Top 5 tips on how to start an IT-project’s maintenance process with a new team
It’s always nerve-racking when you need to say goodbye to your software development team and pass your project for maintenance to another one for some reason. There can be multiple conflicts when a client has to change an experienced team, that put a lot of effort into the project and learned all the bottlenecks, to a brand new team, that sees the project for the first time. If you don’t prepare a new team properly, numerous complications will surely appear sooner or later.
It’s very important to do everything so that your users stayed satisfied, so in case you don’t pay enough attention to the organization of the software maintenance processes, you will risk losing everything you’ve achieved including your most loyal users.
Smartym Pro is here to give you some tips based on our experience of software maintenance. How to minimize the risks when recruiting a new team to run project maintenance operations?
- Don’t wave goodbye to your software development team too soon
Before you recruit a new team for maintenance processes, it’s very important to make a knowledge transfer between the two teams. Moreover, you can’t just say to the new team members “Hey there, this is a project, you’re going to support. Here are some documents. Now get to work.”. This kind of approach will only lead to a disastrous failure.
There should be a step-by-step plan. In our opinion, before leaving the new maintenance team alone, they should communicate with the development team first. The best solution is to let them work together the first couple of weeks or months so that the new team could get familiar with the whole system’s specifics much faster. However, if there is no such option, at least try to organize a couple of knowledge transfer sessions between the two teams. You will see in the nearest future that it is the best investment of time for your project’s success in this case.
- Invite support specialists to the project earlier
There is one mistake that many clients often do: they start thinking about hiring a maintenance team too late. It’s wrong to begin searching for a perfect team just before or even after launching a project in the production environment, while there is a much better option – start adding maintenance team participants already at the development stage to ensure a better understanding of the system.
Consider it as a preparation period for maintenance activities. The people from your future support team after having participated in the development process itself will not only acquire some documental knowledge (project documentation, design guidelines, test protocols, etc.) but also practical knowledge about the product’s specifics, its bottlenecks.
The perfect time to start involving support team members into the process – the QA stage before the final release.
- Create a Knowledge base
Sometimes when a project is extremely huge, its project documentation might look messy, to say the least. When a new maintenance team gets to work, they have nothing to reference to but their own (probably more painful and costly) experience.
What can you do? When the support work has already been started – there is almost nothing you can do, so it’s better to prepare beforehand. A professional maintenance team would always start its own Knowledge Base, however, you will make a meaningful decision if you ask your development team to enter valuable information into the base and update it already during the development process.
A Knowledge Base is an essential instrument, its main goal – provide the team with information on how to solve various occurring problems.
- Prepare a detailed Transition Plan
A Transition plan is a set of instructions on how to smoothly transition from Implementation to Maintenance. A good plan should contain clear points on who is responsible for the transition, what tools and methodologies will be used, and don’t forget about the deadlines! A Transition plan becomes an exceptionally advantageous document when you hire a new service provider for IT-project support activities.
A Transition Plan governs such activities as Knowledge Transfer, schedule, bugs prioritization techniques, deployment procedure, etc.
It may become a surprise for you but the maintenance team’s success depends a lot on how accurate and clarified the Transition Plan is. So try not to skip this part and dedicate a sufficient amount of time to completing this document and then make sure everyone involved in the process gets familiar with it.
- Make sure that the first step is the right step
In most cases, the only reasonable first step for the new team is to make a QA test of the whole system, in some cases – start with a complete code audit. As a result, the maintenance team will be able to perceive all the weak spots of the solution, generate ideas on how to optimize the server part (if needed and if possible).
Moreover, external IT project audit helps get a fresh-minded vision and thus, the new support team might find some features that should be improved or fixed. Sometimes the team might even come across something critical. In this case, also make sure your software development service vendor provides a guarantee on its work. It is a crucial moment because your new maintenance team is here to sustain the application’s vitality and not for feature implementation.
Here in Smartym Pro we’ve had software maintenance projects in different domains and by far the most important lesson we’ve learned – communication helps solve almost any problem. We suggest you, as a client, be more attentive to details, plan activities beforehand and create a convenient working environment for the new team, providing them will all the necessary resources, documents, and knowledge. And if you have any additional questions on how to organize a fruitful project support and maintenance process – contact us for advice. Good luck!