Operational Readiness: 3 Keys to a Successful Takeoff for Any Large-Scale System

By Nicole Helfrich, Delivery Director, Project & Program Management on Sep. 14, 2016 View Comments

After you’ve spent months preparing for the launch of a large-scale initiative, the last thing you want to experience is a deployment debacle due to untested systems and unprepared users.

I recently attended a project management training class that referenced one of the airline industry’s worst. It’s a textbook example of what can happen at deployment with any system when certain, seemingly mundane, operational functions are dismissed during testing.

It happened on March 27, 2008, opening day for Terminal 5 at London Heathrow Airport, which today is hailed as British Airways’ most technologically advanced and lavish terminals in the world. On launch day, however, Terminal 5 suffered debilitating operational glitches like a malfunctioning car park system and its baggage software being left in test mode. These operational software glitches caused a cascade of issues, including 23,000 misplaced bags, 500 cancelled flights, and a 5-day recovery from the debacle.

The pains felt by employees and travelers of Terminal 5 could have been avoided with focus on a few key areas that are often forgotten due to inexperienced project leads or lack of resources to support these operational readiness efforts.

Here are three steps to ensure a smooth takeoff for any new system:

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