During the Implementation Phase, the automated system/application or other IT solution is moved from development status to production status. The process of implementation is dependent on the characteristics of the project and the IT solution, and thus may be synonymous with installation, deployment, rollout, or go-live. If necessary, data conversion, phased implementation, and training for using, operating, and maintaining the system are accomplished during the Implementation Phase. From a system security perspective, the final system must be certified and accredited for use in the production environment during the Implementation Phase. The Implementation Phase ends with a formal decision to release the final IT solution into the Operations and Maintenance Phase.
Let’s look at the major steps associated with implementation. Note that many of these activities need to be completed ahead of time. You cannot start planning for implementation while you are actually implementing.
Prepare the Infrastructure
Many solutions are implemented into a production environment that is separate and distinct from where the solution was developed and tested. It is important that the characteristics of the production environment be accounted for. This strategy includes a review of hardware, software, communications, etc. In our example above, the potential desktop capacity problem would have been revealed if we had done an evaluation of the production (or real-world) environment. When you are ready for implementation, the production infrastructure needs to be in place.
Coordinate with the Organizations involved in Implementation
This may be as simple as communicating to your client community. However, few solutions today can be implemented without involving a number of organizations. For IT solutions, there are usually one or more operations and infrastructure groups that need to be communicated to ahead of time. Many of these groups might actually have a role in getting the solution successfully deployed. Part of the implementation work is to coordinate the work of any other groups that have a role to play. In some cases, developers simply failed to plan ahead and make sure the infrastructure groups were prepared to support the implementation. As a result, the infrastructure groups were forced to drop everything to make the implementation a success.
Many solutions require users to attend training or more informal coaching sessions. This type of training could be completed in advance, but the further out the training is held, the less information will be retained when implementation rolls around. Training that takes place close to the time of implementation should be made part of the actual implementation plan.
Install the Production Solution
This is the piece everyone remembers. Your solution needs to be moved from development to test. If the solution is brand new, this might be finished in a leisurely and thoughtful manner over a period of time. If this project involves a major change to a current solution, you may have a lot less flexibility in terms of when the new solution moves to production, since the solution might need to be brought down for a period of time. You have to make sure all of your production components are implemented successfully, including new hardware, databases, and program code.
Convert the Data
Data conversion, changing data from one format to another, needs to take place once the infrastructure and the solution are implemented.
- Perform Final Verification in Production
You should have prepared to test the production solution to ensure everything is working as you expect. This may involve a combination of development and client personnel. The first check is just to make sure everything is up and appears okay. The second check is to actually push data around in the solution, to make sure that the solution is operating as it should. Depending on the type of solution being implemented, this verification step could be extensive.
Implement New Processes and Procedures
Many IT solutions require changes to be made to business processes as well. These changes should be implemented at the same time that the actual solution is deployed.
Monitor the Solution
Usually the project team will spend some period of time monitoring the implemented solution. If there are problems that come up immediately after implementation, the project team should address and fix them.