Basic Planning Engagement (Duration: 2 – 12 Weeks)

Our Basic Planning Engagement is designed to help you identify and plan your new Application(s) from both Tactical (short term) and Strategic (long term) vantage points.

Phase 1: Gathering Requirements and Assessing Business Needs

During this time, we discuss the need for development or implementation of software, whether custom built or purchased.  Common questions that are answered during this Phase are listed below.

  • What problem(s) are you trying to solve and who are the intended users?
  • Are there procedures, or informational, security, and audit requirements in place that need to be mirrored in the software?
  • Is there an off the shelf application that will fit the technical and business requirements while being configurable enough to handle your organization’s expected user base and data retention?  If you have reviewed prepacked software offerings, what were they and in what areas did they fall short?
  • What will the learning curve be for users, in terms of end user training, loss in productivity during transition, and what will the support costs be compared to a custom solution?

Phase 2: Sunrise and Sunset Planning

We talk about the design of the Application or the suggested network configuration supplied by the Vendor, as well as the supporting infrastructure that can be either re-purposed or needs to be ordered and the time frame.  This information is based upon both the architecture of the application and capacity for the expected user base. We also discuss what your long term plan is for long term success. The following are common questions that are answered during this phase:

  • Does this mean that you develop and extend over time or do you need to be able to patch the vendor supplied application when updates are available?
  • Can a custom solution be implemented before the business need becomes critical to the point of excessive stress for your organization?
  • Is this roll out going to be an application that has to be implemented while custom development is performed, where we will eventually need to export and remodel the data?
  • How long do you see this application being in use within your organization and what are the requirements for determining when to sunset it?

Phase 3: Planning and Design Documentation

Developing without a plan is planning to fail.  We have been successful over our careers with minimal planning and documentation, but there was always planning.  The depth of the planning and documentation should be mostly based upon the scope of the application, duration of usage, user and data capacity, and required configuration settings.  Some of the more frequently answered questions for this Phase are below.

  • Where and what data is stored and how is it accessed?  How do the users interact with the application and is there a requirement to handle granular user rights?
  • Is there a logical separation of the application’s pieces that could be reused?
  • How is the application and the data going to be secured?  What is the over all security posture of the application?
  • If the application has multiple logical parts, how is that going to look on the network segment(s)?
  • How do you intend to update the application over time?  What is the threshold for deploying the entire application at once versus component updates?

Phase 4: Resourcing

Nothing can be built, deployed, or maintained without resources.  This phase helps with a Gap Analysis between your current technology resources (both the people and the hardware) and assists you with some basic scheduling for ramping up resources, if necessary.

  • What will it take to build and support the application over time, both from a development and defect resolution standpoint, and do you have enough hardware and support staff to manage the project?
  • When will it be critical to bring on and training new resources?  When should the new or re-purposed servers be required for testing or hosting?

Phase 5: Incident Support and Disaster Recovery

There will be problems.  Servers will crash, users will click the wrong buttons, power will go out, and service accounts will become locked out or compromised.  How will your business handle these types of situations?  Some of the standard questions for this phase are below.

  • Who will handle the problem reports and how will they be managed?  What is the escalation plan?
  • What happens if one or more machines are compromised?  Do you have time to repair it or do you need a standby environment?  What happens if the physical location hosting the machines suffers a fire or flooding, destroying some or all the machines?

No one will have all of the answers immediately and very few are able to bring a fully documented plan to the table initially, but if we can help you categorize, prioritize, and move forward confidently, we consider the job well done.