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Going Live at 30,000 Feet


As a Project Manager, it's my responsibility to guide the project team through whatever challenges may come our way. Our latest challenge was a go live for a Microsoft Dynamics CRM upgrade including a migration from on premise to online. The challenge: kicking off the deployment plan while I was on board a flight. You might be wondering how we could even think of going live with the PM unavailable. The answer is simple: with the right team in place and the proper amount of preparation. The three keys to our successful go live included the team, the plan and our communication.

The Team

Having the right team in place is critical to the success of all of our projects, particularly during go live. Our go live team on the ground included developers to deploy our customization and data to the new production environment, a technical architect and infrastructure specialist to handle any environment related tasks or issues that may have been encountered, and a support specialist standing by in case any issues were encountered over all. Knowing that each of these resources were in place and ready to handle anything that may come their way set my mind at ease as I boarded the plane that evening.

The Plan

During the testing phase of the project, we began developing our deployment plan for go live. The best deployment plans include detailed steps to be completed, the assigned resource who will be completing them, the order in which they will be completed, and the approximate time to complete. Our plan allowed us to set expectations with the customer regarding our go live timing. In addition, our deployment plan also included tasks to be completed by the customer including system validation to ensure that the system met with their approval before their end users would be logging in at the start of the next business day. Knowing that the team was up to date on the deployment plan, I knew before boarding my flight that I could count on the designated resources to monitor the customer's approval to begin deployment and kick things off before we were scheduled to land.

As experienced consultants, we've learned to expect the unexpected. So our upgrade or migration deployment plans also include a rollback plan. Should an unforeseen issue arise that is deemed a showstopper, a customer may choose to roll back to their existing system. Should that happen, it's best to be prepared with a detailed step-by-step plan that can be executed before business resumes.

The Communication

You can have the best team in the world with the tightest plan ever created and still fall flat without a good communication plan. Communication between our team and the customer's team is critical to the success of a project, more so at go live than at any other time. At Beringer Associates, we believe in open communication with the customer to make sure we are in sync with one another throughout the project. Throughout the go live process, we provide regular updates as each deployment step is completed. Once my flight landed, I was able to quickly come up to speed on where we were in our deployment plan just by checking my inbox. We also provide updates as each issue is addressed. As an extra measure, we schedule regular checkpoints both internally as well as with the customer throughout the go live period to make sure that we are working together to achieve our goals. When we schedule our checkpoints, we make sure that we have enough time allotted to roll back if needed. Following go live, we make sure that we schedule follow-ups with the customer to address any post go-live issues or questions that may arise, and we keep the communication flowing to ensure a smooth transition to the new system.

While it would never be my first choice to schedule a go live at the same time I'm scheduled to be in flight, should it happen again, I know that with a strong team, proper planning and open communication, our deployment will be a success. Contact Beringer Associates today to find out how we can help take your organization live with Microsoft Dynamics CRM.



Rob is the CTO of Beringer Technology Group, and focuses his efforts on software development, cloud engineering, team mentoring and strategic technical direction. Rob has worked with Beringer since 2005, and has influenced every department from Development, Security, Implementation, Support and Sales. Rob graduated with his MBA from Rowan University in 2012, earned his Bachelors of Computer Science in 1997, and is current with several Microsoft technical certifications. Rob is very active, and loves to mountain bike, weight train, cook and hike with his dog pack.