The process is made up of six stages, each with custom-designed metrics, and specific goals. A project plan, implementation phases, tasks, dependencies and a defined level of effort are part of each project.
Each stage features detailed but flexible planning and a focus on accuracy, quality and reliability. The entire process has one simple goal: exceeding customer expectations.
The Assessment stage is the first stage in a customer engagement, and is exited when a project plan is accepted by the customer. This stage involves solution consultant(s) meeting with various customer representatives with the objective of collecting four sets of data:
- Process flow maps, using swim lane diagrams showing the logical flow of data collection, processing, and reporting process(es) to be improved.
- A systems/facilities map, dealing with all relevant applications, systems, facilities, equipment, and data sources encountered and interfaces thereto (including data samples).
- A user map, involving a high-level specification and description for the user constituencies interfaced with and the manner in which they interact with the solution; and finally.
- Data entry and reporting formats, including samples (if available) of current entry and reporting forms. In order to facilitate the data collection process, a group of future super-users (those who will remain as part of the project for the duration) are trained at this stage.
The Design stage involves the detailed design of the solution model structure, data model, data entry forms and mechanisms, and reports, as well as any compliance task templates and incident templates. It is entered upon exiting the Assessment stage, and exited when a detailed design document is created, along with a prototype configuration.
This stage involves solution engineers, working both on and off site, taking the data collected during the Assessment stage, working with the customer representatives who contributed during the Assessment stage to collect additional data detailing out all aspects of the configuration, and creating appropriate renditions of configurations in a prototype/demonstration environment.
During this stage, solution engineers work with the customer team to formalize any data that may have been found to be not formalized in the Assessment stage. This effort may involve the creation and documentation of additional process flow maps, facility structures, etc.
The Development stage involves the execution of the project plan for the development of an appropriate solution model for the facilities, equipment, monitoring points, etc. It includes the setup of an appropriate data structure, computational routines, and the development of data entry forms and reports targeted at specific user communities. It is entered upon exit from the Design stage, and is exited upon achievement of a test-ready solution configuration.
Part of this stage involves the installation, licensing, and basic configuration of appropriate pre-requisites, both hardware (database server, Web server, etc.) and software (database, Web server, xOverTime product suite, etc.). Solution engineers meet with the appropriate customer representatives (typically IT/IS resources) to perform or assist in the installation of hardware and software pre-requisites, as well as configuration of the basic pre-requisite services, such as e-mail services (which are used by xOverTime solutions to notify users regarding events within the system and any actions required).
This stage also involves solution engineers configuring the solution to replicate, automate, and enhance the current data gathering, data entry, calculation, and reporting processes. Historical data is uploaded into the system, and the system’s structure is evaluated against this known historical model. Regulatory compliance reports and incident management routines are configured at this stage. This effort also includes the creation of any end user training materials and tutorials, as well as testing thereof.
The Deployment stage involves the validation of development efforts by historical comparison and testing. It is entered upon exit from the Design stage, and is exited upon customer acceptance of the configuration.
Solution engineers perform basic testing on the configuration to ensure correctness; then customer representatives are involved in validating historical report results. Once these validation steps have been successful, a “pilot” implementation may go live for a restricted set of users (typically, a pilot involves a single facility or sub-section thereof). Finally, a full rollout is conducted, with discrete customer acceptance criteria to be achieved.
The Training stage involves the training of end users, super-users and/or administrators. Super-users are typically users with ongoing configuration evolution and maintenance responsibility; they may also be the trainers of the end user community. It is entered upon exiting the Deployment stage, and it is exited upon completion of all planned training activities.
This stage involves xOverTime trainers delivering the planned training in either a classroom environment (10 students per instructor limit) with follow-ups in 1X1 on-the-job training sessions. The 1X1 training sessions can be delivered either instead of or in addition to classroom training, depending on the size of the user community. In all cases, training includes telephone or in-person follow up sessions and support to ensure that the user community adopts the new solution with a minimum of work process disruption and with maximum benefit and enthusiasm.
The Support stage involves xOverTime telephone, e-mail, and in-person customer support of the solution deployed. It is entered upon exit from the Training stage, and is not exited; it is continued for the duration of xOverTime’s support contract with the customer.
This stage begins with a solution engineer providing end-user, power user, and administrator support personally. After a brief introductory period, typically 2 weeks or less, support functions are transitioned to xOverTime’s customer support organization.
A Best Practices Approach
Our goal is to provide all services with intense focus on driving factors; namely, customer internal data gathering and reporting requirements, end user processes, and permit and regulatory compliance requirements. All goals are geared to maximizing benefit and targeted to the most important metrics. Great care is taken in all phases of a project to ensure that there is no adverse impact of any kind on existing applications and/or processes.
Deployments are always scaled to the required user base and designed to meet the unique requirements of each customer. The xOverTime team brings many years of experience in deploying business solutions, with standardization and flexibility as guiding principles.
The watchwords in solution development and deployment are reliability, simplicity, and security. All solutions are built to the highest standards of reliability, with robustness meticulously assured in all phases of development and deployment. Simpler models and data schemes are typically favored over more complex ones, all other attributes being equal. This philosophy results in solutions that are easier and faster to build, implement, document, and maintain. Security requirements, as dictated by the nature of the project, are held as paramount.
Our project management methodology focuses on scope, budget and schedule. Successful projects, especially related to information system technologies, always have proper visibility and controls for each of these three aspects of the project. The first step is to establish a project baseline consisting of the following:
A detailed project plan will be established and maintained showing the timeline, tasks, dependencies and resource allocation for the project. Actual team effort and progress on deliverables will be reviewed on a regular basis.
The Customer Business Project Manager will be responsible for managing the assignment of Customer staff to the project tasks and monitoring their input to the project. The xOverTime Project Manager will be responsible for managing the assignment of implementation staff to the project tasks and monitoring their input to the project.
The primary mechanisms for project communications will be:
- Weekly project reviews by telephone, addressing progress against key tasks, resources and any issues related to the project status and schedule. Meeting notes will be produced and the Issues and Actions log updated.
- Monthly written progress reports summarizing progress against the detailed project plan, planned tasks and deliverables for the following month and significant issues arising, this will require specific attention from Sempra and xOverTime.
- Action and Issue Management: Our issue management process consists of three on-going procedure steps:
- Identify and centrally document issues (the responsibility of all members of our team).
- Assign responsibility and timetable for resolving issues (the responsibility of the Project Manager).
- Monitor and report issue resolution (the responsibility of the Project Manager).
- Implementation Project Risk Management: A risk assessment will be performed at the start of the project. This will capture the following information: description of the risk, its likelihood and impact, mitigation and risk owner. The risk register will be reviewed on a monthly basis and at key project stages. A list of key project assumptions will also be maintained and reviewed on a monthly basis and at key project stage boundaries.
- Financial Management: Expenses will be managed aggressively to minimize customer cost.
- Acceptance of Deliverables: The project team will submit all deliverables for formal review and approval by the client according to the Acceptance Criteria developed during the Design Stage. In order that we stay on course to meet the project deadlines, the key components to ensuring efficiency during the acceptance of deliverables will be:One person from Sempra will be designated as acceptor for each deliverable.
- Each deliverable will include an acceptance form for signature.
- Each deliverable must be accepted or rejected in writing within 5 business days.
- Sempra will identify reasons for any rejection in writing, along with changes needed for approval.
- Completeness and correctness criteria: At the start of the project and beginning of each stage the criteria to be used to evaluate each deliverable will be reviewed and agreed. Deliverables will then be evaluated against these criteria before they are approved.
- Quality assurance: These are the processes used to manage and deliver the solution. xOverTime may conduct an independent internal audit of the project as part of its on-going Quality Management System. The implementation Project Manager will periodically review the project. Checklists will be used to ensure that the project procedures are followed.
- Quality control: Activities performed continually throughout the project to verify that the project management and project deliverables are of high quality. Deliverable walk-throughs will be conducted and unit, integration and customer acceptance testing of the system