Step 3: Test
Continuing in our five part series on how to effectively deploy technology at your firm, we're on to step 3: Test. If you missed the previous posts, you can start from the beginning right HERE.
As the project team follows, communicates, and executes the plan, it's critical that ongoing testing takes place to ensure the key components of the overall configuration are interacting as expected. This is especially true with the individual workstation configurations and potential variability across different environments within the firm and applications used outside of the office. The goal of testing is to avoid surprises and preempt sticking points as the project begins to get off the ground.
Configuration Testing – With many large firm technology deployments, some of the configuration decisions and settings will be done or executed by a third party consulting company or possibly with vendor involvement. It's important that the project team tests the logic and functionality behind every decision to deviate from the standard way the technology is intended to work. You may find that configuration decisions looked good in theory but in actuality don't align correctly with the business process.
Does it Play Nicely with Others? – Most technology does not live in a silo, which means the team needs to test how the new technology interacts with other applications across the firm, departments and even individuals. As with many mission critical applications, there are pieces of software and integrating components that are vital to the business and critical that they continue working together as expected.
Proof of Concept (POC) – We mentioned in the last post the importance of creating a power users group to aid in the deployment and communication feedback loop. In addition to disseminating information across the firm, the power users group will play a core role of piloting the new technology well before full scale deployment across the firm. The purpose of the POC is quite self-explanatory – prove that the technology works as advertised, especially as it relates to the firm's overall environment and technology landscape.
The Feedback Loop – Through the testing process, Step 2: Communication, becomes the means to get information back to the project team for potential recalibration, adjustments, and refinements to the project plan. This constant feedback loop should be through structured meetings set specifically to talk about the testing, POC, and other information across the team and power users group. These feedback meetings can be daily or weekly depending on the project plan and technology, but regardless of frequency, don't let these sessions to share what the team is learning slip through the cracks.
In summary, when the firm decides to move forward with a new technology, the decision making processes may be completed, but the feasibility testing is just getting started. Testing the third party integrations and unique workstation configurations, launching a POC, as well as putting a feedback loop in place is all part of the testing portion to avoid surprises and road blocks when the rubber really meets the road with firm-wide deployment.
The next post in this series will be Step 4: Deployment Approach and Resource Availability