Whilst helping to fill in an RFP questionnaire at another large SAP customer that is currently going through its internal procurement process to buy our DevOps Toolset, one of the questions that came up was something I’ve been asked a number of times during pre-sales conversations…
“What are your 3 main lessons learned from previous implementations?”
This really got me thinking. Considering the huge impact they can make, products like ActiveControl are remarkably straightforward to implement. There’s no doubt that some projects do run more smoothly than others, though.
Having worked for Basis Technologies for a few years now, and got a sizable number of ActiveControl implementations under my belt, I can generally tell in the first few hours of commencing a new implementation project if it’s going to be one of the few that require a bit more care and attention.
Sometimes it is the really small things, like having a desk and guest wifi ready for me when I arrive on site. Mostly it’s because of the way our new customers ‘perform’ in three key aspects of an ActiveControl project. I thought I would share them here to give some insight into the perspective of a software vendor (and maybe give future ActiveControl customers some pointers on the quickest way to get up and running). No doubt there are some parallels with other software packages!
1. The customer should involve all key stakeholders in Design and Testing as early as possible
Just like in any IT project, engaging all the key stakeholders throughout an ActiveControl implementation project, and particularly during the initial Design and Testing phases helps to ensure early buy-in to the tool, generally resulting in a much smoother go-live.
Those stakeholders also need to be given the breathing space to engage with the process and absorb the relevant information. There’s no point sending people on a training course if they’re expected to carry on doing a normal day’s work! It is perhaps no great surprise that ActiveControl users who take the time to understand the new process or the toolset beforehand experience the fewest issues when everything’s live.
2. Pre-mobilisation of resources on the customer side is very important to ensure a timely implementation
Unlike many software implementations, ActiveControl roll-outs are typically very quick (2 – 6 weeks depending on a customer’s intended scope and complexity). The ability to get up and running fast is a real benefit, but it highlights the need to ensure that all stakeholders are readily available during the project.
Perhaps this means not planning a ActiveControl implementation during a holiday period. Or at the time when resources are likely to be busy on other work such as a large SAP project go-live etc. It’s frustrating for both the customer and the Basis Technologies team when a ActiveControl implementation has to go on-hold for several weeks (or longer) because key stakeholders aren’t available. Prior preparation and planning, and all that…
I have just finished an implementation in Belgium where the customer’s Basis resources were absolutely superb. In the end we managed to only spend ~75% of the consulting days that we originally estimated would be required to get the customer live with our DevOps toolset, basically because of the customer’s team’s impressive internal delivery. The team showed just how easy ActiveControl is to manage: the Admin’s did most of the technical configuration themselves, the Functional and Development Leads trained their own teams themselves and the project manager made sure all the key activities were completed on time. Those are the sorts of customer resources that can make the difference between a short project and a project that drags on far longer than it needs to.
3. The ActiveControl Administrator is an absolutely critical role
All ActiveControl customers have to assign an administrator to maintain the product after go-live. At most customers this is usually 2-3 Basis or Change & Release resources.
A customer’s designated ActiveControl Administrator(s) take a leading role during the entire implementation project so it’s critical for them to be available and involved when the Basis Technologies team are onsite.
It’s pretty easy to tell which administrators are going to be able to deliver the successful implementations of ActiveControl. They’re the ones that have completed the prerequisite steps I emailed them a couple of weeks before going onsite. They get actively involved during the technical setup of the tool whilst I am there. They make sure they don’t get side-tracked by their day-to-day job.
These might sound like obvious things, but some just companies could make software installations a lot smoother if they just help the supplier with this kind of stuff.
To use the example of the ActiveControl customer in Brussels again, they took the lead on the entire technical setup, did lots of testing and configuration fine-tuning when I wasn’t on site, and in all honesty forced me to raise my own game by asking me lots of questions.
Challenging, proactive and in the end, effective: those are the sorts of admins I enjoy working with the most. The ones that make sure that ActiveControl is going to work for their organization, take on board Basis Technologies’ recommendations based on our experiences at other SAP customers, and raise lots of good enhancement ideas of how the product can be made even better.
Overall, there is nothing that satisfies me more in my job than turning up for an SAP customer to kick off a new ActiveControl implementation, and then saying goodbye to them a few short weeks later with ActiveControl fully operational on their landscape, the new toolset and associated processes already bedded in and understood, and the admins completely self-sufficient and able to support and administer the toolset themselves without further involvement from Basis Technologies.
This is all absolutely possible with the #1 DevOps tool for SAP.
If you want to learn more about ActiveControl or see it in action, book a demo.