Its easy to forget that the project life cycle rarely ends at launch or go live time. After all, youve been focusing on this particular project management stage for months and structuring nearly every aspect of your teams activities around it. Even though deep down you know better, the launch date looms so much that other post-launch related tasks start to slip.
This could be one of the most dangerous mistakes youll ever make. The risks at the finish line are just as deadly as those at the start of the projecteven more, in fact, because you have so much more to lose.
The Real World is Unpredictable
Lets say you created a piece of event management software. You tested the heck out of it, tweaked it, and tested it some more. Stress tests, functionality tests, proofreadingevery test you could think of. You reach the last project management stage, ready to go live. And then comes your first event. What happens?
Chances are that a bug (more likely more than one) will occur at that very launch event. And itll be discovered by real users, not by your teammates. Why? Any number of reasons. The device theyre using may be incompatible. They might be using the app in a way you never intended. Or maybe there are so many people online at once that you cant handle the load. No matter the reason, your launch date just exposed a number of issues that your team now has to race to fixbecause youre no longer on development time. Youre working with an actual, public product.
You Cant Hide Mistakes After Launch
Back when you were in development, you could still work on bugs in relative peace (except for the clients breathing down your neck). Any mistakes found could be corrected in perfect privacy, and even delaying the project launch date wouldnt cause as much as a raised eyebrow, as far as the public was concerned.
After going live, however, every little error message the app spits out will be magnified by the public, who will complain andeven worsespread the word. The client wont be happy to see their six-figure project be the butt of so many negative comments.
And so you jump back into your seat and try to hammer out a newer, bug-free version as fast as you can. It is, to me, even more stressful than the earlier development phase. Because now you have to worry about public opinion.
Plan for Surprises
You cant anticipate everything, of course. Even perfectly run projects may still have a few issues after going live. But you can try your best to make sure youre prepared for any nasty surprises. Risk management, contingency planning, and setting up support teams are just a few of the things you can do to keep launch dates as smooth as possible.
Then you can celebrate.
Image credit, Flickr, e_calamar