Authors: Elena Milusheva, PMP and Loïc Hascher, PMP, ACP
How to plan for "The beginning of the end"
If you think that the Manhattan skyline is there to stay, you might not know that the design of a new skyscraper includes already the plan of its dismantling. The same should go for a system, although it rarely does. Ask those who try to read data archived 20 years ago in the then formats. System decommissioning is much more than unplugging and scrapping it. In fact, it requires as much solid planning, technical understanding and program management approach as the implementation project itself. Yet, the decommissioning projects rarely receive much Management attention.
"Unfairly so," underscores James Greene - previous PMI Swiss chapter president and experienced project manager, who shared with us on 18 October in Basel the complexity of decommissioning projects. But the first question was the obvious: why should we decommission systems at all? Or isn’t that just a simple press on the “erase” button?
Actually decommissioning projects are much more complex than that. James compared them with surgery. It really consists of taking something out of the organization and then letting the organization heal from the removal. And there are multiple reasons why you should undertake such a project, whether it is decommissioning an IT system, a merger with a new company, offshoring, etc...
By sharing his experience on the subject, James insisted that the analysis is the key phase. You need to understand the scope of what needs to be done as well as the requirements. Does my system have any interface with others? What is the data as an input and output of the system? What is the impacted infrastructure? And of course, as we all know, who are my stakeholders?
Once this analysis is done, you have to document all of this in the system retirement plan, and while executing it, ensure that all dependencies are converging towards to same goal: being able to retire the system without impacting the daily business!
As a conclusion, most of us are involved with implementation projects, and only a very few with system decommissioning. But after this insightful presentation, we all realized that they can be fun too!