For some time Catalyst have been developing a new look and feel for our sales and purchase order processing modules. We recently made significant but invisible filing changes under the surface to pave the way for later improvements. These underlying changes are now widely in use, all users who have updated their software in the last couple of months will have these changes but hopefully have noticed no difference. The actual difference is coming very shortly, a completely new look and feel to the software.
It’s always difficult for a software company. You’ve developed a much better product than the current one but the current product is stable and reliable and a large number of companies depend on it. Both we and our customers want the new product but with "new" there is the inevitable risk of unexpected problems.
The big question is how to ensure that our customers do not suffer from any unexpected problems along with the benefits. The answer is of course that "guinea pigs" are called for. In these enlightened times one cannot experiment on animals so I thought it may be interesting to show how we have approached this particular problem.
In the spirit of making the situation as close to that expected when a user of our software upgrades we installed the upgrade on our own system without informing any of out staff that it was going to happen. The "let people find it and see how they used it experiment" was performed here. Yes a few issues were found and improvements made as a result. We at Catalyst have been running the new version for a couple of weeks now and everyone is happy with the results.
The next logical step? A "Go live" with a very much larger client.
Yesterday the brave client updated to the new version. The chosen client is a very significant parts distributor as well a major franchised motorcycle dealer. In short, this user was chosen because they use the order processing systems heavily and in a broad range of differing ways. This is obviously a nervous time for all involved, yes everything has been done to ensure things should go well but ultimately it’s a serious test for the software.
We in fact continue to have a senior programmer present on site because the consequences of any problem could potentially cause major and urgent consequences to a business as busy as this one.
- We are happy to report things went very well, and continue to look very good into day two. What this means for the future is that our plans for a general release of the very much prettier order processing system around the end of the month are on track and that it will be as well "tried and tested" as is possible on that day.