It’s the year 2000. The millennium problem had just been conquered and mobile phones were only used by big shots. I had just graduated and worked on some small local projects, when the opportunity came along to join a major project for a large international company. While I was quickly working on my English vocabulary and pronunciation, I took my first steps in the world of SAP and a whole landscape of connected applications. I started working together with team members from different parts of the world. Since interaction was only done via e-mail and phone calls, it was an exciting outlook to meet people in real life when after one year of working from a distance a central on-site user acceptance test was planned.
The test activities should be executed in Atlanta, Georgia. It was my first traveling to the US and even my first time flying in general. Since I wanted to be fit and well prepared on the Monday morning, I travelled two days early. So did other colleagues, and on Sunday I met some of the people that I recognized from the voices on the many phone calls. In the evening there were already around 30 people from Asia, Europe, and the America’s, all travelled around and prepared to start the acceptance testing.
That Monday morning the kick off started punctually at 9am. Introductions, instructions and test scripts were dealt with and laptops and desktops were switched on. After the first coffee rumor spread some people couldn’t connect to one of the main test systems. I tried myself and strange enough I had the same problem. Shortly after 11am it appeared nobody could connect, and it became very crowded in the coffee corner. The test manager was making loud calls and busy conversations and looked kind of stressed. Around noon it appeared that the main test system was down for planned maintenance and according to planning it would only be back on Wednesday evening.
There we were, 30 people travelling in their weekend from all over the world, staying in hotels and being together for one week to work in a single room somewhere in the world. Unfortunately the first three days of the week we couldn’t do anything because of an unknown planning conflict with another team. A big disappointment for the world travelers, and even worse for the project and the company.
The experience from the year 2000 always stayed in my mind and now that I have work experience in many other companies I can conclude that those kind of issue keep popping up at times. Projects and teams have secure individual plannings but are not fully aware of conflicts with other projects and activities. Many times that lack of awareness leads to unexpected system unavailability, which in turn leads to running out of plannings and deadlines. From those experiences the idea arose to develop software to help companies getting central insight into the availability of systems in their system landscape. This idea was turned into an actual development project in 2018 when one of our customers was looking for tooling in the market but couldn’t find anything. The first version of ERMplanner was born.
Today my company is working on version 2.7 of ERMplanner. To complete the circle, we recently had contact with the company were it all started in the year 2000. Some of the people from the Atlanta test week are still around and believe it or not, similar issues are still occurring today. The company is very interested in the tooling that we have built over the years. Two weeks ago we had an implementation workshop and in a few weeks a pilot is started to work with ERMplanner and get better insight in all the activities affecting their system availability. A successful implementation in this company would be the crowning glory of our work and I could even think of retiring.
Ronald Vreugdenhil, Founder of ERMplanner
Ronald Vreugdenhil studied Computer Science and worked as a consultant in the SAP logistics and workforce management areas. He has over 20 years of national and international project experience.
Since 2009 he is co-owner of PeachGroup, helping organizations to improve their service and maintenance processes. In 2017 he founded ERMplanner. ERMplanner is standard software to turn your release planning into reliable deliveries. It prevents conflicts between individual schedules of release-, change-, project- and test managers so that all planned work can be carried out according to schedule.