Whether you’re responsible for implementing, releasing or cutting over IT projects into live operations, you are probably focused on the following things to reduce the likelihood of a costly incident or killing the release and wasting the critical slot:
1. Ensuring there is some experience of running major implementations in the team.
2. Ensuring the right capacity to handle the management of the event.
3. Putting in place good support from a critical events management product.
The three critical elements to address the above are as follows:
1. Dry runs
Doing these as full technical builds enables the organisation to really learn the critical choreography of making changes to complex IT systems that underpin major bits of the business such as revenues and customers. However, these periods are often minimised in preparation.
2. Capacity and Capability
Screwing up and causing a major incident in live IT operations to a critical system is a costly affair, especially in financial services where the regulator can apply significant penalties of c£100m. Having the right team is one of the best risk mitigations; experience and capacity will help when the inevitable curve ball arrives mid-cutover.
3. System of Coordination, Communication and Record
Unfortunately, having the right team is not enough. The optimal team approaches an unappealing and large size without good software. The system should be seen as the record of when tasks should start and finish rather than teams of administrators running around with spreadsheets. The system should provide instant status to all, customised to the user rights and viewpoint, rather than taking over 50% of all of the team’s capacity to generate reports. The system should also protect against conduct risk by providing an audit trail and enabling post-event learning.
Not to apply these tactics to minimise risk when you are performing open heart surgery on critical business systems is a false economy, like asking for a more junior surgeon or to reduce the key staff in the operating theatre.