Releasing new services is an intensive time. Months of work have been invested into the project and the plans have been put into practice one piece at a time to create a finished service. The release is an exciting moment that disrupts the ordinary routine, and it is something to enjoy.
As the clock counts down to the release of the new service, it is easy for focus to drift away from the key matters. Here are five golden rules that will help you to avoid unnecessary stress and enable the new service to be released successfully.
1. Agree on the timetable well in advance and anticipate potential problems
Have an open discussion with the supplier and other project personnel regarding a suitable release date and the prerequisites for release. If the new service is wide in scope and includes several different types of functionality, it may be sensible to release the service in parts. You can prioritise features for this purpose at the beginning of the project – when the critical functionality is ready, the first version can be prepared for release.
The most suitable timing for a release is typically in the morning on a day when no other traffic to the service is to be expected. It is not a good idea to release major updates at busy times or just before weekends. If surprises occur, you need to be able to make quick decisions.
Internally, it is a good idea to prepare a briefing for personnel to describe what is happening, what people should do and who they can contact if the need arises. Immediately after a release, good ideas often come up, and these should be saved in a systematic way.
2. Do not make changes to the release at the last minute unless it is absolutely necessary
The excitement created by the release may lead to a raft of changes being proposed at the eleventh hour, some of which may be good, some bad and some essential. The last of these are the only ones that should be included.
3. Leave time for testing
If a service is more important and more complex, more time should be reserved for testing it. If necessary, external testers can be used for this task. When you plan your timetable, remember that it can take time to implement any required changes identified during testing. However, do not get caught in an endless cycle. When the key parts and use cases have been checked, there is no need to hold back – the service is ready for release.
4. Soft launch
It is worth being prepared for the eventuality that even thoroughly tested services may require minor corrections after they are transferred into the production environment. Do not panic – if the timing has been selected correctly and the right people are prepared, modifications can be made quickly.
Services can also be released as soft launches. In such cases, notifications and marketing messages destined for parties outside the organisation are only sent after the service has been public for a short time and everything has been shown to work with a small number of users. For example, if you are conducting a marketing campaign or launching a service, a soft launch should be carried out well before media marketing begins.
5. Celebrate what you have done and take a breather after the release
When the project crosses the finish line, it is a good time to take a short break. The week preceding the release is intensive, and it is easy to lose focus on the big picture while fine-tuning the details required before the release. Nobody will take offence if the work is then celebrated appropriately – reach for the champagne!
When the waters have calmed after the release, it is a good idea to review the project and the feedback received for the service together with the supplier. This is also the best time to bring up any things that may require further development. After the feedback discussion, it is natural to think about the next steps in developing the service.