From the initial conception of an idea, analysing and defining your requirements through to the development of your software, a lot of time and effort is spent ensuring the finest details are catered for. It can be a common misconception that once the software build is complete the hard work is over and users can be let loose with the ‘end product’. There are still a number of important steps that need to be undertaken and considerations to be made following build completion, to ensure that you get the most out of your software.
Technical requirements for hosting
By the end of a software build phase, you should have already put a lot of thought and planning into how your software will be hosted. There are many hosting options available; including in-house options and a variety of cloud hosting providers, each of which could hold their own benefits for your business based on the type of software you are building. Enable’s hosting preference is cloud-based hosting platform Azure, benefiting us through increased flexibility, quick and easy scalability, a high level of security, and reduced costs. Regardless of which option you choose, it is important that your environment of choice is adequately prepared ready for your software to be deployed to avoid any last-minute hiccups.
Deploying new versions of your software directly to a live environment is not usually advisable. Deploying to a staging environment first can provide the perfect testbed in which to fine-tune your hosting requirements, address any performance issues and fix potentially damaging bugs before pushing to live. Having a staging environment is of particular importance when managing a release to a system that is already operational, as any downtime required to solve issues would cause widespread disruption. This is also an ideal opportunity to test your deployment processes, which if successful you can simply replicate when it comes to your live deployment.
User Acceptance Testing (UAT)
Despite extensive testing that would have taken place during the development of your software, nothing can replace the knowledge and industry experience of the end user. Enable typically supports clients through a 6-week UAT period, during which our clients can thoroughly test their software within a test environment. During this period, we encourage our clients to test their software’s functionality using real world scenarios, and if something isn’t performing as specified it will be rectified by our team.
Deployment to live
Any deployment to your live environment should be carefully planned and scheduled at a pre-defined time, so as not to cause any confusion amongst users. To make things easier and improve the reliability of a software deployment you may want to consider an automated approach. Enable use an automated deployment tool called Octopus Deploy to install and configure new software releases into the target hosting environment. Using automated deployments greatly reduces the risk of downtime during a deployment and helps decrease the time required to perform a release. Being an automated process it is repeatable and reliable, mitigating the risk of potential human error involved in manual deployments.
A proactive approach to maintenance
Following your live deployment there is the temptation to sit back and let your software run by itself. Whilst this may not be an issue for the short term, taking a proactive approach to maintaining and enhancing your software can be vital to long term success. Users working practices, and therefore expectations of software may change over time. Factors such as increased data volumes could put a lot of strain on the original infrastructure, causing existing technology to struggle with increasing demands. Staying one step ahead of the game in terms of software updates, feature enhancements and integrating new technology could reduce the risk of unexpected performance issues or potential downtime.
By neglecting the post-build stages of a software solution, you are at risk of undermining the hard work, and not to mention heavy investment, that will have gone into your project. Whether you have designed and built your software in-house or drafted in third-party expertise, it is important to stay in tune with the processes following development to ensure your software’s success once operationally live. Although the software build as a project may have come to an end, this marks the beginning of what should be a long product lifecycle providing the opportunity to enhance your business through constant innovation.