Thursday, September 8, 2011

Win7/Office 2010 Deployment Office 2, Days 3 & 4

Last week I covered the first two days of our Window 7 & Office 2010 deployment in this blog. Today I am going to tell you how we close the deal during days 3 and 4.

Day 3. Closing the Deal
After a relaxing night closed out with a walk at one of Hilton Head beaches’ shore we were re-energized and it showed as soon as we got to the building. The first group, the support team, got to the office very early to be available to help the office staffers that got newly imaged PCs with the new OS and Office Suite as well as some new or upgraded applications, including our iManage DMS application. The deployment team arrived to the office later that morning to continue working on re-imaging machines and addressing escalated issues.

“Any change, even a change for the better,
 is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts.”
Arnold Bennett

Yes, there was a lot of change and the next few days, and weeks will bring a lot of adjustment for our firm while dealing with a new interface that touches pretty much everything they do in a daily basis. However, I can’t emphasize enough the great performance delivered by our Training Team. This showed during the whole day. While there were a lot of different activities going on at the same time, the day went very well; I really had expected more issues and questions from our users but they held up and dealt with the massive change extremely well and they actually did bring up some very valid questions. Once again, Kudos to our Training Team here, and they were not done yet.

After a nice group lunch in the office the big test for our team arrived; attorney training. The challenge wasn’t only to engage them and keep them involved but also efficiently deal with the many activities going on at the same time. We had two people doing floor support, two folks conducting attorney training, and three re-imaging the rest of the machines of those in training. Once I finished imaging one of the machines assigned to me I saw the need of switching my role into that of a Project Manager. Issues were still coming up and the vast majority was being efficiently and promptly handled by the support team, while some would need more advance troubleshooting and help from the engineers back at The Mothership. Thus, I saw the need to become the central information repository and I started to centrally compile all issues in our log dedicated to that. We always intended to approach the project this way but we had to deviate a bit from it for many reasons. However, we were able to quickly adapt and react to the new situation and get that PM role going again, which will now be part of all future role outs as it should. The PM will focus on being the “Central Communications Center” as well as the data collector so everyone can stay focused on their tasks. So I started walking around and making sure that everyone was doing what they were supposed to while collecting information that we needed to pass on to the rest of the team.

At the end, we were able to re-image all remaining machines and complete both support and training. It was a long day for most, but the preparation and planning that went on for months paid off again. I think that the main challenge for most was adjusting to the new iManage interface and Idol search engine as well as the obvious adjustment to the Office Ribbon.

Day 4. The Attorneys & Training; Need I Say More?
I do indeed! But this time I wasn’t impressed because of the amazing job that our trainers did. They really engaged the attorneys who also did a great job embracing the new interfaces and really going for it and trying to make the most out of the new systems.

“Change brings opportunity.”
Nido Qubein

As I mentioned these attorneys were really trying to adjust and make the most out of the system. They had great comments about the iManage EMM plugin for email management, which was not being used by all of them; some were exploring the IDOL search engine and began to like it a lot; heck we had attorneys using Win7 Snipping Tool!!! One of then used this tool to create a Memo and here is how she summarized her experience: “This upgrade has revolutionized my day! I did a two-page memo faster than I've ever been able to do before”. Now, getting this type of comment on Day One, I mean like the morning after the attorney was trained and facing massive change?…Priceless, for everything else, there are Windows XP & Office 2003!

Now, there were still issues and one that we are looking at how to better handle in the future is synchronizing OST files over the WAN. When a person travels to a remote office and logs for the first time to a different computer, Outlook will start synchronizing its caching and could potentially cripple the bandwidth to the office depending on the situation. The way we approached the initial deployment was by bringing OST file from last production day, in this case Friday, with us so that we could sync up locally without going over the wire. The switch to cache mode presents a new challenge not only during the migration but on an ongoing basis going forward, especially for offices with small bandwidth capacity. I will be looking at how our Riverbed Steelhead can help here.

Thanks to the amazing work of the support team, the deployment team was ready to return home by 3:00 pm. Our trainers remained behind and assumed support responsibilities the rest of the week which went very well. In fact, I’ve been checking with our service desk analysts and the call volume from the offices that have been converted have been very low according to them.

We are working on the next deployment which starts this upcoming weekend in our main office here in Columbia, SC. This will be the largest deployment so far and will tell us a lot for the rest of the way but I am confident that our team will deliver once again. From this point on I will be
occasionally posting updates about the whole project as we go on. I will continue to be in some of the deployments as either the Operations Manager or Project Manager. Meanwhile, my team is coming behind the Win7 team rolling out Endpoint and Media Encryption using Credant's Mobile Gurdian at the offices that have been migrated to the new OS already and I will be blogging about that project as well.

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