When launching a new integration for a client, there a a few basic principles that are vital to ensuring a trouble-free process. These are reasonably basic concepts taken directly from the PMP (Project Management Professional) standards and best-practices. While many experienced integrators already utilize these methods, I have been somewhat surprised with the number of resellers who neglect these principles and ultimately create a more troublesome and less functional deployment, resulting in overall dissatisfaction of the product.
BEFORE the design of the solution:
- Establish in writing the client’s expectations regarding the capabilities and performance of the system. This may require several meetings, but it is imperative that the integrator not only understands the expectation of the client, but that the client understands and acknowledges the integrator’s interpretation of that expectation. This ensures that from the outset, everybody is working toward the same goal.
- Establish a preliminary Dial Plan as early in the process as possible. Ensure there is a clear picture in the client’s minds how they will place their calls and that this meets with the security policies in place. This step has the added benefit of revealing at an early stage many network anomalies that may not come up in normal fact-finding phases of the project.
- Develop an accurate network diagram and gain client sign-off. This is an often neglected or under-delivered step due to the difficulty of getting accurate information, but it is vital. If you have a clear understanding of the network architecture, and design/build to that environment, troubleshooting becomes far less complex. It also establishes a baseline for the level of communication you expect with the client and avoids unnecessary problems throughout the implementation.
- Establish a Single Point-Of-Contact for the project. This a person on the client’s staff that has the authority to either make design decisions or access them quickly. The more people involved in the process, the more difficulty you will have managing an efficient design and implementation process
AFTER the design of the solution:
- Gain client sign-off on all operational capabilities, performance limitations, Dial Plan, and other important information. I cannot stress enough the importance of this step. It establishes the baseline to which the entire implementation will be based upon and minimizes confusion for all parties. This document should be highly descriptive and unambiguous.
- Establish the implementation process, testing procedures, access to network personnel for troubleshooting purposes, and a solid game-plan for the entire process.
These are just a few of the most important aspects of a good Project Management system I have found to be helpful in my experience. Obviously, everybody adds their own flavor to the process but I’ve never seen an integrator that routinely and consistently delivers a quality platform without implementing the above steps in some fashion.