3…2…1…Liftoff

It’s been a while since I last posted here, but with good reason – we’ve been heads-down getting ready for our launch of Convio’s Luminate CRM product. Last week, as the culmination of six months work, we finally went live, with the added bonus of rolling out Chatter as an organizational communications tool to our Leadership Team. Exciting stuff (well, at least to us)!

Immediately upon launch, I had to head out to Los Angeles with my family for a wedding this weekend and we had a chance to get a day at Disneyland. After riding a series of roller-coasters, I came to the realization that a project launch has some similarities to a roller-coaster: you can think of all the project activities leading up to launch as akin to the process of hauling the car up to the top of the track, gaining a huge amount of potential energy that will be unleashed when you go live. In addition, for a project team, the period after launch can feel a bit like an out-of-control roller-coaster, as your users get hold of your carefully-crafted system and immediately begin twisting it into shapes that you never would have imagined.

Upon reflection, however, it seems that while a launch can feel like an out-of-control Disney ride, I think a better metaphor is that of a rocket launch. Our project work, designing business processes, converting data, configuring the system and training users is more akin to the careful planning and preparation that goes into a successful satellite or space shuttle launch: filling the fuel tanks with liquid oxygen, doing the orbital calculations and training the crew to take us into our stable orbit. Also, unlike a roller-coaster, once you’ve actually gotten going, there is still much to do, with constant tracking and the occasional mid-course correction required to get your ship where it belongs.

This feels like a much more apt metaphor to me – we’ve done a ton of work to get here but now that we’ve launched, our project team will play the role of Mission Control, overseeing the flight, helping to keep things on track, and in the event of an emergency (which we hope won’t occur), getting out the duct tape and figuring out how to fix things (though fortunately, none of our emergencies compare to that of Apollo XI).

For us, those tasks include continuing to push adoption, not only of good CRM practices, such as logging calls and meetings, but also of Chatter usage, making sure that the right contextual information is getting created in the right way. We’ll continue holding our weekly team meetings for the next few months, looking at reports of user logins, records created, opportunities moving through the pipeline and we’ll figure out what kinds of mid-course corrections we need to make.

At this point, however, I’m just happy to have gotten our rocket off the ground and to be moving into the next phase. I’d also like to give A big shout-out to our team from Heller Consulting – you folks were key partners in getting us to this stage of the project – thank you!

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