Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Testing, Troubleshooting New Systems And Tools - Parallel Testing.

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As a business owner or a project manager you are constantly called upon to find newer, more efficient systems and procedures for accomplishing objectives. You evaluate the nature of the need, research alternatives, either select or build an alternative, and ready yourself and everyone affected with plenty of advance warning before taking the new system or process "live." You might request rapid and aggressive feedback from users about any bugs or glitches in need of repair during the beta phase of the implementation.

The beta phase notification is not only a wonderful excuse in the event that there is a problem; it also lowers users' expectations (good expectation management policy) and makes them a bit more wary and observant.

While the above is generally true, there are several steps which should be taken during the 'changing over to the new system' process. Please consider these as words to the wise.

1) Keep the old system up and running. Don't tear it down until you've built, tested and accepted another;

2) Run parallel tests: Continue to use the old system while preparing for full migration to the new system -- yes -- there will be some duplication of efforts and extra resources expended. Consider these costs to be hazard insurance;

3) When you have determined (with sufficient time and utilization) that the new system is fully functional, and you've done a good deal of fine-tuning in response to user observations and suggestions, let the new system run by itself (as if fully-migrated), but without dismantling the old favorite;

4) When you and your end-users have had adequate time to beta test and sharpen up the new system, then (and only then) should you fully retire the old one;

5) While the new system is running independently, periodically sample check various aspects of its functioning it and request further user input.

Simple bottom line: Never discard the old until the new is 1) in place; 2) vigorously parallel tested; and 3) fully de-bugged. Don't take an new, untested lifeboat with you on a voyage out into the open sea. Keep the old one handy until you've tested or tried the new one.

Douglas E Castle for Business And Project Planning And Management 

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