Making IT deployment seamless – 3 world examples
Deploying a new IT solution can be intimidating to say the least. There’s all the planning required to make sure it’s viable and that’s before you start installing the hardware and software. But technology adoption has been a major focus for many businesses, especially in the last 18 months, and businesses need to adapt to the new digital-first economy that’s emerging.
While the majority of decisions; from software development, installation, testing, deployment management, and performance monitoring, are usually covered by your IT partner, one decision that is definitely yours is how you’re going to deploy it.
Phased, overnight, mix and match… If you don’t know the difference, keep on reading and we’ll walk you through your infrastructure deployment strategy options.
To make the deployment process as seamless as possible, you could do it in one fell swoop.
This method takes detailed preparation and quality assurance. IT staff should implement and test the new technology in a closed production environment, to ensure there are no critical bugs that could grind your team to a halt. Those bugs could come in the form of overloading network connections, incorrect data causing computers to freeze. It oculd be something as simple as incompatibility between your software and underlying infrastructure like routers, which is where a knowledgeable IT partner would prove their worth!
Talking about your team, you’ll need to train them to use it in advance. After all, you don’t want them interacting with customers not knowing how to use the new system and software. Depending on the deployment, a significant amount of this training can be done online, though a practical ‘hands-on’ element should be included too, along with real-world scenarios that your team will repeat regularly.
Then, once your team is trained and the software is fully tested, you can switch from the old solution to the new overnight, so any gremlins can be ironed out without disruption to everyday operations.
Pros and cons to overnight deployments:
Pros: Everybody using the same system straight away reduces confusion and means quick questions can be answered rapidly by colleagues. If you have the ability, you could time the switchover to coincide with the end of your incumbent’s to further reduce costs. Overnight switches are great for small changes that only use clean data and are not business-critical.
Cons: Considering that the entire team is using the new system straight away, if there’s a significant issue, it can bring the entire operation to a halt. It also means you have to be sure the solution is right before you deploy, as the costs to correct it can be massive if you’ve signed a long-term contract.
Mix and match
Sometimes known as a ‘tandem solution’, you could use both the old and new solutions together for a limited period. This enables staff to acclimatise to the new user interface, while having the safety net of the previous solution that they know inside-out, if anything goes wrong.
You may have had to quickly adopt new cloud-based services for staff while they worked from home, and a mix and match approach may be useful for returning to the office so that employees that were hired recently can get used to the on-site system, if need be.
However, mix and match solutions aren’t advisable for systems that are constantly updated such as customer information repositories like CRM platforms or financial information, where having one copy that you know is correct and the most up-to-date, is very important to prevent confusion and costly errors.
With a cloud-based unified communications platform like MiCloud Flex, users could download the softphone app to use on personal smartphones, while continuing to use a PBX-based telephony solution in the office. MiCloud Flex offers a consistent experience across platforms, so by familiarising themselves with the softphone app, employees are effectively getting to know the complete solution.
Pros and cons to mix and match deployments:
Pros: Technology-averse users can get used to the new system, introducing themselves slowly in certain scenarios and building confidence, while relying on the system they’re familiar with to make important customer calls. If there are teething problems and bugs found in the new solution, you can always roll-back to the old one system until the issues are resolved.
Cons: You’re running two solutions at the same time, so it’s not the most cost-effective strategy. There’s also the issue of data continuity and losing track of where the most up-to-date information is stored. Especially with customer information and GDPR guidelines, losing track of their valuable data could cause you to be fined too.
If you’re deploying a new piece of software or infrastructure that’s going to stretch over your entire operation, a phased deployment may be the best choice for you. Set one team or department up with the new technology and let them be the pathfinders for your organisation.
Then, after they’ve acclimatised to the new platform, the team can report back on any issues they had within their workflows, and that feedback can then inform the training for the department. And so on, until the organisation has completely switched to the new platform, and the old solution can be switched off.
This ensures that one issue doesn’t bring the entire business to a stop while providing real-world testing to minimise disruption. Start with a subset of users that aren’t customer facing and gradually move towards frontline staff, which reduces risk.
Pros and cons to phased deployments:
Pros: Each department in your team can get used to the new technology without inconveniencing customers and other teams. By the time the roll out reaches frontline staff, any niggles will have been ironed out.
Cons: Phased deployment is the longest and therefore least cost-effective strategy and the added confusion of using two separate systems within the business can lead to more confusion than necessary.
The method you choose will depend on many factors; the size of your organisation, the technology being deployed, the departments affected as well as the technical know-how of your employees. Whichever it is, the key to all successful IT deployments is careful planning. Cloud-based solutions are particularly easy to deploy, because they avoid much of the need for in-house equipment.
And deployment doesn’t just stop once the new system is working. Continuous integration iterations are necessary if you want to get the most from your communications system. Without some form of continuous deployment, including new features, updates and compatibilities with your other systems, you risk missing out on new optimisations and open your data up to more risk.
The right IT deployment plan will help you uncover all the roadblocks that could delay your deployment before they become fully blown problems. If you’re looking to adopt a new service or reimagine your operation for the new hybrid working world, get in touch!
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