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Step 1: Identify an Executive Sponsor

Production acceptance is one of a handful of systems-management processes that directly involve departments outside the infrastructure group. In this case, the applications development area plays a key role in making this process effective. An executive sponsor is necessary to ensure ongoing support and cooperation between these two departments. Depending on the size and scope of the IT organization, the sponsor could be the CIO, the head of the infrastructure group, or some other executive in the infrastructure.

An application manager could be an excellent sponsor, provided that the head of the infrastructure agrees with the selection. In this case, the executives from both the applications and infrastructure departments should concur on the choice of process owner, who needs to be from the infrastructure group. In general, the higher the level of executive sponsor, the better. Because senior executives are usually more time-constrained than those at lower levels, support sessions should be well planned, straightforward, and to the point.

The executive sponsor must be a champion of the process, particularly if the shop has gone many years with no structured turnover procedure in place. He or she needs to be able to persuade other executives both inside and outside IT to follow the lead. This individual is responsible for providing executive leadership, direction, and support for the process. The executive sponsor is also responsible for selecting the process owner (see step 2 below), for addressing conflicts that the process owner can't resolve, and for providing marketing assistance.

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