Live and kicking

My chatbot project reached its culmination last night. At 2.30am it went live. I wasn’t up for it – I’d been up till midnight checking in with Sydney and Bhopal – but I got a message at that time that it was done.

Coming into work this morning I knew it was one thing being deployed, but being successfully deployed was a different matter. We’d done all the testing and I was pretty confident with the design, but you never know. I was in a little after 8am and checked it out straight away. First glance it seemed fine. The next half hour I checked it over, found a couple of minor issues, but in general felt relieved.

It’s a few hours on now and nothing yet has come crawling out of the woodwork. Too early to make anything of the basic metrics, but early indications are that uptake has increased, handling rates are much improved, and it appears less come through to an agent to handle.

That probably doesn’t make sense much to you and that’s fine. It’s probably a bit boring too. For me, it feels quite an accomplishment because like no other project I’ve been involved with this is all me. Scandalously so. I was the BA and project manager. I came up with the design, I wrote the scripts, defined the rules. I did all the comms for it. Throughout I had no-one meaningful to turn to for assistance outside the developers who, regardless, are only doing what I tell them to do. And leading into this I had no experience in this nor any special insight – I had to figure it out for myself and apply it using my best judgement.

That was one of the issues going through, one of faith. This was my baby, but was it the right baby? I mean, did I have a true and accurate perspective of it? Was the solution I defined the correct one? I’m a confident man but I’m not stupid. You need other perspectives and contrary voices, but every time I sought one the feedback was blandly encouraging – this is great, H! – or non-committal. When I went to the managers seeking their input and feedback I got fucking zilch (a good indication of how timid they are. No-one will go out on a limb, that’s left to me).

And so I had to keep forging ahead pretty well solo. And now it’s in and working and looking good and yes, very early days yet, but it looks like it hit the mark.

Not surprisingly I feel pretty frazzled now. That’s often the case when a big project finally comes to fruition. You’ve held it in for so long working intently towards a goal that a part of you is permanently tensed. Then it is implemented and you hold your breath until the point comes that realise that yes, it works as you planned. Then it catches up with you. All the pent up stuff is let out. You relax finally, what a fucking relief!

Anyway, I’ll be here over the next week tracking it pretty closely to make sure nothing untoward pops up. We’ll be extending it further now it’s been deployed successfully, and it will become a much bigger thing. And now I’ve got to knuckle down and finalise the reports I’ve been designing. No rest for the wicked.

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