During my 10+ years of IT Service Management I have been on both sides of the fence: a consultant and a customer. Based on that experience, I can say conclusively that the most difficult phase is 2-4 weeks into the project. The project kick off has been completed, the deployment team is performing the base installs and configurations, and then you ‘hit the wall’.
At this point there is a slowdown in progress due to any number of reasons ranging from access issues to discrepancies in requirements. The most common reasons I’ve encountered are:
- Not having network and server access for discovery applications
- Integration points between the existing infrastructure and the newly deployed environment, for example access to a ticketing system
- Missing operating system libraries and server access
Think about how sports coaches and athletes approach a game. They prepare, collaborate, and communicate. It’s the same here: game-plan the deployment.
We provide clients a list of operating system, server, and application requirements prior to the arrival of our deployment team. The list details proper hardware sizing recommendations, operating system requirements required by the applications being deployed, as well as any firewall ports, ACL modifications, or other network requirements for a successful deployment.
We create a communication plan that details an escalation path to ensure roadblocks are quickly moved up the chain and addressed. We also produce a weekly status report that includes overall project status, work performed the prior week, and anticipated work for the upcoming week. Most important, the status report includes a risks and issues log, which allows team members to assess, prioritize, and delegate responsibility to prevent risks from becoming roadblocks.
The weekly status meetings and status reports promote collaboration. These tools keep the team informed, focused, and working together.
I know from experience on both sides of the fence that these extra steps improve team efficiency, increase client satisfaction, and result in quicker ROI.
Softential Senior Consultant