A Real Project in Real Time – We’re Live!

Written April 29th, 2009 by
Categories: CEO's Blog
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Exactly four weeks after we signed our contract with Blount, we just published their production SAP Integrated B2B sellside eCommerce website! The next couple of days will be spent shaking down the system and inviting customers to the official Beta program which starts on Friday.

The last 30 days saw over sixteen people in our two organizations collaborate to:

  • setup the infrastructure and integration between our service and Blount’s QA and Production SAP systems.
  • execute three successful Focus Groups
  • produce over 70 change requests that were all dealt with
  • complete over 55 documented tasks (as tracked in our Central Desktop project portal)
  • register over 200 visits, 4000 pageviews, 53 hours on the site, and 130 completed tests (goals).
  • log 30 issues of which all but two are closed
  • uncover several high value feature requests that are being considered for the next release

Overall, I’d say this is the new high water mark for our implementation projects!  What made it successful?  I think the following are keys to success:

  1. The project had a crisp goal.  We were going to GoLive in 30 days with two Distributors being able to track and investigate orders and invoices.  Period.  End of discussion.
  2. Strong Executive sponsorship and Project Management. Barry Brunetto’s (Blount’s VP of IT) personal commitment and leadership
    was critical.  No doubt about it!  People take cues from their leader’s actions…not just
    their words.  Barry made (and continues to make) sure that this project gets the attention
    and resources that it requires.  Of the 22 registered visitors to the QA website, Barry is tied for the third most frequent visitor. My userid is first (but it’s shared by a few people :-)).
  3. A well defined process. Our Milestone plan of 3 weekly iterations, that culminated in Friday Focus Groups, provided enough structure to the project to keep everyone on track.  It also quickly highlighted where we were straying off track, which was probably more useful :-).
  4. Our service is architected very well.  It anticipates many of the requirements uncovered and when it doesn’t, it is very quick to accommodate local customizations.  (Maybe I can get Adrian to write about how we developed a solution to the large Packing List pdf that was too big to be downloaded from our website :-))
  5. High quality resources.  Both parties contributed their “A” team.  Everyone knew their stuff and stayed focus on the goal.
  6. An Agile attitude. These projects really are akin to an exploration.  A journey where the two parties are traveling together and have to do an awful lot of quick learning and reacting along the way.  Recognizing that issues uncovered aren’t obstacles, but opportunities to get closer to the goal, is very important.  Sorting out what is critical for GoLive versus nice to have protects the project’s scope.  Finallly, trusting each other’s intentions, but only believing what is demonstrable, helps keep everyone honest.

What could we do better next time?  Honestly, I’m not sure.  I’ll ask the other team members when we conduct a formal retrospective.

It’s now off to Europe next week to kick off the next Phase of this project.

Sam