From Prototype to Production

A lot of organizations that we work with want to start off small with a prototype to see how the product works and how users react to it.  This is a great way to start and we are usually quite successful at getting things set up and the users are off and running in a day of two.  The pilot may run for 30, 60, 90, or even 120 days.

Turns out that the prototype is usually the easy part.  Where we see most organizations struggle is how to take what is working for a small segment of the population and rolling it out to the entire organization.

Interestingly, technology is not the problem.  Databases can handle the extra volume, in a virtualized environment extra CPUs and memory can be easily added when necessary, the networks are already in place, single sign on solutions exist, and services can easily be integrated into additional front-end applications.

So why is it so tough to go from a prototype to operational capability?

Many times, the prototype is done within an organization that does not control the corporate IT infrastructure.  Although successful, there must be “buy in” from the corporate IT team.  Without this “buy in” it’s often difficult to get their support to deploy the solution across the enterprise.  Otherwise, you are just bringing them more work to do. Don’t forget that they may have been looking at another solution or may be understaffed to handle the additional resources that your solution requires.  And who is going to fund that?

Even if you have the IT department on board, you still have to convince the other users that this is a worthwhile effort.  They may like the current tool that’s being used, or may have tried another one at home that they like better.  It does not matter if that is realistic for a corporate solution, they know what they want.

Starting with a prototype is a great way to see if the technology works.  You should ensure that you get the IT department on board as soon as possible so they can begin to understand what is required to scale across the enterprise.  Then you have to realize that you still need to work with each user organization to get their buy in.  To help bridge this gap, make sure that you include members in the prototype group that reach as many organizations as possible.  Select the users that actually influence the users in the organization. It’s possible that they may cause risk to the success of your prototype; however, if you can convince them chances are they’ll easily convince their peers. Once you deploy the prototype to the enterprise and  you begin to scale, others will naturally join in -especially in a collaboration capability.  You’ll be amazed at how quickly the system will expand.

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