At Brooks International, we use the terms “dry run” and “wet run” to describe activity leading to the “I Date,” where the client’s strategic imperative is fully implemented and beginning to return benefits at the rate required in the initial agreement (cash flow).
A Salem Daily News article from July 6, 1896, describes a contest between fire companies as dry runs (this is the first known usage of the term). The contests did not use water. Fire company drills with water were and may still be known as wet runs.
You can think of dry running and wet running as drills like in firefighting, or in terms of testing the changes that are being implemented to a client’s operating model. In practice, dry runs are conducted as soon as there is a design of an operating model component or tool. When we perform a dry run, we are using the tool or technique for the first time, and, as such, the consultant is the person conducting it.
For example, let’s say there is a backlog control that we want to test (dry run). The consultant would go through the process of filling in the beginning backlog as the tool requires. The consultant would then monitor the incoming work in the manner required by the tool and complete that section of the tool. He or she would identify the work processed for the time period required and enter that into the tool. Finally, the consultant would calculate the ending backlog. Once the tool has been put through its paces, the consultant would review it with his or her manager and the client.
By going through this process, the Brooks International consultant becomes intimately familiar with the tool and can clearly see implementation challenges and potential issues with the design. This understanding is used to make modifications to the design. Making modifications is known as iteration, and dry runs and wet runs result in iterative changes to the operating model design.
After dry running and making any necessary iterative changes until we’re 100 percent certain everything is working as it should, the Brooks International process is to conduct a wet run at least two weeks prior to the “I Date.” The wet run is the end-to-end test of the operating model changes with significant client involvement. At the end of the wet run, the client should be doing it all. Wet running is effectively the final stage of implementing the new tool or operating model.
At the end of the wet run, the process change is fully implemented and results are annualizing at the required rate. In order to wet run properly, all the changes to the operating model have to be designed, tested and documented. When we begin the wet run there should be a complete area manual. As with dry running, we will iterate and make adjustments during the wet run as necessary, but our documentation should be complete before the end of the wet run.
When we follow this process, our implementations are extremely effective and we ensure the client is fully prepared to continue this process on its own. Wet running and dry running ensures we have a complete and on-time implementation with the appropriate quality in place.