The Big Problem

New web product rollouts across the industry are very similar. They generally include – last minute development and fixes, a mad scramble to get everything pushed and configured on the proper servers followed by an immediate influx of critical bugs shortly after go-live.
At S3, we just rolled out a completely new web portal that allows our multinational Fortune 100 client to automate a very complex process that used to be managed on excel spreadsheets. Over 20 different user roles, over 300 possible user/status combinations, hundreds of users worldwide, not a simple product by any means.

On last Monday when we flipped the switch, it felt weird to me. Here we were live with a product on which we’ve invested over half of our development budget this year and the usual euphoria of a product release was missing. As I thought about it more, I realized the reason the euphoria was missing was because we hadn’t had the usual chaos leading up to the release.
Our final code change was 5 days before go-live, final push to production 4 days before go-live. First bug reported by users (still waiting for it) – currently at 7 days and counting. Like an elite military squad that trains months for a single mission, all the checking, double checking and testing we did during development made the actual mission less dramatic than the training. Whereas usually the first few days after a release are a complete blur of issue triage and damage control where I’m thinking of the new product every moment, it wasn’t until tonight that I took the time to reflect on how this one was different.
I realized that while I didn’t miss the late nights and sleep deprivation of a usual release, I did miss the adrenaline rush that comes with those final hours and the war-room response to the first issues uncovered. Like many of our employees with development backgrounds, I took great pride in my ability to quickly resolve those last minute problems. It took me a little while to formulate that instead of solving all those little problems that infest traditional releases – we’re actually trying to solve a single very big problem that plagues the entire software industry – how do you develop software quickly, reliably and repeatably. Based on the success of this most recent product, I think we’re closer to fully answering that question than any company I’m aware of.

1 Comment

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  • Nick

    8 days.