One of the most important aspects of preparing for a release event is ensuring that the people running it are sufficiently supported. Though technical preparedness is crucial for success, ultimately it is the people involved that are responsible for making the release happen. Below are five good practices for supporting your team during a critical system release.
1. Make pre-release preparations
There are multiple steps and processes that need to be completed before a critical release event can go ahead, such as ensuring technology readiness, getting the appropriate sign-offs, user acceptance testing and change governance. Basic arrangements also need to be made for the physical needs of the people who will be working over the release weekend. This includes arranging for air conditioning to be on in the office and food to be supplied. Simple measures like this to ensure that everyone working over the weekend can eat, drink and be comfortable are essential pre-event preparations that are easily overlooked.
2. Formalize go/no-go decisions
Go/no-go decisions and sign-offs should be formalized to avoid ambiguity and delays during the event. No individual should feel personally at risk when making decisions or feel that they do not have the sufficient information or authority to perform their tasks. Formalizing these decisions beforehand will prevent delays and help the event to run more smoothly.
This also applies to the back end and should include anything identified as covered under the warranty for the first weeks or months after the implementation. While projects are temporary vehicles for enacting change, the event team is still responsible for its outcome until the new system is fully integrated and business as usual can resume. Clear decision making is just as important in this period as during the event weekend itself.
3. Align business and tech
Before the live weekend, the people running the technology and business sides of the event work separately, but they need to be able to work together for the release to be a success. During the event, the technology team hand over the system to the people who will be using it on the business side. The two have to work side-by-side to ensure that the system works and that those on the business side of things can use it to its full potential. It is therefore essential that the preparation and the event is collaborative to ensure a successful transfer of knowledge and that the promised value is delivered.
4. Provide context
Providing context for how they fit into the event as a whole allows people to have a better understanding of its overall goals and desired outcome. Visibility via live dashboards gives team members information on whether they are behind or ahead of time, can help them to spot problems early on and course correct when necessary. Understanding their context in the event motivates people and keeps them informed, empowering them to make better decisions.
5. Perfect the process with post-implementation reviews
Having the capability to perform an in-depth post-implementation review, based on real data and experience, can help to perfect the release process. Accumulating data and basing plans on what has been learned means that the people involved will be better set up for success in the future and the release process as a whole will improve.
Preparing the people running a critical event is key to a successful release and is just as important as technical preparedness. Ensuring that your team are motivated, informed and well supplied for will help them to achieve their full potential and increase the likelihood of success. While there has been increasing focus on automation in some areas of banking in recent years, key people will always be essential to critical events and technology can be used to assist rather than replace them.
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