Consulting Wisdom #1: The Go-Live Mantra

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Considering this is the first “Consulting Wisdom” post of the Wisdom Series, I would like to explain my goal for this category. I’ve been in Consulting for almost six years now, all in the technical field. I don’t consider myself a guru, but over the years I’ve experienced a few things that I can share for everyone to learn from. That is the goal of this series, and I hope in some sort of fashion this may be of use to your career.

At some point in a project (hopefully), you’ll get to what we usually call the “Go-Live” day (i.e. the launch date,  the drop-dead day, the D-day, etc) and with that said, I say: CONGRATS!!!

Not a lot of projects reach this point of the game. If your team is one of the few ones, consider yourself lucky. It takes a combination of a good team, a reasonable client and a realistic project for this to happen. However, this eventful day where you turn the switch “ON” doesn’t usually go as easy as it sounds.

Have you heard of Murphy’s Law? Paraphrase in multiple ways, essentially it goes like this: “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong”. For multiple projects I’ve worked with, Go-Live day and Murphy’s Law usually goes hand-in-hand. It may not be everything going wrong but somewhere along the line there will be some sort of surprise that is unaccounted for. Regardless if you’re not the Tech Lead, Architect or some other leadership role there is one mantra that you should tell yourself:

We are going live today, We are going live today, We are going live today.

Go-Live dates are usually the most stressful time of the project. All the hard work, sleepless nights, endless meetings are now finally coming to fruition. It is your duty as a consultant to have this mantra and attitude that would affect not just your psyche, but also the client. Everyone will be antsy, especially the client, heck why wouldn’t they? They’ve paid us thousands of dollars to help them with their implementation. Some may even have their jobs on the line! If there’s a time to take some stress pills this would be the perfect time to do it. Honestly though, what truly would help you and your team is to have the right attitude when you reached this pivotal stage.

Arm with the right attitude everything becomes just a matter of execution. If something goes wrong, you would need to think on your feet and react smart and judiciously. It is without question a test of your wits in how to solve a problem the most efficient way as possible. Whether asking for some assistance from a team member, calling some assistance from a colleague, you must be ready to give your absolute best in getting over the hump.

One of the few things that most team at this stage worries about is whether or not everything is perfect. More than likely it won’t be. Heck, it’ll never be. Your goal and only goal for this day is not making sure its perfect, but rather getting the project live as scheduled. It is ok to have a patch or two after the release. What you need to worry about is what the client considers as the “show stoppers”.  If your team can resolve any of the show stoppers (the earlier the better) before going live, then any other issues can potentially be fixed later. The client must be the one that nails down the bare minimum product, so hopefully a couple of weeks before the go-live date your team have identified the show stoppers and have resolve everything on or before the go-live date week. If you think there’s a feature or bug that is unaccounted make sure to bring it up now to the whole team, including the client, or it’ll creep up during the go-live week. The less surprises you have the better, so that when the go-live date arrives, surprises that comes with double the anxiety level  won’t be as much.

One of the few ways I’ve done prior to the go-live date is having everything in place the day before (ala Practice Go-Live day). Hence, there’s little planned work to be done on the actual go-live date. Also, it gives the team enough buffer time and confidence whether things will go smoothly. For example: Finish all the production migration/configuration the day before, wherein all you have to do on the go-live date is configuring the public domain hostname that points to the production server. More importantly by doing it one day ahead it gives you a proper assessment whether the team is still on target or whether it would have to be a pushed for a few more days. Remember that in any project you must always set the right expectation to the client so they won’t be surprise when they missed the scheduled date. Missing the scheduled date to go live by knowing it the day before, is usually better than not getting it live on the day that client have expected it. Again, limit the surprises as much as you can.

Considering all of these… Sleep well the night before. Clear out your calendar. Make sure that you’re in the best shape when you wake up.

It’ll be a long but wonderful day for…

We are going live today, We are going live today, We are going live today.

 

 

 

 

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