The programming team has finished their work, so it’s time for the application’s deployment. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? However, to implement it the right way, several tasks have to be taken care of. Don’t worry – we know exactly what to do.
This article will showcase how deployment can be planned for a successful release. We’ve created it based on our experience in building software solutions. It will explain what could go wrong and how to prevent potential errors from happening. Here are our tips and tricks.
Deployment – what is it?
It refers to the process of making a particular version of an application or system available for end-users. This process involves moving the product from a development environment to a production environment, where it will be used by customers. The purpose of the deployment stage is to ensure that the latest version of the application is stable, secure, and ready to be explored.
Deployment is a critical stage in the software’s lifecycle. It requires careful planning and execution to minimize downtime and ensure that the application is functioning properly. The process typically involves several steps, such as testing, integration, and release management. All these activities are usually handled by a dedicated team. They are responsible for ensuring that the deployment is performed smoothly and without any disruptions.
There are various approaches to deployment, such as continuous deployment and continuous delivery. Their purpose is to automate the process. Simply put, they minimize the manual effort required to move an application from development to production. By automating certain activities, companies can reduce the risk of human error. Additionally, they can increase the speed and efficiency of deployment.
Now you know why deployment is a crucial stage for any software solution and how important it is to plan and execute it with attention to detail. It’s time for us to share practical, experience-based tips on how to prepare the app for a successful, seamless release. Shall we?
4 steps to prepare an app for deployment
The advice we provide in this article is focused on effectiveness and detecting any potential malfunctions before they occur. Thanks to the below-discussed points, you will understand why these steps are essential.
Testing to prove compliance with acceptance criteria
The team provides a particular output, which is usually at least one functional feature. Before each production deployment, the application must be properly tested. To do that, the team checks the project acceptance criteria outlined during the sprint planning session. Then, they determine if the result matches the definition of completion (in other words, the definition of done).
Tests should be performed in the development environment, but as close as possible to the production environment. If the latter uses extensive databases (like user databases, etc.), the team should ensure that a similar amount of data is available for testing. Especially when migrating data from one app to another. This can be done in two ways:
- using fixtures to generate a fake database
- anonymizing the production database and uploading it to the local environment
Thoroughly testing all the changes in code and taking into account all the areas it might affect can prevent numerous deployment failures. What we recommend during this phase is a limited trust principle that every team member should follow. They should verify each other’s work at all times. Situations where someone assures that something will work in production and everyone believes their word should never occur. Deploying without detailed tests is the first step towards a disaster.
Determining if the feature has sense business-wise
Sometimes the result produced by the team loses its business justification. It can lead to the abandonment of a particular feature that will not be deployed to the production environment. A situation like this can be caused by various factors, including rapidly changing project scope, inappropriate scheduling, or evolving market conditions. Regardless of the reason, the team should be confident that the functionality meets the business conditions originally assumed when the production process started. To know that, they have to ensure it’s in tune with current user needs.
Here’s an example:
During the COVID-19 outbreak, apps that could classify areas of a country based on the number of cases were extremely popular. They would code each region with green, yellow, and red. However, before the app was finished, in many places all zones became red. The feature wasn’t really helpful anymore. Then, the number of cases started to drop (like in Poland). However, according to the legislation back then, all the regions remained red. The implementation of a feature based on different colors wasn’t justified anymore.
Such hiccups might also happen when suddenly project management on the client’s side changes. For instance, they come up with a new vision for the software solution. Their ideas might not be aligned with the latest features produced by the team, which will lead to shelving them.
Although problems like that are rare, developers should be encouraged to double-check if what they built meets the expectations and requirements of the original plan. That’s the only way to know if the product will satisfy not only consumers but also the product owner.
Planning required resources
Implementation of the app’s new version is a process that has a significant risk of failure. That’s why it’s crucial to plan resources accordingly. Here’s what has to be taken into consideration:
Development team’s availability schedule
All team members should be available during the deployment day. If there are any problems, this will enable quick response and introduction of any necessary improvements (so-called hot fixes). Although the software is tested thoroughly in the development environment, it’s not rare that its performance might vary in the production environment. Therefore, the team should be prepared to immediately work on the product if something unexpected happens.
Time of the day
Deployment implies that the product will be temporarily unavailable for users. The chosen time of the day will rigidly depend on the type of business and the specificity of the app. Talking with the client to agree upon that detail is the first step here. The best time for implementation is when users are not using the software platform. Alternatively, when there are only a few users online.
Pro-tip: Remember to not deploy on Fridays. You probably can tell why it’s a rule of thumb. No one wants to work over the weekend to fix sudden errors. We can’t underline enough the fact that updating the production environment provides an element of uncertainty. To let everyone, including the team and the client, rest during their weekend days, Friday is off-limits when it comes to deployment.
Some kind of important event
There are certain days when deployment should be the last thing to perform. They usually mean increased user activity or more tasks for the client’s employees. One example is Black Friday, which is an extremely busy period for many retailers. Updating an app during that time would not only cut the brand’s revenue but also jeopardize its reputation.
Another time when deployment should be forbidden is when the system is presented to the company’s management or board. If something happens and the functionalities won’t work as they should, the stakeholders might doubt the whole project. To avoid described situations, deployment should be postponed and not planned even three days before the event.
Checking the technical requirements
Last but not least, the development team should pay attention to the server’s resources before they begin the implementation process. There has to be enough space to update the environment. If the resources are scalable, programmers have to be sure that they will be capable of handling the new version of the app. Obviously, the server also shouldn’t be under maintenance during deployment. That’s because these two processes could clash and cause problems on both sides.
A Service Level Agreement (SLA) comes in handy to determine which parties are responsible for specific situations. It defines what should happen in case of server failure, who has to restart it, and how much time they have to do so. Additionally, the client should agree with the IT provider what’s the response time in case of the app’s potential technical malfunction. SLA and warranty are designed to protect the team from unjustified complaints. Moreover, it also supports the client when something goes wrong.
As you can see, there are many factors that can influence the success of the app’s deployment. All of them are extremely important. The team has to be cautious and always think a few steps ahead to prevent the whole system from collapsing. Although it sounds challenging, a successful implementation is definitely something to celebrate. Its purpose is always to make the software product better and to give the end users something they’ve been waiting for – whether it’s a new feature or an update that fixes an annoying bug.
Are you in search of an outsourcing partner that will take care of your software development needs? G-Group.dev has versatile specialists on board. We will help you achieve your goals and create a solution in harmony with your brand’s vision. Our devs always write code and deploy apps according to the best industry practices and state-of-the-art. Contact us and we will discuss all the details. Ready to elevate your business game?