The 1st of April meant so much to our organisation this year! A complete change in how we manage the delivery of clinical research in the NHS goes ‘live’. No fuss, no trumpets, it simply comes into being: a change from over 100 contracts across the NHS to just 15, a change that sees a network of organisations empowered to deliver and take ownership of clinical research  delivery still further.

For the area of the organisation that is tasked with delivering information systems to support research what does this mean? Well, firstly ‘big bang’ go live, something you are ‘taught’ to avoid at all costs needs to be done across multiple integrated systems for go live of the new structures, all at the same time on the same day! Changes to the data models, reference data, workflow, user based access controls, task labels, reporting infrastructures, web site addresses, you name it there is an IS component in there that needs to be changed as the clock ticks over into midnight plus one on the 1st of April.

Protecting ‘the business’ capability through this transition was something the team were tasked with managing, and rightly so. In a business where information is the foundation to what we do, this is a clear priority, the delivery of what we do needs to continue and performance needs to be maintained through any change.

The team has a strategy that by and large sees best of class solutions deployed across the infrastructure and therefore maintaining integration whilst delivering new systems is no easy ask. The control the team have applied to this is through the sharing of resource and a single model of understanding of the changes, not to mention some well placed business understanding and support. We are very lucky in that we have a development team that have an in-depth understanding of our business, our data structures and business needs. As a team the developers were able to get close to the business and the change programme to build a series of specifications in conjunction with the Business Analysis team. Not quite Agile but a hybrid model where the developer was able to translate the requirements directly with the business.

The 1st of April came and went, not completely smooth but the impact of many changes to the systems deployed was kept to as bare minimum as possible. The project and service wrap around the systems deployment was effective and we got to the 3rd of April with the ability to say all systems are live and functional for the new structures. Lessons learnt were how the team worked, how it got close to the business, and maintained that level of interaction throughout and also the level of interaction during go live, keeping all the key stakeholders informed and able to support and react if and when any issues came up.

All in all not an April fools day trick, just a really good result that will continue to be built upon over the next few weeks as any issues are reported, understood and fixed with cutover satisfaction at the heart of the delivery.