Building software is complex, there are lots to keep track of, and one of the most overlooked parts is the launch. Having a poor launch can take away from an excellent and well-executed product which is why getting it correct is essential!
A launch plan is more than just putting the new code in production and updating a database schema. It starts from the point at which your product is has completed development. The first step for launch should be freezing your code and putting it in a staging environment to do a thorough QA of all the features. After all the bugs are dealt with, it is important to have business stakeholders go through the software and make sure everything is correct from a business perspective. Then finally it is the launch! It is crucial to have good logging and monitoring for launch so you can easily track down bugs.
Freezing code before a software launch is essential. Lots of things can go wrong when there are last-minute changes to software before launch. After a code freeze, the only changes that should be made are fixing bugs found in QA or minor changes for business stakeholders when they run through the software.
Once you do your code freeze, you should create a staging environment as close to production as possible for QA and business stakeholders to go over and test.
Now that you have your code up on a staging environment, it is time to do a thorough QA of all the features that are being released. This doesn’t just involve making sure the happy path works; it also means making sure that things like the correct errors show if a user does something wrong.
During QA, it is okay to fix bugs and deploy them to the staging environment, but there should be no new features developed and squeezed into the software at this point. Once all the bugs are squashed and everything is working as expected, it’s time for the next step!
Business Stakeholder Sign Off
The code is thoroughly tested and should be working exactly as designed now. Next, you should bring in a business stakeholder to confirm everything looks good from a business perspective. If the stakeholder has been QAing throughout the process, there should only be minor text changes.
Once the business stakeholder has gone through all the software and signed off on it, everything should now be in place for finally launching the software!
Launch and Monitor
At this step, every project is slightly different. If you’re shipping an app, it will be different than a website, but the general principles still apply. You should have practiced launching all of the various software dependencies simultaneously and can release the project into production without technical issues.
The important thing at this step is to have good monitoring to quickly identify and fix any issues that come up after the software is launched. Using a tool like Sentry or FullStory to see errors and exceptions as they happen along with good logging should allow you to efficiently find and fix bugs that come up during the launch.
Effectively launching software is not easy! It takes lots of planning and discipline to follow the steps and not cut corners. If these steps are followed, and your team is bought in, then you have a much higher chance of pulling off a great launch for your software!