Dealing with a system launch: It requires more than just testing

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Rolling out new IT systems or software can be a challenge and fraught with issues from day one – and the recent IT crisis with TSB has shown how damaging these can be if managed poorly. A lack of pre-launch tests has been raised as a potential cause of immediate failures, but it would be simplistic to suggest that this would completely eliminate the problems that companies encounter following a system launch.

A successful launch strategy needs to take an exhaustive approach to troubleshooting that goes beyond a standard array of tests, and instead encourages firms to plan for every eventuality and respond to any post-launch problems quickly.

System testing is not a guarantee

System testing is an important part of ensuring IT efficiency, but it is by no means a comprehensive solution. No matter how many hours are spent preparing for an IT rollout, there is always a chance the system will face problems when it goes live. As such, companies need be prepared for this possibility and be able to react and respond to any issues as they arise.

Testing has an important role to play here, but developers must be prepared for the chance that some issues will still fall through the cracks. The challenge then lies in making sure these issues can be addressed very quickly.

There is ultimately no greater IT system test than a public rollout, as customers will uncover problems and glitches that internal testing cannot. If the business has a proactive approach and is prepared, these issues can be quickly resolved without compromising the workings of the system.

Protecting yourself when the worst happens

If an issue is discovered during an IT rollout, a company will be judged on how it reacts. This is where an effective IT strategy really comes into its own, as it ensures that innovation is balanced with a responsibility and commitment to the end user.

Without pre-planning, even the smallest technical issue can quickly grow out of proportion. If the rollout faces a major problem that stops day-to-day operations, a contingency plan needs to be in place that reverts to a previously functional version of the software.

Taking advantage of these ‘rollback’ systems can allow the business to continue its operations and minimise any disruption for consumers. This process also allows the company to isolate the issue and deal with it at its own pace, without needing to worry about the fallout from consumer opinion.

Building a comprehensive mindset

IT departments obviously need to ensure that technical measures are in place to guard against any unforeseen problems when a project goes live, but they also need to have a culture which plans for every eventuality. By coming up with solutions to potential problems before they occur, IT can produce a clearly defined plan of action for every employee to follow and respond more effectively than if it were to leave things to chance.

This approach will not only help reduce the initial confusion that a system failure can cause but will also make sure everyone is on the same page. Having a series of protocols in place for every eventuality means that companies can respond immediately with a predefined action plan.
While rigorous testing before launch is a necessary step in the development process, it needs to be part of a wider IT strategy. Failing to take any steps to prepare for an outage, such as building in safeguards or planning for a worst-case scenario, will only make matters worse.

Making sure there is a holistic approach in place that supports the entire business will ensure that the company can offset any unexpected IT issues and deliver a seamless launch that goes off without a hitch.