The day of reckoning is drawing nigh. Around the nones of April (look it up if you need to) we are cutting over from the old customer relationship system to the new. It will be an exciting and nerve wracking time depending upon your disposition. The question on everyone’s lips however is do we go big bang or parallel run? Do we switch from one system to the other in one almighty leap of faith or do we keep both systems going for a period just in case things don’t pan out as expected. The real question is is this practical or indeed possible?
The rule book says that we should parallel run. It’s the safest option. If the new system doesn’t work then we always have the good old classic system to fall back on but these are new and unchartered times and anyway, if the old system was so good then why are we replacing it and why rely on it to save the day?
There is an interesting twist though. Not only are we replacing the system, we are using this as an opportunity to alter the processes that the software supports. The way that we deal with our customers will be very different depending upon which system we are using. With some processes, for example, in the old system a customer service person will be involved and in the new they will not. The way that the customer requests are processed are incompatible between the systems and so a parallel run is out of the question.
Does this make life easier for us? In many ways the answer is yes. On go-live day we have no choice other than to concentrate all of our efforts on the new system. We cannot fall back unless we set up an elaborate mechanism of capturing all of the customer enquiries and replay them. Rather than working on a get-out option we need to ensure sufficient user acceptance testing is carried out to the point where we ae confident the new system does what is expected. We need to have delivered as much training as is possible and have as many people on the ground as we can to help our colleagues through the big day.
I’ve been through many systems transitions. All have been with a degree of pain. My belief is that a big bang is more painful in the short term yet a parallel run draws out that pain over a longer period. Given the option I would always plum for more effort up front and a big bang approach rather than a protracted and ultimately more painful cut over.
This time though I don’t think we have an option.