Why Conference Room Pilots are an Important Step in Your Software Implementation
What is a Conference Room Pilot during a software implementation? Conference Room Pilots (CRP) come towards the end of the Create Phase in the Stoneridge Proven Process after multiple Joint Process Designs, where we continually gather requirements and present solutions based on those requirements. During CRP, the project is wrapping up all requirement gathering and nearly all custom development will be complete. This is the last chance to make design suggestions before the system is complete for User Acceptance Testing (UAT) and Go-Live.
Who Participates in a CRP?
The CRP is administered by the functional consultant with help from a technical consultant or developer, who make sure the environment or environments are ready for use. The functional consultants walk the users through the steps they should follow during a system pilot, and then set them free to start going through the system. During this time, any major issues in the system and design fixes should be noted, as there is still time after CRP to make changes. It is important that changes are mentioned during this time to be sure they can be considered before UAT.
What is covered in a CRP?
There are separate CRPs for each organization process that is in scope during the implementation. For example, ‘Quote to Cash' may include sales team members, warehouse staff, and accountants, who participate in the process. ‘Hire to Retire’ may include various members of the human resources team depending on how the onboarding tasks are distributed. The purpose of having a CRP for each process is to make it through the system end-to-end in a way that makes sense for those involved in each process. For each CRP, there will be a different group of users involved.
What Data is Used during a CRP?
Usually, the data migration process is not complete by CRP, but that is nothing to worry about. We typically use a sampling of client data that is representative of data in production. Users can add additional customer data into the new system to try to complete current processes during CRP. The full dataset is usually used during UAT, so do not be concerned if there are only a handful of clients during CRP.
What Do We Hope to Accomplish in a CRP?
The goal of CRP is to deliver a flawless, first-time look at the new system. However, since this is usually the first time that the process is put together from end to end, flawless CRPs are uncommon. Ensuring the handoff between sales and warehouse or purchasing and accounting works as planned. During CRP, we strive to target any last-minute design changes necessary and/or schedule the final customization projects for the development team. Finding the necessary changes in the system before you head into the deployment phase of the project is vital to ensure a project is deployed on time.
What happens after a CRP?
We review design feedback and schedule any re-configuration or new development work right away. Once that is all complete and the environment is code complete, you move to the deployment phase of the project.
What Happens if You Find Problems in CRP?
That is to be expected; you can start to identify bugs if you find them during the process but you’re mostly on the lookout for design changes. You will still have a little bit of time to change your designs before they are set in stone, so you’ll want to make those adjustments at this time. If you must radically rethink a process, your timeline may be at risk, so let’s hope that doesn’t happen.
What are the Differences between CRP & UAT?
They look and are very similar. In both cases, you’re testing the process end-to-end with the project team and subject matter experts in the system. The difference is the CRP happens during the create phase where you can still make some fundamental changes to the system if necessary whereas the UAT is during deployment where your primary aim is to validate the system and raise any bugs you find. In both cases, it’s good to try to break the system to expose any potential issues that an end user might encounter in production. As mentioned in the data section, the CRP data is typically a sampling of the client data whereas the UAT is the full client dataset.
Is CRP Important?
CRP can often be considered an optional part of the implementation and we are not asked to do it every time. We encourage clients to build it into the project plan as it accomplishes some important objectives regarding the health of the project. For the following three reasons, we hope you consider this valuable part of the implementation process and should be part of your next project.
- It gives the team a chance to practice the end-to-end process and provide feedback.
- It helps with usability to have the team review the solution while there is still development time.
- It raises the team’s confidence if they have the chance to test the system before UAT starts.