Friday, 18 May 2012

Training days

It's daft really: the hard slog of the past few months has felt like a phoney war, despite the fact that there's been a lot of work and a good number of real successes along the way.
  • The test data load from Dynix to Spydus has gone surprisingly well, with scarcely any glitches (I'm still waiting for the first shoe to drop, let alone the second).
  • The MARC mapping of the Dynix seems to be good enough to do the job of converting to MARC21 in Spydus. Hats off to Anne Whiteley who did the original mapping back in 1990, armed only with commonsense and a manual she'd borrowed as a Regional Loan. My contribution to the cause has been a rank lack of commonsense and whatever I can crib off the good folks on th'interweb.
  • We've got a good project plan and we're making the Library Service work to it. The good news is that nearly everyone involved is relieved to have some sort of structure to hang onto when things start getting giddy.
Next week we start two weeks' worth of "subject expert" training, the hardest part of which is convincing some people that they really are the local experts in their field.

Once that's done I've got a couple of weeks in which to do as much configuration as possible before we start training the trainers. If we can get as much of the configuration as possible done during the subject expert training we'll have a fighting chance of hitting our end of July deadline.

We're hoping that two decisions will help us a lot. The first is that I won't be delivering the training myself, which is a blow personally (it's one of the things I seriously enjoy doing) but it's the only way I'll have the time to be able to work on the outstanding technical details, including the interfaces we're requiring with other systems such as smartsm, the Local Land & Property Gazeteer and the corporate finance systems. It'll also give me space and time to respond to any issues or ideas arising from the training sessions being delivered throughout June.

Which brings me to the second decision: we've selected a group of trainers who'll act as champions and first line of support within the library servce. These are all Library Service staff, some managers but mostly front-line and all volunteers. In fact, twice as many people as we needed volunteered to be trainers, which is a bit gratifying. They'll have three pretty intensive days in which to get to grips with the new Circulation system and put together a package that can be delivered in a one-day training session for front-line staff. Which start the following week.

Tight deadlines; some hard decisions to be made about what to leave out of the training packages; and impossible if you're not documenting what you're doing and communicating in minutes and hours, not days and weeks. I'm lucky: the Data Hub has a couple of Project Assistants and one of them will be working with me on this project. That should mean we can get some real-time communication between training sessions and myself so that we can address issues on the fly and record the changes as we go along. He's only been with us a week so he's walking in completely fresh with no preconceptions or baggage, poor devil!

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