Wednesday, March 2, 2011

SUCCESS at the End of a Long Journey

15 months ago I accepted the challenge of managing the AFPC (Air Force Personnel Center) project to move their on-premise RightNow solution to the DISA DECC (Defense Information Systems Agency Defense Enterprise Computer Center).  The original IMS (to this day I am embarrassed to say - I have no clue that IMS stands for - it's basically a government project plan) had a go-live date of May 2010.  Some of the work had already been completed, but there was plenty of work for us to still accomplish ... how much work?  at the time I would have never guessed the amount of work that RightNow Professional Services, Hosting, Customer Care, Sales, Helix and SecureForce would put into this project to achieve success.  Somewhere around 55 people have billed time to this project - that's an incredible number considering the biggest project that I had worked on before this was somewhere probably between 10 and 12 people!

January 2010 when I initially engaged on this project, myself and Brian arrived in San Antonio at AFPC.  We were escorted on-site by Amy, who had a CAC (Common Access Card) ... this meant we didn't have to wait in the line at the Visitor Center to get a pass to come on base - in the weeks ahead we would make many stops at the Visitor Center.  I believe Brian and John hold the record for the longest wait on a Monday morning - 3 hours to get a pass to be allowed on-site at AFPC.

The first two weeks Brian and I spent on-site we "drank from the fire hose" ... learning everything we could about the project allowing the previous project manager and program manager to roll off the project.  There were many briefings and, at that time, I never thought I would learn everything that I needed to know and be able to speak fluent AFPC and DISA.  With Brian's great leadership and support I was able to quickly begin speaking AFPC and DISA!!

Our first success came in March 2010 when we released a new website look and feel for the AFPC website. This accomplishment would allow us to begin focusing on the bigger task - migrating to DISA!  Once the AFPC website was live we began focusing on the bigger prize ahead:  DISA!!!!  Obviously we would not make the May date due to the fact we were just able to begin truly focusing on this goal until March.  Our new go-live goal was September 2010 and our final go-live goal was February 2011.

This week we finally achieve our success - AFPC is the first RightNow customer live on DISA!  We have officially broken glass!  The people (RightNow, Helix, AFPC) that I have worked with over the past 15 months have become family - we have made many personal sacrifices, worked many late nights and weekends.  There have been many highs and lows, but at the end of the day TOGETHER as a TEAM we have achieved SUCCESS.  The journey has been long but today I am immensely proud of what we have delivered.  One person alone could not have completed this journey successfully, but all of us together did achieve success.  I will miss working with everyone because each of you have been part of my family for the past year!

Tonight as we left our last team dinner I was thinking about memorable stories from our long journey together.  Unfortunately these stories were not documented, but I will jot down a couple that I do remember:

  • If you are having chest pains, please do not hesitate to go straight to the hospital!  Brian survived having  2 heart attacks on-site at AFPC, had successful surgery and was still able to participate in the AFPC go-live success
  • Never stick a thumb drive into an Air Force computer - if you do 3 big goons from security will arrive at your desk.
  • If you are ever in the area, visit Gruene Hall in Gruene, Texas.  It's Texas' oldest dance hall. 
  • The chicken fried steak at Lulu's in San Antonio is tons better than the 3 lb. cinnamon roll.  
  • The City of San Antonio will shut down completely after a dusting of 1/2 of snow/ice
  • Parking in 2 hour visitor parking will result in the issuance of a ticket 

This week my team was awarded with a Military Coin from the AFPC department we were working with.  I was more than honored to receive this gift.  This is not a gift to be taken lightly and this treasure will remind me of the journey my team ended this week.

Thank you to EVERYONE who contributed to this project!!!  It's been a long, tired journey, but we made it!!!!!

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