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Conference room pilot (CRP) is a key project implementation strategy that tests normal business case scenarios in a proposed new system to uncover people, process, and system issues, generate resolutions, and define action steps needed to complete the implementation.
The pilot is normally done after the initial vendor or in-house education using a test database of representative data.
What is it in detail?
A conference room pilot is like a demo practice; set up to allow the prospective customers a hands-on experience before they buy the software.
The various steps of the simulator must be following the business goals set down by the company and give an exact experience of how the work will proceed when the system is put in place.
CRP is a term used in system procurement, which is an online setup for managing the records like billing orders, payments, approving purchase orders, delivering goods, acquiring invoices, and so on.
It verifies the performance of a system and validates its worth in implementing it for a specific business organization.
How does it work?
Setting up a conference room pilot efficiently is very important because when simulated efficiently a CRP can give rise to system loopholes that need to be addressed before the new system is implemented.
These loopholes can then be pointed out, and customized according to the need before the system is fully implemented. It is essential to test the pilot before implementing the project has taken place or even during the processing.
The users must be very clear about how a system functions and must be the first ones to perform in the demonstration.
Key factors for successful CRP
1.Organizing and planning
Here you need to define the following things
- Objectives: Define proper objectives and write done them. Make sure that objectives must be good and clear. Select the CRP objectives so that they support companies objectives.
- Organizing: Clearly determine the responsible person for conducting the procedure and acting upon outputs. Transparently define the role of each member who participates in CRP and makes sure the involvement of vendors and consultants.
- Scope: Clearly state the important things to be involved in your CRP. Determine the applications, after-effects on the organization, and desired involvement. Clearly state whether you are going to change the complete process by eliminating the non-profitable process or you are planning to modify the current approach.
- Tools and methods: Define the methods and tools that will be used during the CRP process.
- Planning: Make a plan so that it acts as a major project management tool. Define the responsibilities, supporting activities, milestones, dates, durations, resource requirements ( equipment, people, and external support). Make sure that each application area has its own milestone, activity plan, and responsible persons.
2. Requirements and documentation
You may think that why it should be a part of CRP? Yes, it should be a part of CRP because of these three reasons. 1. To remember, 2. To give importance to business instead of technical, 3. To construct into the CRP effort.
You should have a good foundation for the planned operation of a new system. Otherwise, there will be a chance of distraction from vendors or others with different goals. Hence documentation is very important.
It is equally important to remember the previous journey while changing the system. That means it is necessary to learn where are you going and where are you come from.
So it is crucial to have exhaustive and elaborate documentation while replacing the old system with a new one.
It is necessary to learn how the new system works and what are problems and issues arise while working with a new system. So it is better to list out the detailed “to-be” definition. It will be helpful as the process moves forward.
Companies may think that the existing system is logical and reasonable. But in reality, it is not. There will be many expectations and many alternative activities.
And also all the people do not handle the problem in the same way. Customer returns and outside processing are nice examples of this.
Traditional documentation tools are not that effective to handle all these things. It is better to use the “flow chart” method for attractive documentation rather than having the documentation with boring and complex diagrams.
How to deal with these risks?
- First, determine a good balanced and qualified team. Educate them about modern system approaches and make them study applications well. Explain to them about methods used by many successful companies. After that explain clearly the structure of the documentation.
- Determine the aim to be achieved during the documentation. For example, reduce the paperwork by 40%, reduce the attainment time by 20%, etc. This pushes the people to finish the current approaches to achieve desired approaches. This also helps to create the project in a healthy return on investment.
- Put the flow charts on the wall with visible size and connect them with visible arrows. Note down the cycle time., responsibilities, and applicable procedures for all processes. Explain what to be done, why, and how to be done.
- Get reviews and suggestions from all departments, customers, and government officials also to improve it.
- Let them write their suggestions on a small notepad with the date so that the project team members can record, classify, and edit them on the issues list. When it got documented then discuss the issue and actions and list them on the “to-be” list.
- Make the team more creative by challenging them to reduce the cycle time and administrative paperwork.
The administration is an important factor for a successful CRP. Assign an administrator to impart a focal point for all activities of the conference room pilot.
He should plan the CRP including scheduling, task assignment, monitor, follow-up, process&documentation standards. These things help to keep the process on track and within the budget.
His responsibilities include
- Monitoring the process and makes sure that the process is going as per the predetermined plan.
- Monitoring the parameters such as costing methods, defaults, exception reporting rules, posting rules, etc
- Maintaining the following database
- Training database – used for official and unofficial instructions
- CRP database – used for structured business testing
- Play database- used for free or paid experimentation
- Production database – used for the several organizations recruit the software after implementation
- Maintaining the archives of the CRP database.
Sometimes CRP database is required to maintain the parameters of project management instructions. For example, if the functional leader instructs the administrator to change the parameter, then the administrator discusses and reviews the impact of changing the parameter with his team.
These changes were examined in CRP and eventually moved to the other database.
4. Equipment and provisions
Proper equipment and facilities are very important for a successful CRP. They help to improve the results, decrease the costs. The organization should provide sufficient space to gather the team and it should allow them to perform wall chart activities, training activities, and simulation testing.
A sufficient number of workstations and printers are also required for the team’s effective interaction and efficient performance. These should be provided by the organization.
5. Technical support
The organization should provide the required technical support to conduct CRP. Provide all the above databases and frequently take up the backups. Keep supporting the team technically by providing restoring capabilities, enough equipment, and service supports.
6. Operational stage
Following are some good ways to organize the CRP activities.
- Functional leaders construct the “to-be” flows and find out the issues.
- The team works on assignments, priorities, and solving the finding issues.
- The administrator does an official trial of flow charts to guide the written scenarios and gives all CRP plans, schedules, and scenario guidelines.
Based on guidelines, functional leaders build functional scenarios and list out the issues, suggestions from system users, and managers. They work on flow charts and discuss the issue handling. Leaders involve the team through an online scenario trial.
While doing scenario exercises, many questions and problems may arise. They test the alternative methods to solve the problems. So in this phase, many problems will be solved.
Before stepping into this stage, it is better to take up vendor software training and industry-specific education.
It is better to solve the problems on the paper itself before going for a computer simulation because reloading the database, resetting the parameters, and re-doing the trial is difficult and a waste of time.
It is crucial to record the results, problems, and solutions for that problems.
Components are objectives in a Conference Room Pilot
- To determine the preferred design of workflow
- To identify gaps and loopholes in the steps of the simulation and rectifying them for the most efficient performance between the new and the old software.
- To estimate the effects of changes on specific departments or individuals.
- To identify the lack of staff training requirements, if any.
- To determine the overall standard of the software being tested for, during, or before the implementation.
- To outline the strengths and weaknesses of the ERP program to be implemented
- To map the data cleaning, converting, and reconciling process.
What is the importance of CRP?
CRP plays a very important role while implementing a project
- It allows the member of project teams to do end-to-end process practice and yields feedback
- It helps the team with reliability to test the system even it is in development
- It helps to improve the team confidence
- It gives a chance to employees to get hands-on experience
Conference room pilot example
We consider software put forward by a digital health provider, being installed in a hospital. The best way to test whether it holds to the company policies is to build a simulator as close to the live clinical setup as possible, and allow the customers to have a hands-on experience with a free demo.
In a hospital environment, the sets and subsets of components involved in a CRP can be considered as the subset of beds or the subsets of nurses.
It will be an entire digitalization of the hospital components, which can be easily monitored by looking thoroughly over the software being implemented.
Here, a conference room pilot can be implemented for the hospital staff to see whether the software is working according to their needs.
3 phases of Conference Room Pilot
- Scope CRP: Here, you finalize the scope of the project being designed with a final statement on the requirements of the project.
- Design CRP: Here, the requirements are being transferred to proof of the design. A team with technical and functional expertise starts designing a project. A properly designed CRP, in this case, would validate the fact that you understood the key elements of the business scope and were aptly able to transfer them into an efficient design.
- Build CRP: In this final phase, the team of experts actually starts to build the application. The goal here is to translate the design elements developed so far into a fully functional application. A live demo is essential during this phase, as it helps to identify any issues and allows the total participation of the team members.
Conference room pilot checklist
- Make out employee attendance: Establish a proper attendance list and custom build the CRP training to improve employee skills and needs of users. So that you can make sure that each employee is meeting the correct pilot.
- Define and communicate objectives: It is necessary to introduce the objectives before talking to the technical aspects. Clearly define the number of sessions and pilot to be covered in that session and let the employees know about this. Make sure of full attendance in all sessions.
- Put in real data: Use real data for better understanding in the pilot. It helps the employees to understand that how the implementing software relates to their role.
- Invite project supporters: While conducting sessions invite project supporters to get their ideas and suggestions.
- Give time for conversations: Let the employees ask their questions and doubts. If no one is ready to ask questions person who is taking the session need to ask questions. It is good to get feedback.
- Set the proper timings for the session: Set the convenient time to take sessions, so that the maximum number of participants can attend the session.
- Review the results: Keep the track of topics discussed during sessions by documentation. After that generate the final report that must include the following things
- The outcomes of conference room pilot
- The issues registered
- The list of software that fulfills your organization requirements
To understand the conference room pilot best practices, a specific CRP should be implemented for every step of the process, to make the entire process clear to every team member during each phase of the project.
A conference room pilot session should be organized during the middle phase of every step, and should not be left for the end of the session.