Throughout the project we conducted a series of training sessions with ESNZ’s team to ensure they knew their way around the new system. It can be a difficult part of the project as nobody particularly likes coming to grips with a completely new way of working, but nonetheless the ESNZ team were up for the challenge! Software can be a bit like that: you get used to working with a system over a period of years, and even if the new system is vastly more powerful, faster, and easier to use, it’s still something new you have to get your head around. Some people love new things, others are resistant to change, so we needed to devote time to making sure everyone was happy.
We used an agile approach of rolling out iterative versions for each round of testing, which worked really well, but in a project as complex as this, we also found that this sometimes led to unforeseen consequences in other parts of the system. As the project unfolded and the ESNZ team started testing the system, we experienced many challenges and next time we do a project of this size and complexity we will implement a much more structured change request process, as well as a more comprehensive testing and implementation process to make it easier for admins and end users to report defects.
We now have a policy to implement a change request process at the beginning of the project, to plan database imports more thoroughly earlier in the process, and to make more allowance for monthly face-to-face meetings, as regular, in-depth communication is absolutely vital for projects of this nature.