What is Operational Readiness & how do we get there?
So you’re all guns blazing to land your new retail tech transformation? That’s the first prize of course, get live and get trading! But have you thought about the critical hyper-care period after launch and beyond?
What do you need to factor in to ensure you keep your new baby healthy?
“You worked hard to grow this baby, now you need to give it some serious love to make sure it succeeds in life!”
Now, the Devops advocates would draw us beautiful figure of 8 diagrams and a smooth flow of activities in between dev and operations. That’s a great direction but also more of a journey which may be somewhat in conflict with retailers’ initial urge to land the change and do what you do best, i.e. sell!
Don’t get me wrong, it’s certainly a goal and a very valid one so we’ll discuss that in a later article. For now though let’s refocus on some of the basics…
What do we mean by Operational Readiness?
For us, it is simply the state of being prepared to operate a new or changed system or process. In the context of retail technology transformation, operational readiness means ensuring that the new technology is fully implemented and operational and that the people and processes are in place to support it.
Easy right? Yet still we see it tacked on at the end or, worse, forgotten about or just handed off to another team or provider to worry about.
There are a number of steps that can be taken to ensure operational readiness for a retail technology transformation. These include:
Our most successful clients have worked with us to address these 6 key steps, do the same and you too can help to ensure that your retail technology transformation is a success.
Now for those who want to dig a bit deeper, here’s where Spike come in to give you the confidence to know you are operationally ready. That is, using OAT to prove OR.…
What are we looking to prove through Operational Acceptance Testing?
Here’s our focus in a nutshell:
Breaking this down further, in OAT we’re looking forensically at these areas:
Quick definition: What is OAT and where does it fit in?
Operational acceptance testing (OAT) is a crucial step in the implementation of retail technology.
This type of testing verifies that the software, hardware, and other systems are ready for use in a production environment. OAT is essential for ensuring that your tech works as intended and that it is stable and maintainable.
For true confidence it should run in parallel to a number of complimentary test areas that we group as “non-functional testing”, particularly performance and security testing.
Our goal in including OAT in the implementation process is to ensure that your technology systems are ready for use in a production environment and that they can provide a positive customer experience while minimising risks and avoiding costly downtime.
We cover 5 core areas:
1. Change Execution and Back out
- Has the system been configured correctly? Has it been integrated with other systems as required, and is it ready for deployment in a production environment?
2. Service Availability and Component Failure
The functionality and accessibility of a service or system for a specified period define its service availability.
3. Resilience, Backup and Recovery
Resilience focuses on preparing for and withstanding disruptions, backup involves creating copies of data for protection, and recovery deals with restoring systems and data after a disruption has occurred.
4. Monitoring & Alerting
Monitoring and alerting are integral to performance engineering. Here’s some of the areas we look at:
1. System behaviour
2. Resource utilisation
3. Performance metrics
4. Enabling performance optimisation
5. Problem identification
6. Capacity planning.
7. Performance anomalies or threshold breaches.
Monitoring and alerting are integral to performance engineering. Monitoring provides insights into system behaviour, resource utilisation, and performance metrics, enabling performance optimisation, problem identification, and capacity planning. Alerting complements monitoring by providing timely notifications about performance anomalies or threshold breaches. As well as checking the right alerts are in place and fire, we also look for prevalence of noisy alerts as too much noise leads to distraction or, worse, to critical alerts being ignored.
5. Operational Support & Procedures
Operational Support and Procedures are critical components of ensuring efficient and effective performance within an organisation.
They involve the development and implementation of processes, guidelines, and resources to support the day-to-day operations and activities of a business.
1. Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs):
2. Training and Development
3. Establish KPIs
4. Communication and Collaboration
5. Resource Allocation and Management
6. Problem-solving and Decision-making Processes
7. Risk Management
8. Continuous Monitoring and Evaluation
9. Documentation and Knowledge Management
We’ll talk in later articles about Observability, Chaos Testing and Site Reliability, and Engineering as more innovative directions which mature retailers are focusing on – they absolutely have merit and we’ve helped a number to succeed.
Our focus here is somewhat more modest, more an operational MVP that balances sufficient readiness without the risk of missing that key first go-live!
To summarise then, here’s how to make sure your retail technology transformation is ready for operational success: