Ensure Readiness

Step 1: Ensure Technical Readiness

Most testing should occur in the Build phase, but depending on the environment you are working in, additional testing may need to happen once an application is ready for release. The first step is to verify that the application is functional, meets stakeholder needs, and able to handle expected usage volumes. Ensure the following testing is complete:

  1. Perform end-to-end functional testing - Perform final regression tests to verify that the application is functional. When possible, use automated tests to cover core functionality, augmented by manual testing for complete coverage. If your test strategy includes parallel independent testing, this will need to be completed.
  2. Ensure stakeholder satisfaction - Confirm that the Product Owner has accepted the application and all User Acceptance Testing is complete. Ideally, acceptance testing occurred throughout the development process, so now you are confirming the reviews were completed by all relevant stakeholder groups and performing any final demonstrations.
  3. Validate data migration procedures - If the release requires you to migrate existing production data to the new application, test these procedures and use automated reviews to ensure the migration completes successfully.
  4. Develop and test your deployment plan - Ensure the deployment plan is complete by testing in a production-like environment. All participants required to execute the plan—including support teams (networking, DBAs)—should be included in these test runs and understand their responsibilities. Ideally the deployment process is automated so these tests require minimal effort.
  5. Perform concurrent load testing - For high-volume applications, test to verify the application’s ability to perform at the expected peak volumes. This testing should be performed in an environment that closely mirrors the configuration of the production system. At a minimum, perform an updated hardware sizing analysis for the expected volumes.
  6. Provision Users - Ensure that a process is established to provide access to users of the application. New users should be able to leverage a documented process to request access to appropriate authorization roles. When an application is initially released, users may need to be provisioned in bulk. Establishing a plan well before going live will ensure that users will have the correct access on day 1.

 Key Insight: Test with representative data

Tests are only valid if they mimic how your users will actually use the application. Applications can act differently when confronted with different data and it is best to find this out through testing rather than by users in production. Therefore test datasets should mirror what you expect in production as much as possible, both in format as well as volume. However, sensitive business data, including user profile information, should not be loaded into non-production environments.

Step 2: Prepare the Business for Change

Although the application may be technically fit, it will only deliver value if our users are able to use it. Below are important strategies to ensure the stakeholder community is prepared to adopt the new application:

Identify all the stakeholders that may be affected

Start by identifying the complete stakeholder community which will include the end users and their managers, operations teams, help desk personnel, and other related IT teams. Change management plans should include this complete group.

Communicate the change

Notify stakeholders of the upcoming application release and any changes to their way of working. Ideally, this communication is performed by “champions”, cultivated within the business, who have been part of the team throughout the project. They can use traditional communication channels within the organization and put the change in context of the business. Common communication techniques include release webinars, corporate newsletters, and release notes.

Prepare the support team

Before the release, ensure the support team is prepared to respond to end user requests. See this guide for details on how to structure and enable your support team.

Educate and train end users

Appian’s simple, intuitive interface reduces the need for formal end user training; however, for applications which will introduce a significant change to the user’s way of working, training should be considered. Here are methods to consider:

  • Help text built into the application 
  • User guide and application documentation 
  • Virtual online training videos
  • Formal classroom training

These options require varying levels of investment. Therefore, the right option should be chosen based on the complexity of the change involved.

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