Five go live management lessons

By CJ O’Neill, consultant, Valcon UK

The run up to hitting the deadline for go live can be stressful. Pressure from stakeholders, concerns about the budget or worries the project team will lose face are all key concerns. You might be launching a new product, pressing the green light on a new system or introducing a new service – but guaranteed, the eyes of the business will be on you and you need to get it right. Minimising risk and careful delivery facilitation is paramount. To keep your programme or project on track, there are a set of go live management principles every project manager should keep in mind: 

Build cross-functional relationships

As a project manager, it’s easy to get caught up in your relationship with your development team. But you have to remember that building your relationship with other key stakeholders is just as important. For a start, they’ll need to sign off on the launch, so fostering a relationship with them early on will help you communicate the project objectives, the projected benefits and an idea of the launch date. If you get their buy in, they will become champions of your project’s cause. And when the chips are down, they will be there to provide support.

3 Cs of communication 

During delivery, clearconcise and consistent communication with your stakeholders is key. The organisation has made a significant financial investment to develop and deliver the solution they expect to transform their business and drive growth. So it’s really important you make every effort to take them with you along the launch path. You’re bound to have ups and downs, but by sticking to the 3Cs, your stakeholders will understand your intentions, the progress of the project and actions you’re taking to mitigate risks and resolve issues.

Identify launch pre-requisites early

Each stakeholder who has some responsibility for launch sign off, will have criteria they need to be met to provide consent for the launch. You need to clearly identify these criteria and regularly check against them to ensure you can tick all the boxes before go live. The project manager then has time to meet these dependencies and maximise chances of getting unanimous approval for the launch. 

Use the best tooling to help manage ‘go live’

Using the right tools to drive the management of the ‘go live’ process helps deliver a successful launch, as they help provide a single view of the status of key launch activities. They can also help define the areas of the business impacted by whatever it is you’re launching. These tools are great to focus the mind early in the delivery cycle and help project managers to show that a robust and fit for purpose plan is in place. This builds confidence in stakeholders, as it shows you have it covered. 

Formalise the ‘go/no go’ meeting

There shouldn’t be any surprises at your ‘go or no go’ meeting. Everyone should know the outcome and what the next steps are before setting foot in the room. The project manager should know how everyone will vote and reasons for doing so. If the decision is ‘no go’ the meeting can be used to agree actions to clear the path for go live. If it’s a thumbs up, the project manager can go through the cutover plan and outstanding actions. 

Go lives – or not go lives – are rarely straightforward. But putting best practice project management principles in place help smooth the launch. Keeping stakeholders informed, identifying issues early and plans to resolve them help you reach that go live point more easily and takes the stress away. 

To speak to Valcon about best practice project management and its five go live management principles, get in touch with [email protected]