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A Tale of CRM Migration

Staring out at the pouring rain, Leonard picked up the freshly brewed coffee and grinned. Tomorrow morning he and his family were off to California and soon he’d be sitting by a sun drenched pool and reading a good book.  Too bad for the rest of the office, they’d just have to grumble their way through the soggy UK summer.

Ignoring the box of donuts next to the coffee machine, he wandered back to his office to tie up some final loose ends. A bunch of emails, some brief meetings, a couple of calls and he was off.

He’d just sat down when Scotty, the Project Director, poked his head around the door.

“Hey, Lenny.” When Scotty was uncomfortable his eyes kept moving from one thing to another, just as they were doing now. “Got a minute, mate? “

“Sure, come on in.” Leonard gestured for Scotty to sit but he remained standing.

“Er, well, it looks like we have a problem with the Enterprise project.”

Leonard’s eyes narrowed, this was the last thing he wanted to hear. Enterprise Inc. was their biggest client and the reason their Company would have a healthy profit for the next two years. They were in the middle of a huge CRM implementation for Enterprise, and today’s wrap up meetings had indicated everything was on track.

“It’s the migration bit,” Scotty continued. “We can’t get some key information because one of the Enterprise guys has gone on holiday and won’t be back for a couple of weeks. Meanwhile, we’re stuck.”

“Stuck? What do you mean?”  Leonard knew the migration had to be completed in three weeks.

Scotty shrugged as if to say facts were facts. “We need that information to move forward.”

“Oh come on, Scotty, you must have known this person would be away.”

Scotty‘s eyes fixated on the window behind Leonard.

“The leave was in the project plan but we didn’t realize this was the only person who could help with our format queries. And…”

“And…?” Leonard didn’t like where this conversation was heading.

“…..and on top of this the client just  found about 100 Excel spreadsheets that they want migrated as well, and they’re a complete mess.

“Seriously, you only just found out about them?”

“Well, apparently they’re recorded in one of the early meetings, but they’re not in the sign off document, so they are not in the project plan.”

Leonard shook his head. “Anything else I should know about?” he was being sarcastic, so it was a bit of a shock to find out there was more.

“Actually… we just updated the project plan and found that delays in other areas, like confirming drop-down formats in the new system, have started to impact the overall timeline as well.”

Leonard was about to ask how a project can go from on-track in the morning to behind schedule in the afternoon, when James, the Sales Director, came storming in.

“What the hell is going on?”

James set himself down with a thump, leaned forward in his chair.

“I’ve just had a call from the Business Manager at Enterprise saying he’s heard we won’t meet our September migration deadline.”

James was fuming.

“Why am I hearing about a problem from a client before I hear about it internally? Do you have any idea how that makes me look?”

The question was clearly rhetorical.

“And is there a problem anyway? This morning your team,” he looked pointedly at Leonard, “Said the project is on schedule. Does someone want to tell me what’s happening? “

Scotty went to respond, but Leonard cut in. As CIO he felt he needed to manage this one.

“We’ve found a problem, James, and one of our technical guys on the ground made some off the cuff comments that have been blown up. I’m going through the status of the project with Scotty right now. Give me 15 minutes and I’ll be able to give you a full update.”

James looked like he wanted to say more but he closed his mouth tight. They all knew that he’d have plenty to say later if he didn’t like what he heard.

“Alright, I’ll be in my office,” and he stomped away.

Leonard and Scotty sat at a small table in the room and went through the issues, calling on members of the migration team as needed. Leonard saw a text flash from his wife. Left yet? He responded with Not quite, will keep you posted, and received a sarcastic, surprised looking emoticon. His wife probably guessed something was up.

It ended up that the problem was more than someone being away on holiday. Generally, the data they’d initially reviewed wasn’t representative so it was taking longer than expected to setup transfer profiles. On top of that, they were hitting a lot of duplicates and dirty data, and the migration tool they were using wasn’t good at dealing with either.  Slow responses from the client hadn’t helped, but they had also been bad at follow-up. As they updated the project plan to reflect small delays and the afternoon’s new issues, the extent of the problem became clear.

Christine knocked on his door. “Lenny, Uhura asked me to let you know she’s been trying to reach you.”

He looked at his phone which had been placed on silent and saw a stream of texts from his wife. He nodded to Christine and returned his attention to Scotty.

“Do whatever is needed to make sure we don’t miss the migration date and send me a revised project plan within an hour. We’ll cancel leave and add more resources, and look into the possibility of using an external Migration Services Group. Meanwhile, I’ll talk to James about what he needs to get from the client. They’ll have to play ball, as well.

Leonard stopped for another coffee on his way to James’ office. As the beans ground automatically and trickling hot water did its magic transformation trick he texted his wife. Sorry, running late, an emergency at work, will call as soon as I can. The response was immediate. Again? Try not to be too late! There was a smiley face as well, but he wasn’t fooled. He grabbed his coffee and headed out of the lunch room, picking up a couple of donuts as he went. He could use a sugar hit.

James was less than happy with the turn of events.

“Look, if we miss the migration deadline Enterprise will have to go through a whole new round of requesting computer access and it will push everything out. They’ll be furious if they miss their live date.”

“I know, but they have also messed up by sitting on questions and requests for information.”

“OK, but to be honest, I don’t really care whose fault it is. We both know that payment is tied to milestones and we need to hit our agreed dates.”

“And we will – as long as we get the quick responses from the client.  Enterprise agreed to a 24 hour turnaround and we need to make sure they stick to this. Plus, they have to get us those outstanding formats asap, one way or another. “

James exhaled slowly through his teeth. “Alright, I’ll speak to Enterprise, explain there have been some issues but we have them under control, let them know what they have to give us. Still, remember how important this client is. We simply cannot afford any slippage.”

“Of course.”  Leonard’s tone was confident, but he knew the next few weeks were going to be hard work for everyone, including himself.

“Uhura honey?” he was back in his office with yet another coffee and donut, and finally had a chance to call home.

“What now?” Her voice sounded weary.

“Honey, there’s a major problem with the Enterprise project and everyone’s leave has been cancelled, including mine.”

There was a pause.

“But the company will reimburse us and we’ll reschedule for the holiday break, I promise. Or,” he had a thought, “You could still go with the kids if you want to.”

There was another pause.



“OK, I’ll take the children by myself. It seems unfair to cancel the trip at such short notice, they’re looking forward to it so much.”

Teenagers now, the kids were easy to travel with, so it made sense for them to go without him. Still, the thought of missing a family holiday stung, and he tried to ignore the image of sunny skies, sparkling pools and condensation covered bottles of beer that flashed before his eyes. “You’re right; it’s the best thing to do. I’ll make sure I get home in time to say goodbye to you all.”

He leant back in his chair to savor a few moments of quiet before the next round of meetings. The CRM migration was only a small part of the business they’d won. The CRM implementation and setup, provision of cloud services, integration projects, management fees – that was where the real money lay, yet it was potentially all under threat because they’d underestimated the difficulty of this step. It was the first time they’d tackled a migration internally. They would know better next time.

For now, he had to focus on the task at hand. Maybe if things went smoothly he could sneak away and visit his parents in Cornwell for a couple of days. If he was really lucky, he might even see a bit of sun.

Who needs a holiday in California, after all? Yeah, right.


©InaPlex 2017

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