In my last blog post, I talked about creating a roadmap to ensure successful implementation of anything you do. I wanted to follow up with a real-life scenario that includes an actual car on an actual road.
Not too long ago, I had a typical eCommerce solution implementation going on. We had a plan, we had oversight, we had contingencies--we had a roadmap to our destination. Our planning served us well to this point.
Was it perfect? No, but it allowed us to make adjustments along the way without losing sight of our destination. There were no side trips to unforeseen problems.
We finally got through all our testing and were ready for go-live. The existing plan was a good one that got us to this critical point on our journey. But experience told me we needed a more detailed map to get us live. Here is where the details count. We needed to see all the potholes, last-minute lane closures, and unexpected traffic jams, compile an emergency kit, and prepare for the worst. This may sound extreme, but it would be a terrible thing to see all the effort of a very long and costly implementations hit the proverbial wall and crash right at the end.
This is when an additional detailed map comes into play. It’s important to really try to lay that course in front of you like you would with a timed road course, by answering the following questions:
- Where are you going?
- What do you need to do to get there?
- How long will it take?
- Oh, and by the way, you may get a flat tire. Are you prepared for the unexpected?
- Do you have the time and resource you need to change it?
- Do you have the number for AAA?
- How long will you have to wait?
- What will you do if a storms hit and knocks the street lights out?
- How will that affect you?
It's amazing how a little detailed planning can go a long way in making a go-live successful. Noticed I didn't say "smooth" and successful.
Distributing Copies of the Map
So, back to my story. We laid out a detailed plan, determined our timing windows, we had a contact list for all 3rd parties, and we made everyone aware of the plan and their roles. And most importantly, we determined and communicated the timing and the fallback plans for each step of the process.
On the Road Again
We started the process and things were just humming along; we were probably doing 65 mph in a 60 mph zone, no traffic until we hit the turn in the road… and then...we come to a screeching halt. Road Closed! We lost connectivity to our Data Center. Panic started to set in. What do we do? How can we sidestep the problem? Should we roll everything back?
But then our senior leader said, “Wait, let's take a breath. We created our plans for this exact reason. We created the plan when we weren't sleep deprived and amped up on caffeine so let’s use it!”
He was right, of course. We looked at our plan, saw that we had built in a cushion of time. If that time elapsed, we would then roll back. So we waited. In fact, we went to a restaurant and grabbed a bite waiting for that data connection to be restored. And, with a few minutes to spare, the connectivity was restored and we were able to complete our go-live without further incident. We came to find out that a car ran into a telephone pole, knocking out power and data lines.
And they all lived happily ever after.
The moral of the story? Prepare for detours with a detailed contingency plan and trust the plan.
About the Author
Craig Pasquale is Director of Omnichannel Commerce Solutions at Lightwell; an eCommerce Expert Extraordinaire; and the old guy with a cool beard (the dated head shot doesn't do it justice).