What makes a good ‘run-book’ for a successful technology go-live

Runbooks are a set of standardized written procedures for completing repetitive, predictable or critical tasks, usually relating to information technology processes.

User Acceptance Testing (UAT), or application testing, is the final stage of any software development before go-live. However between UAT and go-live there will be various tasks to do to ensure go-live goes smoothly. This is where a Runbook is critical.


The list below is not exhaustive and every project will be different according to the nature of the project, circumstances and stakeholders.

1. Trainers and documentation is 100 percent ready, with ‘floor walking’ support to address issues quickly
2. All technical resources are on stand-by to address any issues quickly
3. The target system is 100 percent OK with necessary DR and BCP before we commit to it.
4. What is the last day of keying on the old source-system(s) and migration of data to new target-system(s)
5. How to handle any data changes between the migration (maybe Thursday) and go-live (maybe Tuesday)
6. How we reverse out if we incur issues that make it unwise to continue to new target-system(s)
7. Although we will have done full UAT, we still need to do a security, access, data & process check before use of new target-system(s)
8. Think about after go-live activities, including archive of data and removal of access to the old source-system(s)
9. Plan all the communication and coordination for all of this, which may include weekend working for participants.


Often a Runbooks can be a simple spreadsheet of tasks, owners, schedule so the right things are being done in the right order by the right people. For example do back-ups before any critical changes. If you are working on-line there are many project tools like, Trello, SmartSheet that can be used to agree tasks and monitor progress as you move from one step to the next.

For example don’t have all your users trying to test the new target-system(s) before the data-migration is complete and security & access is ready for users to login. Simple precautions like this avoid error, omission and confusion and avoid a loss of goodwill if people are weekend working on over-time, simply waiting unnecessarily because the system won’t be ready for them for another 8 hours!


This is like conducting an orchestra and some practice will be needed! If listening to Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture you want the cannons to go off at the correct time! I always recommended a full ‘dress rehearsal’ of all the steps at 1 or 2 week before as a learning opportunity.

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