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What’s on your go live project checklist?

go live checklist

Every project needs a go live project checklist – at least, projects where there is a substantial ‘go live’ moment, like a software launch.

The checklist is helpful because it confirms what is needed to go live: the steps and actions that should have been completed. It’s a reminder of what work is required in the run up to the big launch – or the small launch if you’re doing things in a phased or incremental way.

I’m a big fan of go live checklists because they help take the emotion out of the decision about whether or not we are ready. If we have ticked all the boxes, we’re ready. It makes the go/no go call very straightforward.

Here are some typical things to include on a checklist, although bear in mind that every project is different and you’ll need to make sure the items on your list match what it is you are doing.

  • Technical infrastructure in place for the production environment
  • Adequate staffing in place and critical staff available, taking into account holidays and sickness etc – too many people off and we might delay the launch until they are back
  • Support teams and helpdesk briefed
  • Go live plan produced and circulated
  • Business acceptance testing complete
  • Contact list created and circulated
  • Communications about the launch drafted and approved
  • Major risks reviewed and a decision taken about whether any of them are substantive enough to affect the plans.

We would also book a go live meeting. I remember one call we had for a big software pilot and going round the (virtual) table and asking each workstream leader to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ depending on whether they felt the go live criteria had been met. It was a challenging call, because while we had on paper met the criteria, things were still a bit wobbly.

These conversations give you a chance to get all stakeholders on the same page about whether to go or not, and that’s helpful for creating a shared sense of responsibility as soon as you make the decision to get started!

I’ve noticed a trend towards incremental delivery and smaller launches, even on projects using a predictive methodology. There is still a place for a go live checklist, because getting everyone together to make a joint decision about next steps is still valuable. It’s the opportunity to get sign off on the approach and next steps from the business representatives, IT representatives, vendor, sponsor and anyone else who has an interest in what happens next.

When to use a checklist

Timing your go live is really important for maximum impact and availability of support staff. For example, we would never put an IT system live on a Friday as there would not be enough project team members around over the weekend in case of issues. We would put software changes in overnight, and have enough staff around in the morning to monitor the system and deal with any unforeseen issues.

Think about when you are going to have your go/no go call and when your go live is going to happen. The call itself needs to be close to the go live but probably not the same day, for example it would work well to have a call on a Friday for a Monday go live, or a Tuesday for a Thursday go live. But look at your schedule, consider the impact on users and make a decision as a team.

Do you use go live checklists? What other items would you put on a generic checklist? Let me know in the comments below and save this post so you can come back to it when you need it!

Posted on: June 20, 2023 08:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (9)

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