Operational readiness refers to an important step of the product life cycle, where it must perform efficiently in its intended environment. Although the product is designed to function in the situation, minor changes in the surrounding environment can hamper its efficiency. Therefore, the problem requires conscious thinking to analyze and solve the potential risk before launch.
What Is Operational Readiness?
Operational readiness involves efficient functioning of the project and maintenance through specifically designed procedures keeping potential problematic aspects in mind. The Project Manager should finalize the operation readiness process during the initial planning phase to ensure the endeavor's proper budget and resource allocation. Additionally, members should not perform the task at the end of the project; rather, it should be part of each phase of the building process. It holds benefits in the long run, such as easy access to the problem at each step. Documentation of such problems will also facilitate finding solutions by saving time.
Components of an Operational Readiness Process
For perfect operational readiness, the following factors should be mandatorily followed:
Correct documents are written in a manner to provide systematic information to help the maintenance of the project. The organization and structure are highly important while framing the document. Documents required for different phases are -
1. Historical Project Data and Standard Operating Information
Standard operating procedures or SOP are specific for each project and provide detailed and mechanical information. Also, historical data and proposed and followed management methods are needed for maintenance and clarity at different phases while handling the project or product. Some of the specific documents are Safe Work Procedures, Lockout/Tagout (LOTO), Permit to work processes and procedures, historical data on troubleshooting, quality control processes, test procedures, construction turnover packages, test results, and other data that might be of relevance at any point of time.
2. Facility Documents
It focuses on daily requirements and states practices to be performed daily. For instance, system test procedures, electrical and plumbing systems, building structure, defining built configuration, and operating and maintenance manuals.
3. Building Site Operational and Support Personnel
This step is required due to the complexity of the process. Already working professionals and specialists hold a perfect grasp over every minute technical specificities. They may look for different opportunities rather than continuing the operation and maintenance process or may not be able to continue due to different sites of the product. Such knowledge beforehand will recruit either new people later or keep employees accordingly from the beginning. Thus, planning site operations and the support of the team are necessary. The different sites can be remote locations. Hence, travel and lodging resources must be included in the planning phase.
4. Maintenance and Service Contracts
It comes under the planning of deciding the responsibilities of individuals and teams. The process also indicates in-house work and the amount of work to be handled by external teams and companies. It assists proper assignment of work and understanding specific requirements regarding skills and talents.
The 5 Key Elements to Assess Operational Readiness
Assessing operational readiness should be pre-planned and based on the following points -
1. Is your staff ready?
Assessing staff readiness can be done through insight into two things: firstly, if the schedule and workforce are enough to meet the deadline, and secondly, are all the right skills present in the team. It should be questioned if there is a need for a specific skill or number of such people. The staff can prepare by considering the following aspects.
How to Prepare Your Staff?
By counting the available people for each responsibility, understanding the communication level of staff based on technicality and simplicity, and coordination among staff members of different participating organizations.
2. Is Your Environment Ready?
Understanding the operational environment needs assessment with detail and careful insight. The functional and operational ease of handling is required and not just expected to be understood by the user. Things might be uncomfortable for users and hence need to be customized accordingly. The best method is to involve testers from the practical world rather than including only technical ones. Also, cross-check all the operational targets are met before launch.
How to Prepare Your Environment for Launch?
Cross-check if each component, including the smallest and obvious, is completely built and ready for launch. Also, try to be positive in answering these questions: Are there any targets left to meet or points from testers left to be corrected? Were operational readiness tests in the external environment completely fine? Are there any questionable things from internal, external, or stakeholders still pending?
3. Are Your End Users Ready?
It is an important question focusing on the public's awareness of the launched product. Accompanied is another aspect: does the public understand the worth of the product? If the product is designed for a certain population, it is important to make them understand its full potential to gain maximum benefits and usage. Proper marketing and easy and interactive user manuals are great options for informing the public.
How to Prepare Your End Users?
Companies can prepare themselves by focusing on the end users, which will eventually prepare the customers. Incorporate the solution to all the problems faced, make the basic functions easily operable, and inform the end users about every situation and the actions they are supposed to take with real-life examples to increase the value and awareness of the product. Make sure end users know when and how they will be able to get and use the product.
4. Have You Considered and Planned for Your Risks?
There are multiple risks involved in the projects and products. The highly significant step is to identify and accept them. Then, work on the risks to mitigate them through a proper plan. Numerous things can cause problems during the launch or while operating the product. A strategic backup plan can handle the risks.
How to Gauge and Prepare for Risks?
IT professionals can check their site capacity, server capacity, and space issues on machines. General problems can be the inability to meet the deadline, carry out completely new changes, handle customers with honest communication, and many more.
5. Do You Have a Maintenance Plan?
The operation will raise the requirement for maintenance. A dedicated plan and team are required to handle the extra load when things go wrong. Even if things do not go wrong, a regular update or checkup will be required to understand potential issues.
How to Create a Maintenance Plan?
To create a maintenance plan, keep focusing on time requiring updates and checkups for proper maintenance. In addition, ensure the frequency of maintenance and the number of resources available can be handled to perform it efficiently.
Assess for Operational Readiness to Ensure Smooth Rollouts and Ongoing Maintenance
Assessment is important to recognize the problems encountered in the worst-case scenario. A strategic plan to counter the issues should be planned first while initializing the plan. An operational readiness assessment is possible only after the project is complete, so in case things go wrong, already-made arrangements will be helpful.
Operational readiness is an important aspect that can not be hushed. Rather, it requires a mindful approach to decide the steps to be taken. Make a note of all the required documentation and follow the key elements to avoid panic at the end moment.
Making a career in project management has never been this easy! Enroll in our Post Graduate Program in Project Management to get started today!
Become a Project Manager in 2023
Ace your project management career in 2023 by signing up for our PGP Project Management Training Course. This course is aligned with PMI-PMP® and IASSC-Lean Six Sigma. Attend live online interactive classes, masterclasses from UMass Amherst, Harvard Business Publishing case studies, and capstone projects.