Thursday, November 11, 2010

Notes from an LMS upgrade

I am sharing the note I sent to my management chain regarding the upgrade. Names have been changed ...because.....

I did NOT change the name of the LMS vendor, because I thought they did a bang-up job with this new version and with the upgrade.

The SkillPort upgrade that occurred on October 15th was successful.

Time scheduled: 12:01am October 15th - 8:00am October 16th (32 hours)
Actual time: 12:01am October 15th -7:30pm October 15th (19.5 hours with end user testing)

General Comments

I was impressed by the teamwork demonstrated by the IT department during this process. These teams were kind enough to help without requiring a project manager or a lot of browbeating.

- The (Portal Team) did a great job testing the LDAP. The code for LDAP worked without a hitch. M also called me to make sure everything was working correctly once SkillSoft notified us that the update was complete.

- P set up the redirect page we provided and took it down as requested. He also did a fantastic job of following up with me to make sure everything was in place for the upgrade day.

Lessons learned

- This is the second time the search function in our SkillSoft installation was missing some features (instructor-led training, custom content, learning programs) after upgrade. B caught this Monday morning when he went looking for instructor-led classes. SkillSoft fixed it 24 hours later. There was a workaround using Catalog that we could use in the meantime. I need to incorporate a fuller search test into my post-upgrade test scripts.

- Now that I know there is a change board approving outages, I will start that process much earlier. Especially since SkillPort upgrades require downtime during normal business hours.

-The batch add templates changed unexpectedly. This was a detail I missed when preparing for the upgrade. LC and the enterprise development team are working to revise the report so the resulting .csv file meets the new template. Thankfully, the batch add process did not break altogether and I can quickly make the conversion to the new format with the previous report. I will need to take a closer look at our batch add processes and current reporting needs during the next upgrade.

Feedback on SkillPort 7.0 so far

- Overwhelmingly positive. General feedback - it is easier to find things, especially in the Search and Learn section.

- Also receiving positive feedback on the new My Progress section of the site. Especially when I show them the printable reports and how to view ALL of the items done since SkillPort went live.

I will be receiving a LOT more feedback during today's SkillPort session during Service Excellence and will forward any specific feedback to the team.

Update: Feedback during the Service Excellence session was also positive. This tells me that the vendor did a great job making the interface more user-friendly.


It feels good to be able to send a positive email regarding an upgrade to management. Particularly when the potential for disaster on both the vendor AND client end was high.

After working with the new system for a bit, I am finding some odds and ends quirks. Often, those quirks fall under the "That's NEAT!" category rather than the "Ugh, gotta work around this" category. Pretty rare for software upgrades.

The biggest process that broke is the ability to directly link specific tutorials to things like emails and external web sites.

Unfortunately, we could not accurately test this with the sandbox environment before the upgrade. I'm afraid this is a result of the re-design / re-code and how SkillPort 7.0 brings up tutorial information.

The initial process was jury-rigged anyway, but that jury-rigged process has become an important part of our operations.

Thankfully, SkillSoft has proven to be incredibly responsive. I think this will be an issue that is resolved in short-order. Fingers crossed.

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