Ok, so you’ve made the leap and committed to a new technology solution. The PO is cut, the project team is assembled, and some shiny new hardware is on the way. Now how do you make sure this endeavor is a success and avoid some of the common pitfalls of technology implementation projects? For fun, here are 5 movies to think of the next time you’re headed down that road.
1) Great Expectations – The first step to any successful project kick-off is aligning the expectations of everyone involved. This not only applies to aligning yourself with vendors, partners, and contractors, but also your internal team. Different departments and individuals can go into the same project with very different, and sometimes competing, goals and expectations. Getting all of those out in the open is essential to coming up with a plan that will satisfy all those involved and unify everyone’s efforts. That way, when you get to the end everyone is happy with the results and nobody is left disappointed by the experience.
2) Mission: Impossible – How did IMF Agent Ethan Hunt pull off his impressive capers? Through careful planning and coordination. Those life-like masks and forged identity documents didn’t make themselves. The lesson? Be prepared. Have all of your pre-requisites identified and ready to go by the project start date. Clearly define the roles of everyone on the project team, so that each person know what their responsibility is. And most importantly, communicate early and often. A quality project manager makes sure these and other important guidelines are followed and helps keep everyone on the same page. Our own IMF Agents at the Data Blue Project Management Office are ready and willing to take on this role and make sure your next technology project is a success.
3) There Will Be Blood – Well, hopefully not real blood (though rack rails can be sharp), but for most projects there will be some sort of downtime or outage window required, especially if a hardware or system upgrade/refresh is involved. This isn’t the end of the world, but something that will need to be considered when putting together the project plan and timeline. If your system can only be taken offline once a month for a few hours, then it might take several cycles to complete any kind of hardware cutover. If you’re implementing a new backup solution, that might involve system reboots to install new client software. Maybe a pre-requisite network configuration is needed that can only be implemented on the third Thursday of every quarter pushes back the project start date. Identifying these key touch points up front and planning and communicating accordingly will help you keep realistic timelines that can be delivered upon as promised.
4) Edge of Tomorrow – Cutting edge technology is great, but not for everyone. Do you really want the latest and greatest hardware model or software version that just came out three weeks ago? Maybe a newly released feature meets a definitive business need, so that answer is yes. Here are just a few things to consider in that case: 1) It might not work perfectly right away: New technology hasn’t been tested in every single use case yet, so there may be some kinks to work out. Patience on the part of everyone involved is key to riding out the initial deployment phase until the new environment is tuned appropriately. 2) Even the experts might not have the answers at first: all of us Data Blue Implementation Engineers are trained and certified in the products we deliver, but even we sometimes have to say “I don’t know, but I will find out or figure it out”. When dealing with new technology, often the problems or questions encountered are new and some digging is required to get to the bottom of an issue. Maybe that means experimentation and testing, or bringing in vendor support, but our experienced staff doesn’t give up until the right solution is found.
5) Jurassic World – Wait, haven’t we seen this script before? Simon Misrani “spared no expense “ on his new version of Jurassic Park, but still didn’t learn the real lessons from his predecessor: you can spend all the money you want on technology, but you’re still only as good as your people and your decision making. Assembling the right team is of utmost importance, and sometimes that means going outside your own organization and finding a partner with the ability to guide you through the implementation process. You’ll know you’ve found the right team when they’re ready and willing to lend technical expertise and a wealth of experience to help you avoid repeating your own past mistakes, as well as the mistakes of others, and put the right technology to work in the right way for your company.
Enjoy the rest of this year’s movies (I’m particularly looking forward to this one) and I hope to see you in the datacenter soon!
Mike Fraedrich, Engineer