Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Go Live

We did it! I’m so pleased right now… Pleased, satisfied and a bit proud!

After over one year of hard work, stress, deadlines, milestones, test, planning and follow up we went live with the system the other day. The project had a service-window from 2200 hrs to 0500 hrs to perform the migration to the new hardware and a newer version of the software. If we weren’t ready with the migration until 0230 we had to rollback everything and go back to the old hardware and software. Even though we encountered some unexpected issues during the night we managed to keep to our checklists and timeplan. We were ready at 0200 hrs and all of us drew a sigh of relief. The operations on site started as usual at 0500 hrs without any impact and the users (250 users) did not even notice that we had changed a lot of things for the during the night. We all were very satisfied with our work.

The impact if we had failed was a loss of ~$200 000/day and a lot of bad publicity if we had failed with the migration and also failed with a possible rollback. It would not have been fun to communicate such a thing. The pressure was there but all of us manage to keep it together and solve the issues that we found directly.

There are a number of things that you should think of when you should Go Live with a new system;

* Preparations are important
The success of your Go Live is often directly dependent on very good preparations. Think of a team of doctors and nurses that will perform an operation. All of the team-members are aware of their role and responsibility well before the operation. The same goes for a Go Live in your project. All resources involved must be aware about the role, responsibility and what is expected from them before you enter the Go Live phase. What do you do if something goes wrong? All of the resources in an team of surgeons and nurses knows what to do if anything goes wrong with the patient. I do not recommend you to start thinking about a backup-plan when something goes wrong during a Go Live, this must have been defined way before you do the Go Live. It is also important that all involved resources are aware about the total plan and how important his/her part is. All need to see and understand the total plan for the Go Live.

* Stick to the plan.
Do not deviate from the plan if you not absolutely must. All involved parties know the plan and you will swim into deep and dark water if you need to deviate from the plan during a Go Live. The need of detailed co-ordination will dramatically increase if you need to introduce new steps during the Go Live-phase. Try to avoid this and stick to the plan as far as you can.

* Slack in the plan
Have slack in the Go Live-plan! Issues will often arise and you need time to fix them. You will often run into unexpected issues that must be solved directly and you need to plan for it.

* Verification- and decision-points
Plan for verification-points in the middle of the Go Live-process if possible. In conjunction with these you also need to plan for decision-points were you decide if you are good to continue or if you need to abort and perform a rollback.

* Correct resources
Make sure that you have the correct resources for the Go Live. Who can solve difficult issues directly if needed? Who do you trust? Who will cope with working under pressure? Also make sure that you have backups for all the most important roles during the Go Live.

* You can not prepare for everything.
If something can go wrong, things will go wrong. Plan for problems and make sure that you have the correct resources in the room to solve upcoming issues. This is also a physiological game, if all the resources knows that the project is well prepared and have the correct resources they will also perform better under pressure.

* Identify the risk and mitigate them
You often have the possibility identify quite many risks before the Go Live. This is a great opportunity to increase the possibility of a successful Go Live for your project. . If you work actively with the risk’s you will soon notice that the probability and impact of the risk’s decreases and in that way the possibility of a successful Go Live increases.

I wish you all a great day in your project management life.



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