To close a project is never easy, taking it to the finish line is a struggle for the majority of software development companies. Especially for those who are offering customer services of maintenance and operation after development takes end. Many theories are circling in the universe how to plan the post launch services once the project went live. There is always confusion about when a project is really closed. The interesting part is that customers usually have a different perspective on this then the development companies have. Project managers or even product owners tend to forget this period of project life cycle because of the euphoria around the live deployment. It might sound strange but post-deployment period is as crucial as the rest of the lifecycle steps.
Let’s take one by one this whole “mess” around hypercare.
Hypercare, the creative mess
Hypercare refers to the post-deployment support for a predetermined period of time towards customers. This type of services covers customer support, data integration and system stabilization. It can mean multiple type of support: bug fixing, feature implementation and RFI (request for information) support. Basically, is all about helping the customer to learn how his project works. Do not assume that customers know their end product, they usually don’t. You need to take their hands and go through the project with them.
To avoid any frustration, it’s important to establish the rules with the customer right from the beginning, otherwise closing a project might turn into something impossible to complete.
Establish the rules
You need to define for how long do you offer hypercare support, for a few weeks, 3 months, or maybe just for a few days? Beside this it’s important to communicate if we are talking about working days or calendar days, if we calculate the national bank holidays or not. Offering support during bank holiday when the whole office is closed can be very challenging, not to mention that usually these days should be invoiced at 200% rate. If you are a manager, you know, that convincing a developer to sit down in front of the PC during holiday is a mission impossible.
After clarifying the guarantee period, a communication channel/tool needs to be established. There are many options for this: having a chat tool, a support portal, a call center or an email address, assigning a single point of contact who will manage the communication with customer.
Make sure that you have a defined issue resolution time and pathway. You can have issues with priority 1, 2 or 3. Reaction time can depend on the type of issue and its urgency. There is multiple combination of this, just make sure that your customers know upfront.
Clients can become very hectic when their product is not working, try to eliminate the chaos around your support services. Make sure that they have a communication pattern how to report an issue. Define a series of minimal requirements for reporting a problem: bug’s location, frontend or backend, browser version and OS version, steps to reconstruct the error, screenshots with the url and section included, etc. This will help to have a timely and effective communication about the reported issue.
Have a smooth exit
A smooth deployment is the golden key of finish line. Try to prepare a successful GO LIVE, set up post deployment QA and QC, make sure your customers know about the post deployment support, organize the knowledge transfer to your DevOPS or maintenance team and monitor your product till the end. Start with planning a higher resource involvement once the project went live, then let things cool down a bit and have medium involvement. Step by step you will have to get to a lower level of involvement till everything completely fades out.
If your exit criteria are well defined, you as a project manager have nothing to be worried about. Good luck with your landing!
All photos’ source: www.pexels.com
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