Richar C. Cushing
So here we are, delivering Windows 7 and Office 2010 to Nexsen Pruet's second remote office in as many weeks. But first, a little background. First of all, I had not blogged about this project before because I have been in and out of it and my role has been changing. I have been primarily responsible for testing a few applications under my area to ensure functionality in the new environment. However, this week I am the on-site Operations Manager, which could translate into the on-site Project Manager/Do-What-Needs-To-Be-Done Guy (and everyone in the team really does what needs to be done anyway). I am responsible for making sure that the deployments are completed and that issues are addressed and compiled in a central place so that we can go over those before our next deployment. Finally, I'd like to add that this project started very early this year and there have been many phases. We started with brainstorming around January/February, to then go over a Branding phase in March/April. Around April, we began testing our many legal specific applications used by our Attorneys; to then begin creating and fine tuning images. It took until early August and 9-10 versions to get the right image. Developing the outstanding training material took a few months as well and delivering training started in July with Technology Department members first, and then to our pilot group. Last week we deployed the new desktop to our Myrtle Beach, SC office. This week is Hilton Head Island, SC's office turn. The best part of the project? EVERYONE in our department has had an impact, all of the eighteen people that conform our team, including temporary personnel has indeed contributed in a positive way, just as our very supportive and knowledgeable vendors have. But this is about the deployment phase, "The Real Deal". Let's take a look.
A team of six departed Sunday afternoon from Columbia, SC to our Hilton Head Island office. This team includes our Service Desk & Training Manager who oversees the delivery of training as well as floor support; the Operations Manager, who oversees the deployment of the images as well as the many applications and customizations required by each end-user as well as issues logging, one deployment engineer, one hardware and deployment technician and this time, our Director of Technology made the trip to compliment the team and contribute where needed. In addition, twelve others remain at our main office in Columbia holding the fort. Last but not least, I am proud to say that this is The Best Team and Technology Department I have been part of during my 12+ years career.
Day 1. Setup and Deployment
The team got in the office by 6:00 pm and by 8:00 pm the "Technology Operations Center", the Training Room and the temporary Video Conference room were all setup and tested. I have to admit that I thought that we had too many people, but boy was I glad we did! It did paid off. I was amazed of how well and quickly we worked together. This gave the training team the opportunity to go rest at the hotel to prepare for next day's class with staff.
Once everything was setup the deployment team started deployment of images to staff machines and we quickly ran into an issue. We are using Microsoft SCCM to deploy images and we are using our local File & Print servers as local Distribution Points to minimize WAN traffic. Well, the images did not finish deploying to the server. Now, I was out for a week at a Technology Conference and I kind of panicked for a minute and I think that so did our Director, but our Engineer who has done an incredible job on this project even well before we started, was prepared for it and had multiple DVDs with images for each type of machine at hand. I think that we may have lost perhaps a total of 15 minutes or so before we started the deployment. Our engineering and project management teams had prepared a couple of very detailed sheets, one with all the specifics about each machine that we had imaged with information such as specialty applications, printers, drive letters, and anything else that the end-user would need in order to complete their job; and the second sheet contains step-to-step details on how to deploy application and what to check off.
Imaging the machines may have taken about 30 min in average for each. Then we went on to deploy and test most of the applications in each workstation. I tell you, this is very tedious job and what took the longest because of how focused and detail you have to be in order to get everything done properly. We finish around 1:00 am, primarily because we were in such a roll that we just wanted to keep going. After all, we had the whole Monday to complete the deployment ahead of us.
Day 2. The Real Deal
Monday morning I met with the Training team and our Director joined us to go over what we had accomplished the night before and what was left to do before they head to the office to start training the staff. I followed the meeting with a 3 miles run around town, which was very helpful to help me prepare for the day.
The deployment team, including myself, got to the office later that morning while training was being conducted to finish the customization of the machines, which really wasn’t too much after all, the work the night before. Things such as printer drivers, and a couple of specialty apps were the only outstanding issues and they were completed by lunch time. I have to give credit to our Training Manager here; she did a magnificent job in terms of Coaching, Mentoring and Leadership while introducing this incredible amount of change to our users. Want to know why? This was our Trainer’s very first time teaching a Class in our Firm. We did hit a couple of issues but the planning and preparation that went on for months paid up during execution, a perfect example of the 80/20 rule, which if executed correctly does pay off big time.
The day could have not ended in a better way. Our seventh team member, one of our great Service Desk analyst arrived that night to do floor support along with the rest of the team and we head to dinner. After enjoying a great seafood meal at local restaurant, all seven of us took a walk at the beach, which was not only relaxing and needed but it kind of served as a team building experience. IT WAS AWESOME! We looked like seven children having fun!!
Meanwhile, back at The Mothership
Kuddos also to our EVERYONE back at our main office in Columbia. They were so responsive when we needed them and the communication across teams was incredible, another stepping stone for delivering this effort effectively. Our DMS, DBA, AD, Exchange and Network Engineers as well as our main Trainer, Service Desk and Project Management teams were always at hand when issues aroused and were able to quickly address them. In addition, they were also tasked to hold the fort and support day-to-day operations of the firm and they get as much credit as the onsite team does, especially being so shorthanded.
Days 3 & 4 include deployment and training for attorneys as well as support and I will tell you more about it at the end of the day tomorrow, but I can tell you that it was an exciting day for everyone.