I’m going to start this story with a confession, this happened nearly two years ago. The reason we didn’t make a song and dance about this at the time is: this is just what we do; we’re presented with a problem, have a think about it for a bit, come up with a solution and move on to the next one. It wasn’t until recently that I was thinking about this particular assignment on a return trip to the same client and it occurred to me that doing a bit of thinking, executing the basics really well and checking your results really makes a difference.

And if you think all this sounds a bit nebulous, you’d be right so let me tell you what happened.

Claremont had placed a team of five consultants on-site with this client to augment their current support resources. The current resources in question being a mixture of their own staff, local contractors and a team from their (then) hosting partner. Members of the team would individually pick up defects from the HPQC system, work on them, submit them to the test team and move on. Fairly bog-standard support work really.

One of my colleagues and I had started to notice a number of defects around the production of letters (this client prints and sends thousands of letters each day to its customers). Letters were created using BI Publisher and sent to a 3rd party printing facility. We searched HPQC for similar issues and collected them all together (oddly enough, people didn’t seem to mind us taking defects off of their plates). The number wasn’t huge but it presented enough of a problem that the client didn’t have enough confidence to print these letters and send them straight out of the door. Instead it was the job of six people to check the content of these letters before they were posted (did I mention they print thousands of these things every day? Good). Some of these letters contained bank account information so they were right to be concerned about them.
So having collected the problems together, gone and had a chat with the support staff who deal with the letters to sort out priorities, we got down to fixing the issues. This in itself was not difficult (we are talking about doing the basics well here folks), however pulling these problems together and dealing with them together made the difference. One by one the issues disappeared and so did the people who checked the letters eventually. I’m told they’re doing something a bit more interesting elsewhere in the organisation (we didn’t get them cast out onto the street or anything like that).

The point is (and this is what occurred to me recently) we just thought about the problem slightly differently, worked out the scale of the problem, did some decent fixing and testing and things got better.

It really isn’t rocket science. A bit of head-scratching time, work out what you’re really looking at and get on with it. It’s just what we do.

And I must remember to make more noise about that in future.

Michael Lane

Technical Managing Consultant

Michael leads the technical delivery of client projects as well as developing tools and methods aimed at removing risk and costs from Oracle ERP upgrades and implementations.