Recently I was involved in setting up a production support team during the transition phase of a project. Once the implementation was completed and the application went live, the production support team needed to be ready to take over the support activities. The usual practice is to ramp down the team during this phase and have a smaller team in place for support. While setting up the team we realized that it would be helpful to have a checklist in order to ensure that all prerequisites are covered and the team was ready to take over.
This checklist was created specifically for a production support engagement. However, it can be customized for any type of project setup. We didn’t have a proper checklist in place for this part of the transition. I believe the reason for this is that production support is an area where we don’t put in a lot of emphasis. The whole team is focused on the deployment and go-live activities that the post production support gets little attention. However, it is part of the service that we provide to the client and deserves equal consideration. Clients start using the product after the implementation and deployment are over, so we can’t afford to breathe a sigh of relief and walk away. We must have the same amount of focus in continuing to serve the client to make sure that they gain the business value of the application.
This checklist will help project managers to complete the tasks that are required to setup the post production support team successfully. This transition should also be part of the overall project plan and the tasks have to be included in the schedule.
- The signed contract is in place for the production support phase. This could be part of the application development contract or a new work order.
- The scope of work, roles and responsibilities are clearly identified for L1, L2 and L3 support as applicable. This is spelled out in the contract.
- Production support resources are identified from the existing team.
- The team understands the scope of work given in the contract. If the scope involves after hours or weekend support ensure that the team knows this and are comfortable with the working hours.
- Compensation / allowance policies are in place if after hours and / or weekend support is part of the scope. There should be an organizational policy for this.
- Knowledge transfer plans are created to transfer knowledge of the full application to the production support team. It is likely that they have been engaged in working on a subset of the application modules during implementation.
- Training plans are created to provide training of the support ticket system and the process / workflow.
- Knowledge transfer and training sessions are planned to be completed before the go-live date.
- Identify metrics to be tracked. Metrics should be defined in the contract. If not, use organization or industry metrics for similar scope of work.
- Templates / systems are in place to track metrics from day one.
- The project level process suitable for production support is defined.
- The governance structure and the escalation process are defined.
- Required templates for weekly / monthly status reporting are created.
- Client and team kick-off presentations are created.
- Kick-off meetings are planned before the go-live date.
- E-mail distributions lists are created.
- All team members have appropriate access to environments and applications which are to be used.
- Hardware requirements (telephones, data cards, laptops, etc.) are identified and hardware is allocated to the team.
- The shift schedule is created (minimum 3 months), if applicable, and published to the client. Include contact details, leave plans and holiday in the shift schedule.
- The project is setup in the internal systems. This includes all project management systems, billing systems etc. if this is a new work order.
In addition to the above, if the team is expected to support the production migration of the application, the training plan must include a walk-through and review of the deployment plan. The production support team should understand their responsibilities during the deployment process.
I believe this checklist covers all the actions / prerequisites that have to be completed before kicking-off the post-production support. Is there anything else that should be included? Please share your thoughts in the comments.