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How do you know when you are ready to release your software?

I present to you the age-old question of project leaders everywhere. How do you know it’s time to release your software for the first time? From the development side, they may feel like they are nearing the finish line but the project leader has a different perspective, so don’t let the team pack up just yet!

Here are some signs you’re nearing the end:

You’re told, “Everything is perfect”

Yeah, I know. I’ll pause for a minute while you cycle through that laughter. In an ideal world, everything works exactly as designed, the birds are singing, and you see a rainbow from the window outside. Here in the real world of software development, it looks a little different.

Back to reality, you have all of the bugs documented, and you have resolved all of the critical or most expensive defects by calculating the technical debt of allowing those defects to remain through the release. For the remaining defects, you have negotiated and scheduled correction for those after the release.  You documented everything, planned it through, and the appropriate parties approve all details.

Pro Tip: With Lighthouse Technology’s fully outsourced solution, complete with testing automation, we can pinpoint an expectation of how many defects we’ll find in our work together and help you calculate the ROI of an engagement

SMEs are smiling

Smiling SMEs is an excellent sign that the software is meeting their expectations – or darned close to it. So, if you haven’t started prioritizing and negotiating what can wait to repair after the release, consider your smiling SMEs as your cue to begin addressing those remaining details.

You are feeling the pressure

The pressure to roll out into production is coming from Leadership in droves because every delay costs the company and impacts their ROI. If you’ve had some considerable delays in this project, they can be feeling that pressure. They want you to feel that pressure too.

Pro Tip: Documentation is critical at this point, especially if Leadership is trying to force a release prematurely. You want that decision to be well-informed, so prepare a summary of the current state and the risks associated with each significant defect allowed to pass through the initial release.

What functionality?

Be as detailed as possible about the functionality being left behind as a result of a premature release. They also want to know the repercussions of that missing functionality. For instance, does a defect prevent any customer interactions? Will operational processes get slower because of the lost functionality? Be very clear in your update to them and be sure to paint the full picture.

What cost?

Your leaders will want to know this in terms of hard dollars and soft dollars.

Hard dollars: refer to documented *CASH*.
This can be in the form of lost sales or increased expenses. Hard dollars can be notated clearly on the accounting ledger with a (+) or (-).

Soft dollars: refer to time and work.
Sacrificed functionality due to defects or workarounds to the process still cost the organization money, but it requires additional calculation. This calculation would include the hourly cost of the employees to work around what the system would have been able to automate.

Is everyone ready?

The next step is to make sure that those affected by the software are ready, willing, and able to receive the new software. If you are lucky, you have a change manager on your team to handle this “people side of change” while you manage the details around systems and availability. If a change manager is not on the team, here are some details to work into your project schedule:

Awareness and desire

In other words, are those about to be impacted aware of the upcoming changes?

Pro Tips:

  • Timing and detail of each communication depend on the level of awareness required.
  • Building desire creates enthusiasm over the shift, so those impacted are excited to adopt the new software and adapt the processes with less resistance.
  • If the change impacts your customer, a series of press releases and website announcements may address awareness and desire, especially if the software is a purchasable upgrade. You want to build that hype!

Knowledge

Now that you have your users’ attention and anticipation at its peak, how will they know how to use the software? -A knowledgebase or wiki is necessary for your implementation.

Training creation: Allocate time for a training professional to learn the details of the software and the impact of the change from the way users do things today. However long you expect that course to take, multiply it by 10 (at least) for training course creation.

Training collateral: What deliverables do the training team need to prepare your affected parties? Variables might include a presentation, e-learning, notebooks, a wiki page, frequently asked question pages, quick reference cards, and other residual information they reference during and after training.

Training sessions: For front line employees, training is created and scheduled. A training session needs a presentation, access to the program in a secure environment that receives no changes during instruction. During the training period, someone documents attendance and makes sure everyone’s schedule enables the time for training.

For customers, live webinars, instructor-led courses, or e-learning posted on the site are viable options.

Ability

Your final check of readiness is whether or not your recipients of this software have the ability to use it. The details may include personal skills, and training is one of those. Most likely, because your project focuses on software, you need to make sure the infrastructure is ready. From the server room to the front-line, is all hardware compatible with the software? Do all PCs have the necessary speed and memory to use the new software? If web-based, will it work on all the standard browsers?

It sounds like lots of testing!

Enter Lighthouse Technologies – your complete resource for software testing

Software testing alone is only one step to your overall readiness. The more skill and experience you have in your corner, the better. Lighthouse Technology’s holistic approach to quality assurance has a keen eye on all of the details contributing to your project success. Are you thinking of next quarter’s lineup yet? Contact us, and let’s talk about how we can help you finish your projects on time, on budget, and your costs in check!

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PMIASQIEEESoftware Engineering InstituteInternational Software Testing Qualifications Board