Friday, June 13, 2014

Installation Planning - Part 2

When developing the installation checklist it is important to keep in mind that the purpose of the document is to assist the engineer, thus it should be formatted by the individual based on his/her preference.This provides flexibility to do what you feel is best and not contain yourself with formatting, proper language and etc...

Here how my installation checklists usually look. They have six columns, TaskID, Task, Server, Notes, OPR (Office of Primary Responsibility) and Status. Then, there are several sections, each section is usually a specific product or a mini milestone.

The first section is always Pre-Requisites, this section lists everything that needs to be done in preparation for installation. This includes actions on your side as well as clients. I include items such as service account generation, hardware/software per-requisites, required access, licenses, downloading software, anti-virus exclusions if necessary, people resources and etc... Trust me, when it comes down to documenting what is required, it is always safer to list an item rather than ignore it, or verbally communicate it. This provides a one stop area for checking off completed items and can easily be copied and pasted for dissemination.

The next step is Onsite Preparation. This section includes items such as verifying prerequisites, staging software etc... It is important to budget some time for this because unmet prerequisites can present unforeseen challenges down the road. From personal experience, I never deployed a solution for a client where all prerequisites were met like they were supposed to.

The next sections are dependent on the solution, I usually have a section for each product with a single step for particular components or sub components. For example:

3. Install Product XYZ (this is the section heading and doesn't count as an actual task).
3.1 Install Product XYZ
3.2 Install subcomponent a
3.3 Install subcomponent b
3.4 Configure integration between Product XYZ and SharePoint.
3.5 Test the integration

I recommend including basic functional testing in each section, this ensures that each solution component is individually tested.

After all component deployment sections I usually have a section for end to end testing, this is defined by the solution, but at a minimum the data flow should be tested, all connectivity, backups, reboots (to make sure everything starts as expected). Keep in mind that this testing section is not a replacement for formal solution testing, this is only to ensure that the installation of product was successful.

Last, I have a finalize section. This includes system testing, altering of logging parameters, as well as documentation of specific installation parameters and system information.