ICEFLO: SatNav for Technology Cutovers
by Andy Smith, on 03/06/18 09:17
I had a conversation recently with a very experienced Business leader, trying to explain in plain language what ICEFLO is and how to articulate the business benefits.
After a few minutes, he summarised the solution perfectly ... "So, it's a bit like SatNav for technology cutovers".
This concise and insightful conclusion prompted me to write this blog, comparing ICEFLO to modern SatNav systems by looking at the essential characteristics shared by both solutions.
Developments in technology has transformed the way that people all over the world think about travel and planning a trip. SatNav solutions emerged from vendors such as Garmin, TomTom and others and killed off the use of large printed maps. In recent years, the ubiquity of smart phones means that Google Maps is the dominant travel planning solution these days.
The car driver is shielded from the complexity of the underlying computations ... who would know or care that Dijkstra's mathematical model is working away continuously in the background.
The end result of this innovation is clear - very few people still use the AA Roadmap to plan a journey.
For many of us, embarking on a long and important journey without our trusted SatNav solution would be unthinkable. Of course, some journeys can be taken at your leisure, when time isn't an issue and delays don't represent a big problem.
Other journeys are different.
Family weddings, catching a long-haul holiday flight; the business meeting to land a huge deal. You know the trips that really matter. Imagine if the option to leave whenever you wanted wasn't available. You are forced to wait until the last minute. A wedding guest and fellow traveller arriving from overseas.
These scenarios reflect occasions where SatNav provides the most value to you - when the travel time is limited and the pain of being late is much more than a mere nuisance or even discomfort.
In this Blog, I'd like to plant the seed in your mind that the same should be true for your upcoming technology cutovers.
If you are about to perform a complex technology cutover, why would you consider using the equivalent of the AA Roadmap - your tried & trusted runbook spreadsheets. We've all got a little lost and unfortunately arrived late with this approach!
SatNav systems focus primarily on predicting the forecast arrival time at your chosen destination. This singular metric is what interests the traveller most.
Deriving this simple metric is a complex, clever calculation that requires a huge amount of processing of both static and dynamic information. SatNav systems perform this task brilliantly, masking the complexity of what's going on behind the scenes and delivering a valuable and trusted "user experience".
Let's take a look at what's going on under the covers and compare each area to what ICEFLO does during technology cutovers.
As every seasoned traveller knows, a good journey requires a good plan. The beauty of SatNav systems is that they come loaded with "static data" covering maps and routes to help the modern traveller:
- The geographical data that underpins the entire navigation exercise
- The physical distance between the departure point and destination, based on GPS data
- Multiple route options, such as avoiding motorways, toll-roads and other fixed factors
- The type of road network, including legal speed limits on different sections
Unfortunately, and unlike SatNav systems, technology cutovers don't start with a whole lot of static data. Every departure point is unique and every destination represents newly discovered territory. Examples might include:
The ability to build a comprehensive and complex cutover plan is a key requirement. The bad news is that there are no maps, no GPS, no existing road network and no signposts.
The good news is that ICEFLO provides the solution that enables sophisticated cutover plans to be built and tested prior to the actual journey.
- The way the plan is structured in stages, similar to segments of any road journey
- Details of the individual tasks that must be performed, underpinning the entire exercise
- The forecast duration of each task, including a record of actual results from rehearsals
- The dependencies between stages and individual tasks
- Multiple execution paths, delivering the critical path of the overall plan
With SatNav systems, there are several key metrics calculated, which are totally familiar to the driver. These are obvious metrics such as the following:
- Total distance to the destination e.g. 167 miles
- Average speed e.g. 42 mph
- Actual departure time e.g. 11:27
- Forecast arrival time e.g. 15:45
SatNav systems work on both static and dynamic data to achieve these clear and simple metrics. Crucially, SatNav systems hide the complexity of the data and calculations that are required to deliver these familiar results. This lets the driver focus on driving rather than navigating and re-calibrating the arrival time.
Technology cutovers have their own key metrics, familiar to everyone who's been involved in cutovers over the years. ICEFLO constantly derives the following metrics:
- Forecast End Time e.g. 23:10
- Forecast End Time of Backout (if invoked "now") e.g. 20:13
- Forecast End Time of Backout (if invoked "worst case") e.g. 04:30
- Service Impact Proximity: How much time do we have to get this system back into service? e.g. 6hrs 32mins
ICEFLO works on both static and dynamic data to achieve these clear and simple metrics. Just like SatNav systems, ICEFLO hides the complexity of the data and calculations that are required to deliver these familiar results. This lets the Deployment Manager focus on managing the myriad of people, tasks and issues that ultimately result in a successful cutover.
Route planning and key metrics tell only part of the story. The real power of both SatNav systems and ICEFLO stems from their shared ability to layer dynamic data on top of the Route Planning aspects, bringing life to the key metrics as the journey unfolds. Let's examine the nature of the dynamic data that delivers the power of these solutions.
- Weather and its effect on road conditions
- The typical speed on each segment of the journey, built up by actual data from thousands of previous journeys
- Current traffic volumes and their impact on average speed on a given road segment
- Roadworks and even road closures (red and amber road networks)
- Accidents and other temporary issues (alerts and auto-rerouting)
- Delays in starting tasks
- Delays in completing tasks
- A constantly evolving critical path, responding to delays as they occur
- Issues that emerge during tasks and the estimated or actual time to resolve them
- Availability of people to perform tasks - or otherwise
- External events that impede or constrain progress
Informed Decision Making
Very few long journeys follow exactly the path that was identified at the outset. The dynamic data that is processed during the journey will inform the driver and enable informed decisions to be made:
- Nudge up your speed to recover lost time (within the legal limits of course!)
- Change in directions to take a different road network
- Decide to take a toll road to catch up on lost time - when cost matters less than time
- The confidence to take a break knowing that you have time to do so
Complex technology cutovers rarely go exactly to plan. The dynamic data that is processed during the cutover event will inform everyone involved and enable informed decisions to be made:
- Re-schedule key people to reflect changes in the schedule
- Secure additional manpower to perform unforeseen tasks
- Focus management attention and limited manpower on issues that threaten to delay the entire cutover
- Keep a vigilant eye on constantly evolving backout timelines
- Provide senior management with accurate and timely information to inform the "big decisions"
- Articulate and communicate risks to the service as they emerge
- Provide a degree of comfort to senior executives that everything is progressing well and that services are "safe"
The Joy of Arriving
Accurately predicting your arrival time allows you to make decisions and revise any arrangements, delivering benefits to more than just the driver.
- Re-schedule a flight if you're running late
- Notify family and friends of your ETA and alleviate any worrying on their part
- Contact your hotel and organise a late check-in
- Book a restaurant table so that you can eat and relax upon arrival
Technology cutovers are in this regard a lot like like family weddings. You simply can't be late or there's going to be a lot of pain. The business impact of a "late arrival" in a technology cutover situation can be very serious indeed, including any or all of these:
- Customer impact
- Financial impact
- Operational impact
- Reputational impact
- Regulatory impact
- Safety impact
Take a look at ICEFLO, a modern cutover planning platform to help you successfully navigate through your complex technology cutovers.
Don't lose your bearings and you might even enjoy the journey!