A critical aspect of any technology project is how to move from the stages where you do all the heavy lifting and hard work, over to the stage where users can actually use the system.
Some would say that the heavy lifting starts there!
Getting the system to the users can be hard – despite the fact that the obstacles are well-known, have been with us for as long as I can remember, and are really not so hard to avoid – challenges remain, and they are significant.
For example, often some of the most critical people in the project don’t become involved until the eleventh hour. If it’s an enterprise line-of-business application, maybe you didn’t talk to the folks on the fifteenth floor in Marketing about what they really need the app to do.
If it’s a consumer-facing product, maybe you didn’t get any real users onto the system during any phase of the development and testing.
Another way things can go – sort of the opposite of not getting the right people involved until too late – is kicking people off the project because you don’t see their role as being one closely involved with deployment.
For example, a new system will have the potential for a huge number of bugs in core functionality as soon as it actually gets in front of users. In fact, the software might seem practically unuseable at the start. But the best people to fix those bugs are already working on something else and consumed with new problems.
So get your developers into the deployment!
Assign one of your most trusted programmers to be immediately available to fix problems: Fix the problem, get the users back running the system, get more feedback, improve the system, etc…
Both of these are good ideas – basically getting and keeping the right people engaged at the most critical moments.
And yet, we rarely do either of these things, and we feel the impact of the poor alternatives.
Deployment doesn’t have to be a drain on user productivity or an obstacle in the road to future product development. If you look at it instead as a valuable opportunity to efficiently make huge gains in system quality, then you’ll really start to benefit from all that deployment has to offer.
Got a deployment story you’d like to share? 🙂