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Planning a Software Rollout Project: Software Deployment Projects should Adopt a Rollback Plan

Projects of this nature can vary considerably depending on the size of the project and the organisation. There can be many ways to deploy software and different tools that are available to do the job. Assembling a capable team to carry out deployment projects can result in a satisfying outcome.

Consider Deployment Project Numbers

There are a number of ways that software rollouts can be carried out and this can largely depend on the size and type of the organisation, so it is also very important to consider the environment. This will involve a combination of any of the following –

  • An enterprise rollout environment with many computers
  • A medium sized rollout environment with some computers
  • A small rollout environment with fewer computers
  • Standard Software Applications
  • Non-Standard Software Applications

Preparing for a Rollout Project

Testing how the new software is going to work is vitally important to ensure as little downtime as possible. The majority of machines in an organisation will have standard applications installed on them, so having one of these as a test would be quite sufficient for the initial stages. Also ensure that the time an installation takes is recorded, as this will become important later.

Any non-standard machines would be treated separately, usually at the end of a software rollout which is commonly known as the mop-up. The mop-up will involve re-visiting sites and departments to upgrade at a later date.

Devising a Software Rollout Schedule

Now that the correct rollout environment has been established and the software is proven to be bug free, dates and times on which the software rollout will occur now need to be planned. It should already be established how long a single installation will take. Time could then be added on for carrying out technical support in the instance that problems arise.

This information will help to establish how long it will take to install on every machine and it could be divided up as follows –

  • Number of Sites
  • Number of Departments at each Site
  • Number of remote small locations (for example only 1 or 2 machines at a site)

Once the total number of machines is known and how long an installation takes, the time the software rollout project takes can be determined depending on the structure of the organisation.

Adopt an Approach to the Software Deployment Project

This will of course be dependent on the size of the organisation in which the rollout project is to be carried out. The following numbers are a guide as to what numbers to consider for each relevant sized rollout –

  • 10,000 machines plus should be considered an enterprise deployment
  • 4,000-10,000 machines should be considered a medium deployment
  • 0-4,000 machines should be considered a small sized deployment

Taking an enterprise software deployment as an example, it’s usually good to target large numbers of machines with standard applications on first. This should employ the use of automated deployment tools, for example in a Windows environment SMS server or SCCM could be used for software deployment, (which is the later version of SMS.) In addition, targeting large numbers first will keep the managerial pressure at bay, as it will be seen that good progress is being made.

A preliminary of this would be to consider what contingencies there should be in advance, should things go wrong and a rollback is needed to the previous software environment. In an enterprise organisation, large numbers of machines with standard applications is a good place to start. If the deployment project was to corrupt a computer at any point, then there should be a standard computer imaging system in place such as a Windows RIS server. This can ensure the machine is re-built to the previous environment.

Smaller software rollout environments may not have the budget for sophisticated imaging systems, therefore other contingencies would need to be considered. This could involve a small daily number of machines to begin with and a manual means of backing up non-standard machines in advance. Software such as Symantec Ghost could be used for this.

As the software rollout project advances, then the amount of machines per day could be ramped up to larger numbers depending on progress. In addition, smaller companies will need to carefully consider their staffing requirements. Carrying out rollout projects whilst simultaneously performing day-to-day support would prove difficult. Sufficient resources are of paramount importance in ensuring a software deployment is successful and therefore being completed on time and under budget.

There are many different types of methodologies that are used to plan various types of projects. Corporate staff can receive training in these areas to maximise knowledge on the various stages involved within an Information Technology project. Project teams are made up of many people with a lot of different skills sets that add an important contribution to successful implementations.

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