Features in detail
The job of a cutover manager consist primarily of the collection of the individual tasks per team/subproject, in order to create an overall schedule from this. The survey can be carried out centrally by the cutover manager or decentralized, e.g. by the individual team/subproject managers. Experience has shown that this plan will be modified many times during the course of the project. In this planning phase a master plan is created.
General rehearsals are carried out to test/validate the plan. This means that the plan is checked for completeness, sequence of events and duration of the individual tasks and dependencies and the results are convicted to the master plan. For this purpose, an executable live plan is created from the current version of the master plan. The live plan forms the basis for the detailed and accurate control of the tasks and processes in the dress rehearsals and in the end in the final cutover/go-live.
A master plan forms the container for a new plan. Several master plans can be managed and maintained simultaneously in the CutoverManager. For example, in addition to projects, regular release deployments can also be planned completely independently in the CutoverManager.
Each master plan is given an individual name under which it is displayed in the overview. A description of the project can also be entered. Furthermore, each master plan has a virtual start time. This is the planned starting point at which the first activity is to start. Related tasks are usually linked to this.
When generating a live plan from the respective master plan, the time difference between the start time of the master plan and the live plan can also be used to recalculate the fixed dates in the live plan.
Since several projects, intentions, releases etc. can be planned (and also executed) in parallel in the CutoverManager, it provides the function to mark currently not needed plans as "not selectable" for users. These plans are not listed in the overview of available master plans.
Tasks are the core elements of a cutover planning. Each task to be performed during the cutover/go-live must be detailed and (for the person responsible for the task) clearly described.
A DURATION must be defined for each task. A BUFFER can be defined for the first test runs in order to reflect certain planning uncertainties. These buffer times are visible in a separate display and should be reduced to zero from dress rehearsal to dress rehearsal.
The start type of task must also be specified. This can be defined either as a fixed timestamp or as a follow-up task of one or more previous tasks, or as a combination of both options.
By assigning LABELS to a task, groupings can be made according to different dimensions. These could be locations, systems, subject areas, and so on. Labels can be described from individual terms or also as text with a certain hierarchy (e.g. securities - write-offs - team Munich). All labels can be filtered in the master and live plan and grouped according to them in the master or the live cockpit.
As it is well known that tasks do not complete themselves, each task must be assigned to one or more USERS or USER GROUPS. These people are responsible for performing the cutover/go-Live task. During the execution phase, they are requested by mail from the CutoverManager to execute the task.
MILESTONES can also be set in the CutoverManager. These are tasks with the duration of 0 and the selection YES in the field MILESTONE.
When planning, the cutover manager orients normally on some central events/tasks/milestones (e.g. the Point-of-no-Return) in order to be able to estimate their effects on the time axis after maintenance activities. These core events/tasks/milestones can be explicitly displayed in a statistics page. To do this, select YES for these tasks in the MONITOR field.
When a planned task is changed, the previous version is historicized. This makes it possible to track when a task was changed and who carried it out.
When a historically changed task is called, the details of the then current version and the previous version are displayed and the changes are highlighted in color.
Even during the execution phase, every change to a task can be traced precisely.
In the planning phase, the CutoverManager offers various display options to provide an overview of the tasks already captured from different perspectives.
In the task list, the tasks entered so far are listed in the order of their entry (sequential ID). All relevant planning details for the tasks are displayed here.
Tasks can also be copied, synchronized or deleted here. A task must be synchronized if changes are to be made to a live plan while it is being executed. To do this, the changes to the relevant tasks must first be made in the respective master plan. There you can analyze what effects the change has on the plan. If the changes are accepted, the task can be synchronized to the current live plan.
By clicking on the ID of a task, you navigate to the entry/maintenance screen of the respective task.
The master cockpit displays the individual tasks in chronological order, with their times, dependencies (predecessors and successors), grouping characteristics (labels) and the persons responsible for the respective task.
Milestones are written in bold and marked accordingly. They also typically have a duration of 0 minutes. The flag symbol, on the other hand, is the visualization for a monitored task.
Master Gantt Chart
In order to obtain a good overview of the dependency of the individual tasks, they can also be displayed as gantt chart in the planning phase. The time span to be displayed and also the scaling can be adapted to the respective requirements.
The dress rehearsals and the go-live are usually carried out on weekends and also in 24-hour operation. For this reason, the employees responsible for the tasks must be registered with the HR department, the works council and, if necessary, the trade supervisory board. For this purpose, a resource matrix based on hours can be generated in the CutoverManager, which significantly simplifies the creation of notifications.
The resource matrix can be limited to certain time periods. It can also be exported as a csv file for further external processing.
After the first version of a master plan has been created, it is useful for communication with management and to review the plan if the individual main phases of a plan can be shown graphically. This type of presentation allows another review of the previous plan from a higher perspective (top down) and this representation is suitable to show the management the rough flow of the cutover.
Despite the most careful planning and recording of the individual tasks in the CutoverManager, incorrect planning or incorrect maintaining can occur. Especially when importing a plan into the CutoverManager - created in another medium - such a check is necessary.
In common, cutover planning covers not only the cutover weekend but also upstream and downstream days or weeks. In these up- and downstream time periods, the tasks to be performed are usually performed during normal working hours, in contrast to the cutover weekend. Likewise, no tasks may be started on weekends or public holidays that may be in these phases.
To take this into account, rest periods can be defined in the CutoverManager.
After a master plan has been created, it may be necessary to make changes to individual data in the plan throughout the entire plan. For example, an employee may leave the project and another employee is to take over his or her tasks, or tasks may be transferred to other user groups, or a label is generally to be replaced on all tasks concerned.
After calling the function, a mask with different types of bulk updates appears.
Merge master plans
Several master plans can be created in parallel in the CutoverManager. It is also possible to integrate a master plan into another master plan.
As a use case, for example, different subprojects can create their individual master plan and then, after reaching a certain level of maturity, transfer them to a general master plan.
The function is also suitable if certain task chains are created as templates in the form of a separate master plan, such as the exemplary relocation of a server or a database. These templates can then be integrated n times into the general master plan and subsequently adapted.
To be able to execute a master plan, a live plan must be created from it. This is done by a simple mouse click in the overview of the created master plans. Before creating a new live plan, an individual name can be assigned to the plan.
Since live plans are also created for the execution of dress rehearsals, but the execution times of the dress rehearsals are before the time of the cutover/go-live, the start time of the live plan must be specified. If there are fixed start times in the master plan, these can be converted if desired using the difference between the start point of the master plan and the start point of the live plan (adjust fixed start times).
The Live Cockpit is the heart of the CutoverManager for the detailed and accurate control of the cutover and its preceding dress rehearsals.
In the Live Cockpit all tasks are sorted chronologically and their most important information (plan and actual start, end, duration, time differences between plan and actual times, predecessors, successors, labels, responsibilities) are listed. In addition, the current status and the executable action of the individual tasks can be seen here.
Each task that can be initiated on the basis of its start criteria, i.e. that can be started by the responsible user, is represented here with the action INITIATE. All preconditions defined in the CutoverManager for the initiation of the task are fulfilled.
After initiation, all tasks go through a defined status sequence, which can only be bypassed by people with the CUTOVER_MANAGER role. Strict workflow control means that people not involved in planning can also be included in the cutover team to execute the plan.
The tasks provided with an ACTION can be moved to the next status defined in the workflow by a simple click on the respective action (column ACTION). All processes defined for this purpose, such as the creation of a mail to the responsible persons/groups of persons, are carried out automatically in the background. Tasks without ACTION cannot yet be initiated due to previous conditions.
In the Live Cockpit, you can switch from the standard view to various other views. In this way, you can call up a display that lists all actions that can be executed in X minutes. Or you can navigate to an overview with running or overdue tasks.
All views can be filtered by status, start and/or end time, labels, persons in charge and groups in charge.
These various displays enable control center employees to quickly and easily answer questions or filter tasks by a specific status with a mouse click. It has also shown its worth to keep the standard cockpit on one screen and the pending or overdue tasks, for example, in view on another screen.
In general, changes to a running plan should be avoided, but the CutoverManager also allows you to correct the underlying master plan and synchronize the change to the corresponding live plan.
Due to the professional data storage in the CutoverManager, no sorting and no filtering endangers the stability of the plan and the system, as is occasionally the case with the use of other software products in practice.
Live Plan Statistic
The statistics provide a quick overview of:
- how many tasks are in which status
- how the planned time deviates from the actual time (start and end)
- and how the planned/actual progress is displayed on the time axis
Statistics is a useful tool for answering management needs, among other things.
Live Gantt Chart
There is also a Gantt chart view in the live plan. In contrast to the gantt chart in the master plan, the gantt chart in the live plan shows the actual times in addition to the planned times and the status of the individual tasks via different colorings of the tasks.
If you click on a chart bar you will get further information about the respective task.
During the planning and execution phases, there are many different activities that employees carry out with different roles.
The CutoverManager has a role-based user administration. All persons who either use the CutoverManager during the planning or execution phase or who have tasks to perform during the execution of the cutover are listed in the user management of the CutoverManager.
Each person must be assigned at least one role that controls their rights in the CutoverManager.
In the CutoverManager, mandatory information about each person must be stored. These are marked with a star. In addition, further data on a user can be entered. This could, for example, give an alternative way to contact the person (e.g. private mobile phone or email) if they cannot be reached via the professional contact data provided for the cutover.
A language and a time zone must also be defined for each person. This allows the CutoverManager to customize the conversion of all start and end times of a plan and display all graphical views in its preferred language. With the help of the CutoverManager, international projects can be planned and controlled across different time zones without any problems.
With the substitute mode it is possible to replace a responsible user temporarily (e.g. for a dress rehearsal or in case of illness during the live cutover) in the cockpit displays, in the resource matrix and in the user dashboard by his substitute without interfering with the master plan.
In this case, the initiation mail is sent to the deputy. The actual responsible user will be notified as a copy recipient (cc).
For this purpose, the substitute must be stored with the user and activated there. The substitute mode can be activated by the user himself as well as by a person from the control station with the corresponding rights.
User groups can be assigned any number of users. Tasks can thus be assigned not only to individuals, but also to groups of people who are to be contacted by email, for example via a group mailbox.
In order to give the management the opportunity to be informed about the progress of the cutover at any time, a display of the defined milestones is offered. This shows the status, the planned and actual end, the time deviation between planned and actual time, the name of the tasks defined as milestones and the chronological position of the milestone in the overall plan.
In addition, a traffic light display provides management with a quick overview of whether a milestone was reached on time, slightly or with a considerable delay.
In the settings you can define for which delay (in minutes) the traffic light in the management view is to be displayed in yellow and when in red.
If the CutoverManager shows an unexpected behavior in your environment, a user in the role of ADMIN (without having to approach the operation team) can provide us with a server log file for targeted troubleshooting. The length of the history and thus the size of the file can be selected.
In the user dashboard, each user is shown his or her tasks and some statistical information, which enables him or her to estimate the planned/actual progress of the cutover.
Each user can configure the table layouts under the individual CutoverManager functions independently. For each table layout it can be defined which fields (out of a defined set of available fields) should be displayed and in which order they should be arranged within the table.
The initial setup of a plan in CutoverManager can be done via csv uploads.
Users, user groups and tasks can be loaded into CutoverManager via csv files. In the load file for tasks, assigned labels can be defined, which are created in parallel to the tasks in the CutoverManager.
Thus, the basic data of users can be entered in Microsoft Excel and exported to csv. The users defined in this way can be assigned to user groups in Microsoft Excel and also be exported as a csv file. Finally, the core information of tasks can be initially entered in Microsoft Excel, the responsible users and/or user groups can be assigned and this data can also be loaded into the CutoverManager as a csv file. In general, it is then only necessary to link the individual tasks directly in CutoverManager.
In our download section you can download an Excel file for the collection and automated checking and exporting of the data.
The export files can of course also be generated from any other system. Important here is the compliance with the respective specification.
Of course, the mentioned data can also be loaded to an already existing master plan and thus be supplemented.