As IT pros we have all done those long late nights of system upgrades, working through the day and night and over the weekend to have the system fully functional with latest application builds and patches.
I was leading one such upgrades on Enterprise Vault and Discovery Accelerator for a government department. Although a lot of planning and preparation was done to get to the point of implementing the change. One of the items that tripped us was moving the data disks from old servers to new servers. This put us back by a couple of hours. Couple of hours late in the night can make it mentally and physically very challenging especially when you have already put in 6 to 7 hours working through the change.
Why must you allow for a break when implementing a long running change?
It has been well researched and scientifically proven that resting and relaxing helps recuperate the body, increase mental energy, and improves one’s ability to focus. Some of the key benefits are
- Ability to take a step-back and reassess the task on hand
- Identify and improve upon the plan to execute the task
- Think more creatively when getting back to the task
- Reduction in stress and help process the learning and retain the information
- Improved mental state and come back to the task with a clear mind
- Decrease fatigue and sleep disorder thus avoiding cardiovascular diseases
There are a lot of benefits to taking a break, so why shouldn’t you?
I asked this question and came up a with a list of key learnings that could be incorporated into any implementation plan.
The learnings for managing a change are
Identify breakpoints in the task list when it would be safe to leave the application in its current state before breaking away for a rest
- Build buffer time in each task for unexpected errors or issues. 30 minutes buffer for a critical or complex task and 10 to 15 minutes for a routine task is ideal
- Define the duration of breakpoint, taking into consideration
- personal resources wellbeing
- operational state of the application at the break point and its impact on the business
- total length of change management window approved
- Sliding breakpoint, for instance, if an additional hour of continuous work would leave the application in advance/working state but not tire the team
I applied these learnings into the next phase of the project whereby we had clearly specified break points after n number of tasks. The break points were defined when it was logically correct to do so. This planning worked to the last dot and entire team was in high spirits after the change was completed and ready for business as usual on Monday.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to have all your tasks planned to the last minute with enough time allotted for a full recovery of the personnel resource. A rejuvenated mind, body and soul produces far better and productive outcome even when challenged to the edge.