A Quick Guide to Project Management Methodology

Phase 7 – Deployment

The first six phases that I’ve recently covered are:

  • Phase 1 – Project Kickoff
  • Phase 2 – Exploration
  • Phase 3 – Design
  • Phase 4 – Development
  • Phase 5 – Testing
  • Phase 6 – Training

Through the first six phases we’ve delivered to the customer the following:

  • Kickoff meeting
  • Revised schedule (on-going)
  • Business Requirements Document (signed off)
  • Functional Design Document (signed off)
  • Weekly status meetings (on-going)
  • Weekly status reports (on-going)
  • Revised risks/issues list (on-going)
  • Technical Design Document (optional to the customer with no formal signoff)
  • Developed system (no signoff required)
  • QA/Test Plan (signoff optional)
  • UAT (official signoff on production-ready system)
  • Training plan (deliverable – signoff optional)
  • Training materials (deliverable – signoff optional)
  • Training environment
  • Training data in training database

We are now ready to discuss the actual deployment phase of the project. A successful UAT has been completed and signed off, the training process has been completed and we’re ready to move the production-ready solution to a production environment and signoff on go-live.

Production environment

Sometime during training on an IT project, the production environment has been readied – either hosted on the delivery team’s side or at the actual client site. Either way, considerable setup (and already agreed-upon ordering of equipment, etc.) has happened and environment testing and performance tuning has likely taken place.

Production data load

Depending on the dynamic nature of the live data for the project, the timing and process for the production data load can be very critical. The key of course is to perform the data cutover as close to go-live as possible while maintaining business continuity and ensuring the on-going integrity of the data.

Data cleansing, data preparation and data loading has been underestimated and undervalued on more than one IT implementation and can sometimes be a make-it-or-break-it variable in the project schedule and project budget. However, a good Project Manager, Software Developer, Data Integrator, and Software Architect will have already reviewed the data closely early in the engagement and undergone at least partial test loads to the development, testing and training environments. So, as the delivery team readies for go-live, the actual data load to production should be well thought out and fairly straightforward.

Customer review/go-live signoff

Once the production environment is setup and tuned, the production data is loaded and the production-ready system is given the green light by the delivery team, it is time to get official go-live signoff from the customer sponsor or designated representative. This is critical…don’t let it slip through the cracks. Depending on how your project is set up and how billing is handled, this could mean the difference between your company getting that next pay installment or accounting showing up in your office wondering why the last invoice is 90 days past due. Get official signoff. If the customer is happy and things are going well, they’ll signoff. If things are sketchy, stay with it, ensure the customer that the same team members will be engaged on Phase 8 – Post-Deployment for ‘x’ number of days and that you’ll be right there to support them performing any break/fix work. Either way, get them to officially signoff on paper for the go-live.

Up next

We’ve deployed the system and now we’re ready for production support. I believe in a Post-Deployment phase where the original team is available for, say, 30 days after go-live to support the customer, handle concerns and perform break/fix work before passing everything off to technical support. It’s a show of good faith and keeps the customers coming back for more work.

To recap…

Deployment Phase Deliverables:

  • Production environment
  • Live data load to production environment
  • Deployed production-ready system (signoff required)
  • Revised Project Schedule (revised weekly as needed)
  • Revised Risk/Issues List
  • Weekly Project Status Reports
  • Weekly Project Status Meetings

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