Nimble On-boarding, supporting and transforming a large scale Sitecore project for Zurich.ie
The team over at Zurich Ireland got in touch with us as they had just had a large scale Sitecore site build using Sitecore's Customer Experience Platform (CxP) and the then titled SxA (Sitecore Experience Accelerator). The agency tasked with building the site had delivered the site but were not able to deliver support and enhancement at the pace that Zurich required which was causing a little frustration.
Zurich approached us to see if we could resolve some of the issues and offer ongoing support and enhancements to the site.
What we did
We took a rapid and honest approach with Zurich and proposed a short initial view on bringing the site into our support. We recognised that the site was large and complex, and in order to effectively review the site and move the support to another agency, could have been a protracted process in different hands. There was also a long wishlist of improvements that could have elongated the process even more. However, in line with our nimble outlook, we took a different approach.
We proposed that we take an initial overview of the site – pick up any high priority things that needed resolving, which included some of the changes that Zurich were looking for as part of the transition and just deal with those. This would mean that we could on-board the site within weeks rather than months. What we would then do is sort any of the issues we found while working with the site as we went along – this would allow us to prioritise them appropriately within the context of the Zurich Ireland team’s normal working requirements. They could be scheduled for attention from us alongside any new work planned.
By taking this approach we avoided spending lots of time taking a deep-dive into the site to tease out everything that might potentially be an issue and produced a long list of ‘best practice’ recommendations with an even longer production schedule that bore no relation to the priorities of the Zurich team with whom we had yet to see work with the site day to day. We made our assessment based on the immediate stability of the site and focused on the things that were already causing problems within the new Sitecore site. After cross-checking the issues based on interviews with the team we were able to address and quickly fix this concise list of issues as we moved the site into our care.
Once we had stewardship of the site and our support team was in place we could observe the site in use and with close communication with the content managers we reviewed some issues that very quickly become a source of user frustration after the new site had launched. As can often happen, when users started using the functionality the real requirements became apparent and it became clear that the way some of the components had been built weren't ideal. So we rebuilt or reworked some components that were hard to manage to make life easier and more efficient for the Zurich team.
When working with large organisation like Zurich, process is very important. One of the things we looked to do was run a couple of dress-rehearsals of the support process to ensure we weren’t caught out by anything. This uncovered a process issue, not related to the site at all, but with how we linked up with Zurich’s in-house support system and managed support tasks through our own reporting system. It’s funny how these can be the things to cause headaches and waste time, but it's just as important to make sure we get it right. So we got together with the client team and came up with a plan that would work before we went live. We’ve learned it’s worth running some real-world training scenarios with the team prior to delivering something like this as it allows us to prototype process and communication as well as technology.
In the subsequent six months a few issues from the original build reared their heads and we are still working to improve some of the lower priority items that crop up every now and again, but the onboarding was swift and successful, with risks removed for Zurich and KMP by us taking a nimble and honest approach to this – in the old world of on-boarding, how much tension is caused over the discussion of whose responsibility is it to pay for fixing an issue that wasn’t identified at the outset? The likelihood is that as good as your agency is, if your site is complex then they won’t catch them all to begin with – and you can be OK with that. Once you have a team experienced in working with the site, they’ll see things differently and often come up with better more interesting solutions anyway. By doing things you’ll discover things – but you need an open and honest relationship to be able to do that.
I’ll be writing some other articles covering the other work that we’ve done for Zurich but in the 18 months since we took on the site we’ve helped to:
- Maximise Zurich Ireland's ability to use their Sitecore platform
- Simplify complex systems and processes saving time and money
- Deliver zero-downtime releases
- Use insights to save on unnecessary infrastructure with Azure
- Deliver a new broker platform
- Create Z-connect, a way for Zurich content managers to create client whitelabel site within minutes
- Collaborate to meet some seriously tight deadlines
- Deliver a new site for the Zurich sponsored Dalkey Literary Awards
- Deliver content managed quotation forms
And that is just the tip of a very large iceberg! With our nimble approach and a real collaborative effort on the part of the team at Zurich Ireland, we’ve been able to move quickly and effectively to deliver rapid solutions and improvements to the site.
Why Zurich chose KMP
Zurich selected KMP to become their support partner thanks to our wealth of Sitecore experience combined with our nimble approach to development. As a partner agency we could help them move quickly and efficiently, deliver rapid gains and show return on investment without the lags in time required by other teams to deliver on a project like this.
Our teams gelled well together – and this shouldn’t be underestimated. We have a very close working relationship with technical, marketing and project teams at Zurich that allow us to flex support hours in the most appropriate direction – sometimes this is delivering technical SEO, sometimes in building a proof of concept to deliver some highly technical feature, sometimes it is using our workshops to ensure we are all moving in the right direction. This also means the Zurich team have close working relationships with the team at KMP (not just our Client Services people).
What does this mean for you? Well here ae a few of my key takeaways.
- On boarding is complex, so accept that when you move a site your new team will continue to learn; don’t expect everything to be sorted on day one
- Don’t waste time on the less important stuff straight away
- Never miss the chance to rehearse
- Invest time in building a relationship with your supplier and encourage openness
- It is amazing what you can achieve in a short time with smart people
And we are always here for advice, if you need some help with your Sitecore site then please, let's talk.