Sunday, July 12, 2009

The joy and pain of rolling out a new business system

As three months in Mexico City draw to a close, the business process management (BPM) based system we've been building is heading for production. Not wanting to risk jinxing it (so there is a lot of wood touching happening here), I am trying to avoid saying that it may possibly, if the stars align, be on time and to budget. Technolab and the large multinational insurance company that we have been working for should be proud, as even if we do see a last minute hiccup, the teamwork and desire to get the job done has been incredible. So, that's the joy over with. What about the pain?

The pain (at least for me) comes from the uncertainty; the last minute unexpected mishaps; the possibility that the production servers just won't run right; the fear that integration with the system of record is just not the same for production as in dev and test; the fact that I'll have to perfect meditation to try and sleep without my brain going over every last detail (again). Dreaming software is not fun or relaxing. Especially not dreaming it in a foreign language!

But its just an application, right? And its been tested?... Of course.

Its the fact that the system touches the working lives of practically every skilled worker from sales, through underwriting, to policy issuance and accounts receivables. If the system screws up (like throws every item of work into an error state) for some unforeseen and therefore untested reason, there's going to be a lot of people sat on their backsides drinking coffee and waiting. That would not be the ROI that we all hope for. But its not just this project. For me, every system I've deployed (more successes than mishaps, it has to be said) leads to this mix of adrenalin and some other unknown compound (probably caffeine).

So for now, all I can do is keep on using the revolving brain, mentally touching and prodding every last piece of the processes and applications, to satisfy myself that everything is good. Reality is, its been good for a while. We have settled, just in time, into the essential phase of stabilization and risk reduction. So I'm ready for some joy on Friday. Just a little. Seeing the first users successfully login and start working full time, full on, with their new system. If so, you could see a deliriously happy post from me at the end of the week. Please keep your fingers crossed! Mine are, and its making it difficult to type.

A post from the Improving It blog

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