Managing A Systems Upgrade

Over the years in which I’ve been involved with IT as a software developer, I’ve been on all sides of a major systems upgrade. As developer, I’ve written systems that were the upgrade for a system being phased out; had to support plug-ins that integrate with the newly upgraded systems; assisted in rolling out upgrades.
As a consumer, I’ve been a customer of a corporate who’s upgraded their systems. As a spectator, I’ve seen companies execute upgrades and read the aftermath. One thing is common: upgrades are a headache. As a colleague and friend I’ve listened to peers regale their experiences with corporate upgrades and been the shoulder to cry on.

Sure, updating your WordPress installation is just a click these days- but this is just one piece of software yet a good analogy. It’s rarely the core system that gives you the hassles- it’s all the integration points. The plug-ins that were dependent on the core. Assumptions would have been made in those integrations that were beyond the documentation, the implementation or vision of the core platform. Or they within scope, but now have to change due to “architectural changes” (or any other all-encompassing label). Trust- it can get messy. If you’ve been there, you will know.

And in all that, nothing has impressed me more than the way CellC recently rolled out their billing systems upgrade. They tweeted, they facebooked they warned everyone. It was like their upgrade was a major party that you had been invited to share in and it was going to be awesome! They kept tweeting hour by hour updates as to progress and where the problems were. They released press statements highlighting their challenges and where they were getting unstuck. And when they solved those problems, they let us know. And when it was all done, they kept us in the loop with more updates.

Was I impacted by their upgrade? Yes. Did it affect me to the point where I couldn’t communicate and do business? Yes. Was it for very long? No. Was I satisfied with the progress and the way they handled it? Absolutely! Would I recommend CellC as a provider? Yes! Am I a fan? You bet. Am I amazed by their execution (knowing what I know an upgrade to be like?). Definitely. Geek respect. They did an awesome job.

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