If you work in IT consultancy, some of your most lucrative projects are likely to be rollouts and migrations.
While these projects can earn you plenty of money, they are also a chance to either shine or crash and burn in terms of customer perception.
In this article we provide you with five tips to ensure success every time you undertake a rollout or migration project.
Planning is everything. “Failing to plan is planning to fail,” the saying goes, and it’s very relevant to IT consultancy! However experienced you are in the world of IT, you should never turn up on the first day of a major IT project with any idea of “winging it.” You should have detailed action lists ready, regardless of how many times you have completed similar projects. Planning isn’t just about “to do” lists, however. Planning is about making sure you have plenty of cables, external drives and spare parts so you don’t end up wasting time driving to a computer store. Planning is about managing customer expectations so that users know you expect them to log off and get out of your way when you turn up on a Friday evening and need to shut down the main server. Above all, planning is about making sure you don’t waste a second more than necessary watching progress bars during your valuable on-site time.
Schedule everything. Yes, scheduling is a part of planning, but it does warrant a special mention. Usually, a large rollout or migration will take place over a weekend, so the first thing you should work on is persuading your clients to finish early on the Friday evening. You can count on unexpected things going wrong during every rollout, so it’s best to get ahead at the start, hopefully avoiding the undesirable scenario of staff turning up on Monday morning to an unfinished project. The most important part of scheduling is creating milestones. Where do you need to be by the time you leave on Friday evening? What needs to have happened by Saturday lunchtime? You need these targets to keep you on track so you know if you’re getting dangerously behind.
Always have a regression plan. Sometimes, despite perfect planning, something goes wrong unexpectedly, which is why a regression plan is an essential part of every IT consultancy project. A regression plan considers three things: Firstly, designing the project process so that, at any point, you can get the old system back in place so staff can continue to work. If, for example, you are putting in a new client/server network that requires client PCs to be rebuilt, consider trying to persuade clients to purchase new hard drives for the client machines so you can get the “old system” back in its entirety at any point. The other parts of the regression plan are really matters of timing: at what point do you admit defeat and invoke the plan, and how long will it take to put everything back to how it was?
Remember that “the devil is in the detail”. If you’ve been in IT consultancy for several years, you’ve probably experienced the following scenario: You complete a migration flawlessly, and get home on the Sunday evening proud of the work you’ve done. Then, despite everything working well and having overcome various technical difficulties that the client will never be interested enough to hear about, you still experience hostility on Monday morning due to things like missing browser favorites and people simply “not liking” the new version of Windows. There’s only one thing you can do to reduce (if not eliminate) the risk of this: think of everything, and think of it from the user’s perspective. Try to make the first hour they’re at work on Monday morning completely smooth and trouble free, and if some changes are going to irritate people, make sure their expectations have been managed.
Think about the handover. The one thing you can be sure of is that there will be questions after the project – so make sure you’re there to answer them. If you’ve completed a weekend rollout, you should be the first person on-site Monday morning – ideally full of caffeine and ready to handle little issues.
Rollouts and migrations are sometimes tricky, but they do have the potential to generate a real feeling of satisfaction upon completion. Hopefully the tips above will ensure your next project is a success.
Do you work in IT consultancy? How did your last rollout go? Share your experiences in the Comments box below.
And to follow-through on the tips introduced in this short article, be sure to download your free copy of the special report on How to Start a Computer Consulting Business: 6 Proven Ways to Build Your Initial Client Base.
Creative Commons Image Source: flickr Stevie-B
Topics:- Computer Consulting Business