Friday, August 1, 2008

Fun rolling out a Notes upgrade


By Nancy Hand

We'd just been told we had four months to test and implement a major Notes upgrade for 3,000 users. I'd read the first 50 pages of documentation and was hyperventilating as I tried to explain to Dilbert what we were up against.

The people on site were accustomed to opening their mail from any workstation that was handy. Further complicating things, some machines were configured to connect to the network with generic IDs, meaning some regular mail users had never logged into the network as themselves. And now Notes wanted a "one user, one workstation" mode. The nervous tic at my eye extended to meet one at the corner of my mouth, for a Texas-style hoe-down.

Dilbert and I put our heads together to try and force Notes to work in our environment. Wally wandered by occasionally, coffee mug in one hand, doughnut in the other, to laugh at the hackers while Lenny stitched together an MSI package, with our changes, that could be installed with power user rights on the Windows server.

We brainstormed for hours. When we ran out of ideas, Dilbert and I swilled coffee as we watched Lenny run laps along the perimeter fence. Wally would sometimes stop by to share day-old pastries from Starbucks.

After 3 months, we had a working installation package that would allow up to 100 people to use a single workstation for Notes. Each person would have their own personal address book, bookmarks, and desktop files on the machine and they could go to any other workstation on site and use the full Notes client without having to carry their ID file on a floppy or thumb drive, or log into the workstation with their ID. The last bit was to configure a standardized Welcome page.

We contacted Pamela for help. Her job was arranging user training. Since she knew the users better than we did, we wanted her help in deciding what links should be on the Welcome page and bookmark bar.

Things started out fine. Pamela gave us some good information. Then things started to get out of hand. Pamela asked for more and more complex items that would be useful to fewer and fewer people. So we trimmed her list.

The result was arguments in the hall, slamming of phones, involvement of managers, and too many meetings. When the vice presidents started calling, Dilbert and I went into hiding while Lenny did extra laps around the perimeter fence and Wally had another stale scone.

The deadline approached like a herd of hungry fleas, while Pamela continued to request more and more changes. Dilbert had essentially re-written Notes security, now she wanted him to re-write the rest of Notes and Domino. The deadline slipped a week. Pamela went on vacation. Dilbert and I convinced our manager to release Notes.

We started converting users -- 300 at a time, twice a week. Almost half the users had been migrated before Pamela returned. Not realizing this, she called another meeting to discuss further changes to the Notes calendar. It was Dilbert who bravely told her it was too late -- Notes was out -- maybe we could make the changes in the next release. Then we all ran for cover.