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Full Deployment of a New Application

By this point the production acceptance process should be designed, approved, documented, tested, and implemented. So when is the new application deployed? The answer is that developing the process doesn't specifically include the deployment of a new application. When the production acceptance process is applied, it will include all of the activities leading up to the actual deployment. If all of the tasks outlined by the process are completed on time for any new application, its successful deployment is all but guaranteed.

One of the key aspects of this entire process is the involvement of the infrastructure group early on. The development manager who owns the new application should notify and involve the production acceptance process owner as soon as a new application is approved. This ensures that infrastructure personnel and support staff are given adequate lead time to plan, coordinate, and implement the required resources and training prior to deployment. Just as important is the follow-up and lessons-learned portion of the process, which usually occurs two to three weeks after initial deployment.

Distinguishing New Applications from New Versions of Existing Applications

Users of a new process understandably will have questions about when and how to apply it. One of the most frequent questions I hear asked about production acceptance is this: Should it be used only for new applications, or is it for new versions of existing applications as well? The answer lies in the overall objective of the process that is to consistently and successfully deploy applications into production.

A new version of an existing application often has major changes that affect customers and infrastructure groups alike. In this case, deploying it into production is similar to deploying a new application. Test plans should be developed, customer acceptance pilots should be formulated, and capacity requirements should be identified well in advance. The guideline for deciding when to use production acceptance determining how different the new version of the system is from its predecessor. If users, support staff, and help desk personnel are likely to experience even moderate impact from a new version of an existing application, the production acceptance process should be used.

Distinguishing Production Acceptance from Change Management

Another question I frequently hear is this: How do we distinguish production acceptance from change management, since both seem to be handling software changes? The answer is that production acceptance is a special type of change that involves many more elements than the typical software modification. Capacity forecasts, resource requirements, customer sign-off, help desk training, and close initial monitoring by developers are just some of the usual aspects of production acceptance that normally are not associated with change management. The other obvious difference between the two processes is that while production acceptance is involved solely with deploying application software into production, change management covers a wide range of activities outside production software, such as hardware, networks, desktops, and facilities.

Employing the 14 steps described above, involving the appropriate infrastructure teams early on, understanding the differences between new applications and application upgrades, and distinguishing production acceptance from change management can help guarantee your successful deployment of new applications the first time, and every time.

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