The official iVUE implementation kicked off on January 27th with the ABS analysis trip. As I mentioned in my previous blog, PRECO’s project team includes an ABS and a CC&B project manager. In addition to the respective PRECO project managers, there is a group of additional employees who are assigned to lead various areas: any third party integration, data conversion, SmartHub, Work Management, and Technical Services needs. Along the way, several PRECO employees will be participating in key roles with testing and/or training. Now that we’ve gathered our core project team of 16 – the Sweet Sixteen – we were ready for our analysis trip.

An analysis trip is when an NISC project manager comes out to the site to review current needs and possible challenges that may arise before the implementation. This process helps identify and manage expectations for both NISC and PRECO. In our case, Rusty Willey from NISC came out and is serving as our ABS project manager. Fortunately, the Sweet Sixteen had a couple weeks to continue preparing for the implementation before Rusty visited us onsite.

It’s important to note that a majority of our employees have not been through a major software conversion before—and as a coach prepares the team before the season begins—we have been preparing our team for the project. We met early in the fall and I provided an overview of the project phases which included analysis, data conversion, testing, integration, and go live date and the preparation and tasks associated with each of these phases. Our project team participated in training on PRECO’s project management and data conversion methodologies.

Testing is an integral part of ensuring a successful project. In fact, having a structured testing strategy helps to make sure that iVUE works for PRECO not only for this year’s conversion but well into tomorrow. This structured testing ensures that PRECO is able to leverage iVUE in the future, such as upgrades and other software applications go smoothly. The project team, department heads, executive team and key employees participated in an overview of PRECO’s testing strategy. The benefits of functional, conversion, integration, security, load and parallel testing were presented. We will utilize separate test systems for our staking.

Our testing methodology includes the use of test scenarios instead of test cases. A test scenario describes a scenario to test and often includes several steps to the process versus a test case which are single steps. Test scenarios ensure end-to-end functionality of the application is working as expected and business flows are working as designed.

The strategy is in place but the play book doesn’t exist when it comes to our testing scenarios. A group of 5 employees will coordinate the development of our test scenarios and will seek input from our employees. They will think about the lifecycle of a process and the items that impact each component of the life cycle to generate the scenarios. The scenarios will be used for implementation and for testing future upgrades.

When Kickoff day arrived, Rusty was onsite and ready to go with ABS.One of PRECO’s goals is to become more efficient in our processes and allow our employees more time to analyze their work. Through the implementation process we will consider changes to our business processes and when appropriate utilize the software as designed.

Our core accounting personnel were present along with personnel from other departments who are involved in the ABS functions.Rusty asked a lot of questions to ensure he understood our processes. He demonstrated the software and explained the configuration behind the ABS modules. Just like school, Rusty started handing out homework. Homework included deciding how we want to handle a business process, ordering check stock, cleaning up data, etc.As Rusty assigned tasks, they were entered into Smart Sheet, a web-based project management tool provided by NISC.

We weren’t too far into the analysis when our users realized they are going to be able to get rid of some of the spreadsheets they were using. Rusty and PRECO started a score sheet. Our scoring system was whenever one of our manual processes was replaced with an automated process, Rusty would earn a point. PRECO would earn a point when our current system could handle a function but iVUE couldn’t.

In football terms, PRECO got smoked and skunked. The final score was Rusty 15 – PRECO 0.