surprised when I answered, “Everything we set out to, ie Rents, repairs, CRM, case management, workflow, self-service etc. I don’t mess about”. Inevitably, the conversation moved to how a lot of sites end up de-scoping, sometimes to the point they put something like just Assets or Choice based Lettings in, when they are replacing an HMS and declare themselves ‘Live’. I don’t know if the users or the supplier is fooling or being fooled on those, but its certainly a subject I need to revisit, in a future blogpost!
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(c) Tony Smith, Acutance Consulting www.acutanceconsulting.co.uk 07854-655009
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