Deployment planning of a business must be done systematically. The introduction involves dozens of people from different areas. Some of them are participating in a project for the first time.
The goal is to ensure that deployment does not pose a problem for the business and that the benefits are quickly available.
Deployment planning process generally
In order to avoid “empty table syndrome”, project managers will first create a preliminary outline of the cutover. Below is an example of the steps and the schedule.
Risk analysis at a company level
By doing a risk analysis, you know which things to put into focus and which functions should be strictly safeguarded.
Here are some questions that help in risk analysis.
This estimates the risks of deployment at company level. Function-specific risks arise when you go through a deployment plan within the business.
1) What problems would the media write about in the case of failure? What kind of risk does the failure cause for a company’s brand?
2) Customer interface: Which problems would cause dissatisfaction with customers?
3) Which of the processes (in connection with the deployment) generates revenue?
4) Risks associated with software vendor. For example, the ability to meet the challenges of deployment.
5) Are there risks from third parties? Could the current vendor’s actions pose problems? How about key resources and their availability?
6) If the deployment is canceled at the last minute (rollback), how much will it cost?
7) What length of service breaks are allowed? How much does it cost per hour?
8) Finance: If there are any problems with billing, how long will it take to be resolved before it appears as a problem with the cash flow? Do you have to prepare somehow?
9) Resources: What if something happens to the key resource? For example, getting sick during deployment?
The goal is NOT to make a risk matrix and a great picture for the steering group. The purpose is to make a description in plane language, that will help us to know which things to put into focus.
- All pretasks are done
- A small celebration to thank for the good work
- Day off.
- Resources are resting to make the weekend work
- Planned activites
- Make sure everything is ready for cutover
- Business finalize works at current systems
- Action time 19:00 pm to 02:00 am.
- Planned cut over activities
- Production use starts at 08:00
- The project supports business
Business during cutover
After introducing the plan, the business has to go through it. It is best to do a walk through in small groups department by department to ensure that every area is thoroughly considered.
- Explain what it is all about on a general level.
- Find out how to do business operations normally, during the scheduled deployment
- Make sure there is no specific actions at the time of deployment. For example, campaigns, fairs, service breaks etc.
- Go through what changes the deployment will bring to business.
- Introduce the draft deployment plan, emphasizing that it is still a draft.
- Go through who should be informed about the deployment.
- Try to figure out the risks that the deployment could cause for the department in question.
- Determine whether the scheduled downtime is possible.
Making a technical plan is usually the easiest part. Making a plan must be done by the supplier. If the deployment involves third parties, it should also be introduced to them.
- Technical actions
- Necessary Downtime
- Technical risk analysis
- Resource plan
- Preparing for unexpected situations
Migration / conversion plan
Generally, the master data and event information from the old system is moved to a new one.
Some migrations can be made before the actual cutover, some must be done during downtime.
Since the validity of master data and event information is the basis for a functioning system, it is important to focus on this design. In the cutover practice, live data migration has a big role.
Deployment tasks and schedule
Once the activities have been collected, it’s time to put together the deployment plan.
It is also advisable to allocate tasks according to the schedule to allow for the follow-up during the deployment process. It is also important for the rollback plan that the tasks are done at the right time, in the right order.
The plan walkthrough
It is important to make sure that you have time to review the deployment plan. It is good to question the plan in order to find all the deficiencies and errors. This is one of the most important meetings on the way to successful deployment. If you get the business people involved on general level, it supports the plan for a truly progressive deployment.
Make the necessary corrections to the plan based on the results of the survey.
Now plan version 0,8 ready
Now the deployment plan is ready for testing. The deployment test is carried out with a cutover practice, from which it will be discussed further.
Cutover practice planning
The objectives of the development project in general are:
- Ensure that the solution to be deployed supports the business needs.
- Ensure that deployment does not jeopardize business.
The solution is often tested only from the point of view where the solution is already installed for production use. Implementation of the solution often is not tested. There is some technical testing for migration and integration. But from a business point of view, implementation testing is not even planned. It is also important to ensure the success of the deployment.
Idea of cutover practice
The Cutover practice is a good tool to ensure the success of the deployment. The method is simple but effective.
The cutover practice simulates the deployment tasks for approval testing environments.
The findings are either bugs or repair requests for the deployment plan. At the same time, the time elapsed can be recorded. This will test the schedule for the deployment plan. For example, the length of the downtime.
The deployment of the solution will take place during the weekend. Cutover starts on Friday and production usage on Monday. The cutover practice simulates overdrawing as follows
- Pre-tasks are done before Wednesday
- The tasks scheduled for Friday will be simulated on Thursday
- The Activities of Saturday and Sunday are simulated on Friday
- Production validation will be simulated on Monday morning
- Go/NoGO decision on Monday
The above Go / NoGO decision is a concrete decision point. If serious problems arise as a result of the cutover practice, you have to think about whether or not to start acceptance testing according to plan.
Benefits of cutover practice
- The Cut over practice is a method to ensure the deployment of the business
- In addition to the technical point of view, users’ expertise can be tested
- Based on the findings in the exercise, the quality of the deployment plan is improved.
- Testing quality improves when acceptance testing is set up systematically. High quality setting ensures that no expensive time is spent. You can concentrate on finding the critical mistakes
Finalize the plan
Based on the results of the cutover practice, the plan can be completed. Review all the findings and make corrections based on them.
Risks and solutions
Go through the deployment risks. Find solutions and prevent risks from berising realization.
Make a resource plan. Who is available on the spot and who could be a backup.
Freeze time / downtime plan
Plan the time and order of activities for the actual downtime / freezing time.
Plan communication carefully at different levels:
- The core of the project
- All project resources
- Third parties, vendors, go-operators, suppliers
The final guarantee of successful deployment is a good deployment support plan. A couple of important things to consider.
- Each finding should be registered to ProjectTOP, so that the need for support can be derived. Remember to use ProjectTOP’s e-mail integration and form functionality.
- Do not allow yourself to become accustomed to many small issues that may end up being a big problem. Make sure that you have the ability to resolve any findings that occurs.
- Make sure the support is provided from the right level. The best professionals are solving the most challenging problems. Key users give support to the end users. Make sure the reporting of findings is of high quality to make the solutions effective.
- Book the status meetings in advice. During the meetings the situation will be assessed, some open issues resolved and how to proceed will be decided.
The rollback plan is like insurance. If there are problems with the deployment after careful planning, then you can return to the existing systems.
Rollback plans must be made at every decision-making point because the rollback at various stages is different. For example:
- Before cutover has started
- Mainly for information on a new timetable
- Handling of pre-made technical preparations
- After the actual cutover, before the start of production use
- The ramp-up of the existing systems
- Restarting interfaces / integrations
- Other project specific tasks
- After production use has started
- This must be planned on a case-by-case basis depending on how complex the project is.
- Point after rollback is not possible anymore
- It is good to plan, after which point, rollback is no longer possible.
Rollback plan entails tasks for the deployment plan. For example, recovering events or taking backups. Add these tasks to the deployment plan.
When the plan is ready, then it’s time to publish it.
- Make a top-level presentation that makes it easy to communicate with the launch process
- Publish project activities from ProjectTOP Gantt. Activities will move to My Activities
- Set status as open, for activities that can be executed. Set status as waiting, for future activities.
- Make calendar reservations. For critical tasks, it is best to reserve the time in resources calendars to ensure that they are not stolen for other tasks.
- Go through each activity with the resource. Everyone needs to know what to do and why.