Highlighter pen ticking off items on a checklist

Checklist for a successful development project go live

Mark Hall - 03 December 2018

At OWA we have been developing, supporting and hosting interactive Websites, Applications and Apps for over 23 years. During that time we have successfully launched many projects and we have learnt a lot along the way about some of the problems and pitfalls which can happen during the go live process. So, to help you successfully launch your next development project, we would like to share some of the things which we would recommend you have covered before you launch.

1. Get everyone on board

Before scheduling a project go live you should ensure that all interested parties are consulted and are in agreement that the application is ready to be launched and that the suggested date and time is convenient for them and any potential users.

2. Create your own Go Live checklist

You and your developers have the best knowledge of your application and what components need to be in place to make it work correctly. Having your own customised checklist will help to ensure that nothing has been missed and it can be used again when any updates need to go live. At OWA we have a comprehensive go live checklist which we continue to refine and add to.

3. User testing

This probably sounds obvious, but make sure your application has been fully tested. This should include user testing, ideally carried out by people who have not been involved in the development process.

4. Security testing

Your application should be tested for security vulnerabilities before launch. The OWASP Top 10 is a good place to start.

5. Dependencies

Your application may rely on other systems or applications to function correctly. Ensuring that any communication links are in place prior to go live will help prevent any issues during the process. You should also consider the resiliency of any dependent applications and has the necessary checks built in to ensure that your application will fail gracefully in the event of a problem.

6. Is the platform fully up to date

Ensure that the latest stable version of any operating system software and related components are installed and running prior to the go live date.

7. Secure certificate

If your application is Internet facing or is processing sensitive data then it should have a secure certificate in place. This should be procured in advance of go live.

8. Domain name

Does your application need a domain name or sub domain to be set up and configured? If changes are needed to an exist domain name then the person who can make the required changes should be identified and the updates should be prepared in advance of go live.

9. Email

If your application generates emails which are sent out directly from the application you should check that the sending email application has been correctly configured and that any SPF records are in place.

10. Do a test go live

This isn’t always possible to do, but if you can then we would recommend going through the go live process before the live event to help identify any issues which you may have missed during your planning process.

11. Have a go live time window and stick to it

You should have a time window when you plan to make your application live. This is even more important if the go live involves changes to an existing live application. If problems arise during the go live process which cannot easily be overcome then the process should be aborted and you should implement your roll back plan.

12. Have a rollback plan

You shouldn’t embark on a go live without a rollback plan. Implementing your rollback plan shouldn’t be considered as a go live failure. Too many IT projects only become IT disasters when the go live goes badly – sometime very publicly. It is better to rollback, understand what went wrong, fix it and then reschedule the go live rather than try and implement fixes during the go live process or mopping up afterwards.

13. Don’t go live on a Friday

This one may be difficult to stick to, however in our experience project go lives on a Friday are more risky, so we always try to avoid them happening. If a project goes live on a Friday it may initially appear to be working fine, but what happens if problems are identified late in the day or over the weekend when the technical team may be unavailable. Monday to Thursday go lives help avoid delays in getting fixes sorted out quickly.

Good luck with your project go live.