A Quick Guide to Project Management Methodology

Phase 8 – Post-Deployment

This final Project Phase post concludes my overview of the hybrid PM methodology that I use whenever possible on PM engagements. The final phase – Phase 8 Post-Deployment – occurs post-implementation and suggests a more hands-on level of post-implementation support from the delivery team.

First, to recap, the first seven phases we’ve covered so far are:

  • Phase 1 – Project Kickoff
  • Phase 2 – Exploration
  • Phase 3 – Design
  • Phase 4 – Development
  • Phase 5 – Testing
  • Phase 6 – Training
  • Phase 7 – Deployment

Through the first seven 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
  • Production environment
  • Live data load to production environment
  • Deployed production-ready system (signoff required)

There are a few ways to go about your post-implementation activities on an IT project. One way, of course, is to just hand your customer off to the tech support group and treat everything as a potential ticket. If you’re set up well to track trouble tickets and have a very competent IT support staff, then this method should provide you with a great tracking mechanism and should provide your customer with solid support. However, before doing the hand-off to tech support, I suggest you perform another step first.

In a Professional Services organization, the PM, the BA, the developers, the architects, and the data specialists likely all have other active projects as well as new engagements they’re starting to roll on to. However, I am a firm believer in doing whatever possible to keep the existing delivery team at least partially together to provide hands-on, call-me-on-the-batphone type support to your newly implemented customer for at least a 30 day window – 60 would be even better. Why? Because it’s good business. Because it may mean the difference between future engagements with this customer and them moving on to another vendor next time around. Because you’ve held the bicycle and ran along side them for probably 6-12 months and you shouldn’t just push them out into the street now that they’re finally getting the hang of it.

They’re going to fall…something always breaks. And for at least a post-implementation 30-day window, the people who know it best – who just finished implementing the solution – should be the ones doing the break/fix work quickly on it. Trust me, your customer will agree. If it isn’t part of your company’s sales discussion, then I wouldn’t be surprised if the customer brings it up during Project Kickoff. It’s important to them and during the project they’re constantly looking toward that day when they have to take their first steps alone…and it scares them. Make it easy…and stick with them.

At this point, it’s also a good idea to re-connect with the customer on one or more meetings to come up with a Lessons Learned knowledge database. This will help in three areas:

  • Provide the delivery team with good feedback and useful info for future engagements
  • Document project specific issues that may be relevant to tech support after hand-off
  • Increase customer satisfaction and provide the customer with useful project information as they move into the post-implementation support mode

Once the agreed upon Post-Deployment support window is complete, train the customer on your ticket submission system or ensure they have direct phone access to tech support. You’ll also need to bring tech support up to speed on the customer-side project team or production contacts and provide them with any relevant information that came out of the project that will help them going forward to provide the best support possible to the customer. If you’ve produced a Communcations Plan for this project, this is a great time to update it with post-implementation contact information on both sides of the project and re-distribute.

At this point, you’re done. Congratulations, you’ve successfully concluded your IT implementation and passed a hopefully satisfied customer off to support…and you’re ready to start it all over again. Good luck.

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