Spectrum Gets Off the Ground (1995-1996)
Clearly, Spectrum was needed. The first version of Spectrum would be deployed at Minnesota. Working out of a 1,000-square-foot office in North Carolina and connecting to Minnesota via a modem, the FARRAGUT developers got to work. Converting Minnesota to a different flavor of COBOL with an Oracle database went fairly smoothly.
The years 1995-1996 were marked by frustration. “It was hard to get the specs under control,” said McTeer. “We didn’t yet have a well-developed capability as an organization. Conversations tended to be circular. People felt things were obvious. Meetings took up lots of time.”
When Wisconsin and North Carolina finally did go live with their first version of Spectrum, each of the bureaus held a celebration. It was the culmination of years of hard work. But it was still just the beginning of a long journey.
Removing the Training Wheels (1997-2000)
In November of 1997, Bruce Tollefson became president of the Minnesota bureau. Although Spectrum was still in its infancy, Tollefson quickly became an evangelist. “It was clearly a great way to save costs, but even more than that, getting the independent DCOs to operate in a more similar fashion helps the whole industry significantly,” said Tollefson.
Tollefson’s leadership came at a pivotal time. “He is a visionary,” said Jain. “And he has great relationship skills. Slowly, the vision began to pull together.”
FARRAGUT added new modules and applications to Spectrum and began to prepare the system for Y2K, a “pretty traumatic time” as Tollefson remembers. “Each of our shops had to go through a major data conversion to migrate the data and time ran out, none of us had yet gone live. It dawned on me that we just needed to pick a date and say come hell or high water we are going.”
The conversion went well, and subsequently Wisconsin and North Carolina followed suit. The Spectrum Partners/FARRAGUT team were picking up steam and gaining confidence as they sailed into 2000.