Planning the end

Planning the end

We see many processes and deliverables from the various PM schools to bring a project all the way through to launch, but so few to actually transition that project to operations once completed.

It’s ironic that the very point of fruition for so much process often has such a clumsy handoff. After all, it’s the transition into production that finally brings a project’s output face-to-face with the customer, and begins to mean something to the business.

That’s the key point of this rule – planning for the end means not just completing tasks in a PMLC phase called project closure, but also completing tasks for a successful transition to operations.

An Example
If you’ve spent much time around Ops folks, you know that no one in Ops has any time, ever. But, recently, I was lucky enough to work with an operations manager who actually was able to sit with me for a series of 30 minute meetings.

During our meetings, she detailed the typical pain points experienced by her staff when projects launched. We then selected those that we agreed were remedied with a few hours better planning.

The list wasn’t very surprising. Old favorites like more lead time on setting up monitors, well-considered alerting thresholds, and proper Production-style logging were just a few.

We wanted to convert that list into a practical, effective series of activities that would bring benefits right away, and that people would actually do. We’d then gather feedback and iteratively improve it – of course!

We turned our list into an Operations Acceptance Checklist, and, after kissing a few rings with the Production stakeholders, it was included as one of the items needed for a project to launch. This effectively moved beginning the transition to operations ahead by several weeks in the typical lifecycle.

Not surprisingly, post-launch noise from new services and applications decreased significantly. And, even better, this simple change gave Ops a voice in the decision to allow projects to move into the Production environment, and made PMs accountable for working with Operations to create a smooth transition before a project was released.

In the end…
Every project framework has a phase focusing on project closure – typically including processes and artifacts around requirements completion, archiving documents, releasing staff resources, final budget reports and lessons learned. Along with all these processes and artifacts for project closure, we need to also plan for project transition. The smoother the transition, the faster a project successfully moves from being a resource drain to a value fountain.