An impressive new technology in vehicles these days are blind spot monitors. This safety feature warns drivers when a vehicle is entering their blind spot, enabling them to avoid unseen danger.
As consultants, we are wired to address problems right in front of us. If there is an obstacle in the path of our project or client, we either plan for it, resolve it, or adjust course. However, every project I have supported has encountered problems that creep into our blind spots. And when they go undetected or unaddressed, they end up costing us time, resources, and of course, money.
This article tells a story about seeing the warning signs and how we turned these blind spot dangers into something else: an opportunity for growth.
Being Blind Spot Monitors
On a previous project, part of my role was to support the production roll out to 937 restaurant locations. In the first week, we deployed the new website to one location. In the following week, we deployed to 10 restaurants in a single day. For each deployment day, Credera had three consultants (including me) in the room with the client to manually validate the successful deployment of each location.
Our validation routine was simple:
On the website, search for the restaurant location using its ZIP code.
Confirm the ability to create an online order.
Ensure that selecting the location redirected the browser to the new ordering platform.
Add an item to the cart.
Compete the checkout flow.
For one restaurant, this took several minutes to execute, compile and document the results, and communicate our findings to the team.
This manual process was manageable for 10 restaurants. But my colleague Jonathan Williamson and I saw danger in our blind spot:
What happens when we roll out 80 restaurants in one day?
Since this was the cadence we were to achieve in a short few weeks, Jonathan and I decided to automate the validation process.
And even though the danger was approaching, I immediately saw the opportunities for growth.
Collaboration – Jonathan and I immediately started brainstorming and solving. We hadn’t worked on the same solutions before as he had been dedicated to the front-end user interface (UI) and I had been focused on back-end development. But this was a great opportunity for collaboration and team building.
We leveraged the automated Selenium tests that the team created for the web application and repackaged it to validate a successfully deployed restaurant in production.
It used Node JS to start an application on the client to perform the script. The application would then read a JSON file and load restaurants and the data required for validation.
For each restaurant, it would execute our validation tests that were written using the Intern testing framework. The script would execute its commands against a Chrome browser instance.
After the tests had executed for all restaurants, the script would generate a report with successes, failures, and error messages.
New (to me) Technologies – As I had been solely focused on back-end work, this problem gave me the opportunity to dive into new UI development technologies. I got some exposure in the UI stack with Selenium testing, Leadfoot, Intern, and also did some bash scripting.
Quick, Consistent Results for Our Client – The purpose of the automated script was to make validation as quick as possible, reducing human error in testing. We would get consistent results because of consistent tests. And anyone would be able to execute it, Credera staff or not, Windows or Mac user.
The Real Danger
In the middle of October, a set of circumstances arose such that 169 restaurants needed to be converted to the new website platform ahead of schedule. This was a high-pressure situation because until the conversion was complete, those restaurants were unable to accept online orders. Thus, the project team had to complete the conversion and validation for those 169 restaurants on a Saturday morning, more than double we had ever planned for.
It was the first time I have ever experienced an emergency roll out.
But by that time, our validation process was fully automated and streamlined:
We had already turned hundreds of clicks into two.
We had already pared down the requirement of three consultants to one.
We had already chiseled the minutes it takes to validate a location to a few seconds.
Preparedness prevailed over unseen danger.
By the end of October 2016, we successfully deployed the new website to 937 restaurants in four months.
I honestly believe that even if we didn’t go through this exercise, the roll out would have still been a success due to the efforts of every individual on the project team. But we saw the opportunity to do better. We took a process that was error-prone, resource-intensive, and tedious and turned it into an opportunity to provide better support for our client while growing personally as a team.
Our clients depend on us to fix problems. But what I believe separates good consultants from great ones is not only the ability to see dangers in blind spots, but the ability to see the opportunities beyond them.
life at credera
We’re “open-sourcing” the Credera culture in a series called Life at Credera. We are sharing an authentic perspective on what we are learning and where we are growing. We are talking about friendships and fun, growth, higher purpose, talent and character, leadership, and communication.
We hope this series is a helpful resource on the continuous pursuit of a great culture. And we hope the results are encouraging to our company, employees, clients, and friends.
Looking for more? Check out these great Life at Credera perspectives: