Category Archives: Deployment

Q&A Deployment Plan Meeting Part 2

Facilitator: Thank you for joining in once again. Han Toan has already answered a lot of questions about Deployment Test Meeting over here. These questions were raised after reading his writing about his Deployment Plan Meeting.

Questions are still coming in. I’ve got green cards from numbers 38, 95, and 12. Number 38, you can ask your question.

Attendee number 38: Did you take the communication styles of the attendees in the meeting into account?

Speaker: During the preparation of the meeting I sent a concept version of the Deployment Plan to all the attendees. So the techies could study all actions and make notes on it.

The project leaders also brought their hard copy. They used it to note down important actions. I would not be surprised, that it was also used for time tracking: will all actions be discussed during the meeting? There were also managers carrying small notebooks.

One of the biggest advantages of the beamer was, that changes were shown. Next to verbal clarifications.

 

Facilitator: I’ve got green cards from numbers 95, and 12, and 23. Number 95, you can ask your question.

Attendee number 95: A Deployment Plan looks like a scripted test case. People say, that there is no need to make a test case, if it is used once. So why the hassle?

Speaker: I consider the Deployment Plan as a checklist of ordered and dependent actions. Still people might consider it as a time consuming artifact or test case.

Due to the complexity of the system and the number of involved parties it is handy to have some kind of script ready for use. Weeks before the deployment there was enough time to think things over.

Let’s assume I have the idea to have a dinner with my team. There are practical things like the location and time period. But there are also other things to take into account: is the food not too hot by the use of peppers? Or is vegetarian food available? If this is the first time, then it takes some time to arrange it.

 

Facilitator: I’ve got green cards from numbers 12 and 23. Number 12, you can ask your question.

Attendee number 12: At the beginning of the meeting I would start with introductions. I missed that part in your story.

Speaker: To me it is a logical step, so I skipped it in my writing. But I agree with you, that a round of introductions is needed. I think, that it is good to realise, that you work with human beings with needs and feelings.

 

Facilitator: Number 23

Attendee number 23: Were enough technical people attending?

Speaker: It was a prerequisite for the meeting. Technical actions had to be discussed. A manager can be helpful, but a techie knows the implications.

To be frank with you, I have to add, that one system administrator was not present. I talked with him about all relevant actions for him. Then I got the assurance, that I could call him during the meeting.

 

Facilitator: A yellow card from number 38.

Attendee number 38: Were all involved managers involved?

Speaker: Yes, they were. It was relevant to get fast approval for additional actions. During the meeting a techie could look at his manager for approval.

 

Facilitator: At the moment there are no more questions on the stack. This is your last chance. Okay. I see number 2. Number 7 and number 9. Number 2.

Attendee number 2: What was your Lesson Learned from this meeting?

Speaker: During the meeting I also updated the Deployment Plan myself. This way costed me a lot of energy, because I also wanted to see, how people reacted. The next time I let someone else update the Deployment Plan.

 

Facilitator: Number 7.

Attendee number 7: Why do you share this story?

Speaker: For me it was a logical step to set up a meeting and be a chairman. It looked effortless to lead this process. It was not completely the case. What is important, that I want to share the steps and actions I took.

 

Facilitator: Number 2.

Attendee number 2: Why do you share this QA?

Speaker: This is my way to exercise answering questions. It is a quite thorough one, because it can strengthen my story. Sometimes I use the answers, the next time I tell my story.

Furthermore it shows, how K-cards can be used.

 

Facilitator: There are no more cards on the stack. I hope you had some refreshing blog posts about a deployment plan and a meeting. Next time there will a blog post about more technical stuff.

Have a nice day (and fruitful Deployment Plan Meeting:).

 

Q&A Deployment Plan Meeting

Facilitator:  Thank you reading “In Case Of Emergeny Press 1“.  I’ve got green cards from numbers 95, 27, 38, and 23. Number 95, you can ask your question.

Attendee number 95: Did you consider Inspection according to Gilb and Graham?

Speaker: I am familiar with the Inspection according to Gilb and Graham. Frankly I did not consider this method. The question should be rephrased as
“Would you choose Inspection according to Gilb and Graham?”.
Looking backwards it is too far fetched. The people should receive proper training and there was just a block of few hours. Another disturbing element is mentioning the most biggest issues first. This can lead to a lot browsing forward and backward through the deployment plan. This can be quite disturbing.

 

Facilitator: Number 27, you can ask your question.

Attendee number 27: What was your role in the project?

Speaker: My role was a test coordinator.

Facilitator: I’ve got a yellow card from number 68. Number 68.

Attendee number 68: Why did you call for this meeting? It is not your task.

Speaker: I thought, that it was important. The next step is to make things happen: I planned in the meeting and I became the chairman.

 

Facilitator: There are no more yellow cards for this question on the stack. So we move on the next green card. Number 38.

Attendee number 38: Did the suppliers provide any deployment plans?

Speaker: All the suppliers provided deployment plans.

Attendee no 38: This looks like a time consuming operation. Was there any reluctance?

Speaker: One supplier did not see the benefits at first. Then he made a Deployment Plan after some talking.

 

Facilitator: At the moment I’ve got one green card from number 23. Number 23.

Attendee no 23: why did you need a deployment plan?

Speaker: I asked my test team the same question. One of the testers told me, that experience taught, that these plans were necessary. A few months before I personally witnessed a rollback.

Facilitator: we have a red card. Number 3.

Attendee no 3: What is a rollback?

Speaker: A rollback is, when the backup is restored. In this particular case also the old system was reinstalled.

Facilitator: we have a yellow card. Is it about the rollback? Okay. Number 17 go ahead.

Attendee no 17: Do you need to test it? The system, which was rolled back.

Speaker: Of course

 

Facilitator: There are no more yellow cards on the stack. I’ve got green cards from 54, 65, and 78. So number 54, you can ask your question.

Attendee no 54: Which format did you use for the Deployment Plan?

Speaker: I asked and got permission from one of the suppliers to use their Deployment Plan as a starting point. The advantage was, that it was familiar to the employees of this supplier.

 

Facilitator: I’ve got green cards from 65 and 78. So number 65.

Attendee no 65: Why do you call it an emergency? Nobody got hurt.

Speaker: How do you call a situation with a person cutting someone’s tent? And what would happen, if this person is caught in the act?
How do you call a situation with a system, which cannot be used right after the deployment?

Attendee no 65: [nods]

 

Facilitator: I’ve got green cards from numbers 78, 95 and 24. Number 78, you can ask your question.

Attendee no 78: Looking at your technical background it seems easy to be a chairman. Do you know everything?

Speaker: I do not know everything. I cannot know everything.

Attendee no 78: Did you not feel vulnerable?

Speaker: At certain points of the meeting I was vulnerable. Quite vulnerable. But I was also confident, that we could make a deployment plan as a group. Sometimes I had to ask for support and I got it.

 

Facilitator: No yellow cards. Number 95.

Attendee no 95: So technical knowledge and experience are not necessary?

Speaker: The important thing is to have a safe environment. A place, where people can voice their thoughts.
In order to discuss all actions I chose a business way of meeting. Please stick to facts. And we’re all here to accomplish something like a group.
I watched for body language. If I was not sure, then I stated the action, looked to the person and became silent.

 

Facilitator: I’ve got green cards from numbers 24, 38, and 23. Number 24, you can ask your question.

Attendee no 24: You added a new blog category: A leader ships. Did you ship? A Deployment Plan is just an artifact.

Speaker: I once read something along the line like System must solve the problem. If the deployment is bad, even the best system cannot solve a problem.

 

Facilitator: I’ve got green cards from numbers 38 and 23. Number 38, you can ask your question.

Attendee no 38: What have juggling and testing in common? You are talking about a hobby and job. These are two separate things for me.

Speaker: I have question in return: would you please summarise both stories in 4 words?

Attendee no 38: What about: good planning withstands emergency.

Speaker: So you plan the emergency?

Attendee no 38: I need some What If Scenarios, if things go wrong.

Speaker: So you want to make a scenario for every possible situation like overloaded network, a comet paying a visit, etcetera. There are a lot of scenarios to ponder upon. I suggest: Plan to anticipate emergency. In this case: complete rollback.

[To be continued here.]

In Case Of Emergency Press 1

Speaker: Welcome to my writing “In Case Of Emergency Press 1”. My name is Han Toan Lim. I want to share some stories with you.

Facilitator: There is an opportunity to ask questions using K-cards. More information can be found here.

Speaker: In the weeks after the Dutch Juggling Convention in 1992 a new story circulated in the Dutch juggling community. During the Public Show some people had paid an undesirable visit to the camping site. There were no guards.
“Right after the convention I would be camping. The convention [in Delft] looked like a good rehearsal, then someone made some cuts in my tent.”, a juggler told me with a bit of disappointment.
Another juggler was really upset:
“They took my knife from my tent.”
Somehow this unwanted visit was not anticipated. Over the years the story was shared less and less, but it still stung me.

Now it is time for a flash forward. Several projects were weeks from the deployment. I had pressed for a meeting and finally my project manager had agreed. During the preparation of this meeting I had merged 3 Deployment Plans of the three systems on the same day. I had still doubts about the completeness of this resulting plan. All suppliers and other involved parties of the client were present. I was the chairman.

I began with stating the goal of the meeting: everyone should know, what and when they should do in order to deploy 3 systems on the same day. On the screen I showed a gantt chart made in a spreadsheet program. It was an updated version of the team lead of system administration. The time blocks for the deployments of each system was shown. Other time blocks were for preparation and wrap ups. Then it was time to go one level deeper. On the screen the latest version of the Deployment Plan was shown by me in a spreadsheet. The first activities took me some time to let the attendees make themselves familiar with the structure of the plan.

Facilitator: We’ve got a red card.
Attendee 95: What do you mean with “make themselves familiar” with the Deployment Plan?
Speaker: The Deployment Plan was a big table in a spreadsheet. So the size could distract the reader. So I first explained the heading from left to right. Then I went slowly through the first action. So the attendees could listen or read the information with enough time for reflection. Does this answer your question?
Attendee 95: Yes
Facilitator: I see no more red cards. So you can continue.

Speaker: The following pattern arised. I read the action aloud and made sure, that the person, who was assigned the task, fully understood the task. I questioned or let it questioned in different ways:

  • Do you really understand this action?
  • Are other actions needed?
  • Are the actions planned in the right order?

I preferred, that other participants voiced their thoughts. This was beneficial for the group interaction. It was not my one man show after all.

Let me focus on one particular action, restoring the backup. If the deployment would be stopped, then a rollback of the old systems had to take place. So a backup should be restored. But it takes a while to make a good one. To be more precisely one working day. So people had to be instructed, that the systems could only be used for retrieving information and not for storing new information. Some of these actions had not been planned in.

Because no abstract actions had to be discussed, it was relatively easy to describe the specific actions. If there was agreement about the action, then I immediately updated the deployment plan on the screen. If the description of the action was still ambiguous, then people had the opportunity to clarify it.

Then came the part of the failed deployment. Some attendees were reluctant to talk about it. There might be different reasons: the actual steps for a successful deployment were discussed in depth, so they probably would not be needed. Another guess of mine was, that after 2 hours of meeting people were tired.

Afterwards I got the compliment: “You did well.”

This writing I would like to end with a Lesson Used. So time for a flashback.

In 2002 I went to one of the organisers of the Dutch Juggling Convention in Amsterdam. He told me:
“I’ve got some flowers for you.”
Before I could digest the information, he continued with:
“Right after the Public Show we asked the volunteer coordinators on stage. We called Nienke [and gave her flowers].”
Then I said:
“The other volunteer coordinator is Han Toan Lim. He is not here. He’s watching the camping site.”
He waited a moment.
“They gave you the biggest round of applause.”
At that moment I was just relieved, that no bad things had taken place at the convention’s camping site.

I thank for your attention.

Facilitator: You can ask questions using this form. I have already 4 green cards.

[To be continued here.]

Sound check (and other interesting things in other backyards)

Xoun is a strange brand name to pronounce. The question is, whether this sounds right to shopping people. If you turn the picture upside down, you will read a known brand name in the Netherlands. (Which I associate with a mug with welcome warm soup after hours of sailing on the lakes in Friesland.) By taking a different view some things might need more attention than you might expect. In this article I will tell about three situations, in which non IT related information can be helpful for an IT engineer.

Granting a small favour

In the nineties my customer planned in a special activity to introduce internet to his employees. So I ended up talking with a woman from the legal department. She stated, that shipping information should always be mentioned. It would save her department and company a lot of time and money.

A few weeks later it was time for my courtesy call. I called the lady from the legal department. After a short introduction I came to the point: “I just discovered, that your company is selling products on the internet. I could not find the shipping information.” A silence followed, so I had to repeat the message. A muffled “Thank you” followed. A few days later the web shop was off line.

In case of surprise

A special meeting was planned and the project manager was constantly talking about Rbbit. After a while I figured out, that the Rbbit was not a nice white fluffy animal appearing in the magician’s hat, but a Big Bug in the software system. “Two weeks ago we had a Rbbit. Last week we had a Rbbit. What do you expect for next week?” I answered, that another Big Bug would show up. “What are we going to do?”. I spoke up again: “I would set up an emergency procedure.” The project manager was not pleased with the answer: “Do you expect, that I will restore the complete database?”

“If wrong information is sent to the customers, then a new mail must be sent to them, that they should ignore the information in the sent mail. You could also add information, when the right information will be sent. The next step is to investigate and solve the problem.” The project manager finally agreed: he needed phone numbers of people in the operations department and operational measures.

What’s it in for them?

As a software tester it is very tempting to use different plug ins in your browser to analyse web sites. During one of my trials I encountered a tool, which provided me much information. I did not understand, why the tool was given away for free. The web site for the plug in tool was basically stressing the benefits. At that moment I was doubtful, whether I had installed malware.

After more extensive searches on the web I discovered a related business web site, which offered information about websites. This information was gathered by users using the above mentioned plug in. So the business model was as follows: determine, which information is useful for IT people. Provide a free tool for collecting information and sell the gathered information with a nice profit.