After months or even years of hard work, release day is finally here! While somewhat scary, you can’t deny the excitement deployment brings. However, for your hardworking team members, software deployment day is the first time they’ll deal with great feedback or terrible user complaints.
Trying to alleviate deployment headaches is a challenge, but a software deployment checklist can help you deal with tension. With a software deployment checklist template, you can relax (a bit), secure in knowing your team has completed all the needed steps to make deployment as smooth as possible.
In this article, you’ll see how Coda’s software deployment checklist template can help prepare you for different scenarios and reduce the number of deployment errors. We’ll also consider:
What is software deployment?
The three main stages of software deployment
Why a software deployment checklist matters
The best practices for successful software deployment
Software deployment checklist FAQs
What is software deployment?
Software deployment is when updates, patches, applications, and software are delivered to consumers.
Sometimes called web deployment, deployment also refers to installing, testing, running, updating, and adjusting your software.
While public deployment, i.e., presenting the software to the general users, is the most common type of software deployment, it’s also possible to deploy your software at different stages of the development cycle to ensure that it’s error-free.
A software deployment checklist ensures that the software release process goes as smoothly as possible. With such a checklist, you can avoid a whack-a-mole situation where you desperately scramble to fix errors in your software after deployment.
Three main stages of software deployment
A seamless software deployment process is essential to the smooth running of your organization. That’s why you need all the help you need when deploying software.
Whether you’re handling software deployment manually or automatically, there are three primary stages your process must pass through. These are:
Let’s take a closer look at each stage.
Stage 1 - Preparation
In preparation, your team identifies, collects, and defines your customers' problems, wants, and expectations regarding your software or service.
The preparation phase requires plenty of legwork, making your work easier when done correctly. Some of the activities you’ll engage in during this phase might include:
Creating software specifications
Creating a plan
Additionally, since we’re discussing software deployment, preparation will most certainly involve software design, where the team determines the architecture and make of the software. Creating design documents, frameworks, runtimes, and coding guidelines allow the team to meet the software specifications and goals without having many issues pop up.
After defining what’s to be done, the team now builds the software based on the guidelines and goals earlier defined. Software development ends once the teams have packaged and created the complete code.
. This stage reveals whether the software passes the requirements for performance.
Stage 3 - Deployment
This final stage is where the software is distributed to consumers and users. It involves running the product on a server or device. It can also refer to when users install your application to their device.
So, with these stages in mind, you might wonder, ‘why do I need a software deployment checklist?’
Let’s see why it’s a must-have for any software development team.
Why do you need a software deployment checklist?
Here are some significant reasons why a software deployment checklist is essential.
Protects the current build
Having a deployment checklist reduces the risk of messing things up during deployment. For example, if you’re releasing an update to an existing product, a checklist ensures you don’t create problems in the current build.
Keeps the entire team focused on KPIs
Software deployment can be challenging, but nothing sets your team up for success like a checklist template. This checklist template reminds you and the team of essential tasks to complete and ensures everyone has an eye on KPIs.
A good software deployment checklist will contain the KPIs that indicate whether the process is running well. When these are met, the team is reassured it’s on the right track and vice-versa.
Prepares the team for rollback scenarios
Even the best-laid plans can go awry, and without the safety net of a deployment checklist, your team can be in serious trouble if rollback scenarios arise.
A good checklist includes a rollback system as a critical part of deployment planning. If things get broken during or after deployment, the rollback plan included in the checklist will make it easy to restore a previous working state.
Allows for flexibility at launch
Now more than ever, software deployment needs to be flexible enough to deal with any issues during and after deployment. With a software deployment checklist, you’ll be prepared for different scenarios and react appropriately without wasting valuable time.
Reinforces a repeatable deployment process
Since there’s already a checklist, it’s easier to deploy in the future. In addition, a thoroughly documented checklist can serve as a guide or reference for future team members or projects. It also reduces how much team members have to rely on someone else’s knowledge during deployment.
is an excellent inspiration. As part of its checks, it lists out the current lists of licenses and invoices.
Set up the testing environment
Before rolling out the new product to users, it’s critical to test it. A testing environment, therefore, needs to be created.
Clarify your deployment process with the team
Communication with the team is sometimes overlooked in the deployment process. However, ensure you clarify the deployment process with the team to have everyone on the same page.
Have a rollback plan in place
Regardless of how you’re deploying the software, your checklist should have a rollback plan in place. This plan is invoked when critical problems arise.
For instance, you can use a rollback plan to redirect users to your tool's previous working build or version. It’ll also involve capturing a complete copy of the operational software version and its dependencies.
Identify performance metrics
You need performance metrics to measure your deployment’s effectiveness. These might include CPU and memory usage, query response times, and other simple metrics. You can also create custom KPIs to measure the effectiveness of your software and deployment, like queue depth, response times for particular tasks, and so on, depending on your software.
Make sure your systems are working by running several tests. Here are some things your checklist should cover:
Individual developers write unit tests
A unit test tests a small portion of the software and verifies its behavior independently from other portions.
Here’s the process a typical unit test follows.
A developer first initializes a small portion of the application they want to test. Next, the developer calls a method on the test portion and observes its behavior.
If the result is consistent with requirements, then the unit test passes. On the other hand, if it gives an inconsistent result, it means there’s a problem somewhere that needs correction.
Run all unit tests as part of Continuous Integration
Continuous Integration (CI) has become a preferred development practice in many great teams. Here, the developers integrate unit tests into a shared repository, and an automated build and tests verify each integration.
The advantage here is that although CI doesn’t remove bugs, it makes it easier to find and remove them.
from Coda is geared toward helping teams launch bug-free products.
Deploy tests in a staging environment
The staging environment is an exact reproduction of a production environment, and it’s used to test code, updates, and similar products to ensure it’s working correctly before deployment.
So, ensure this part of the checklist is marked complete before moving on to deployment.
Run end-to-end tests to look for regression
Next, test the application’s workflow from start to end. End-to-end testing goes through all the operations the software can perform to test how it works with other applications like hardware and network connectivity.
To complete this task, follow the following steps:
Have a clear definition of how the software is supposed to work in every operation
Set up the test environment
Analyze any hardware and/software requirements
Clearly define how each system should respond
List the testing methods needed to test the responses
Run the tests, study the results, and document the outcome
Quality assurance & internal user approval
This is the final phase of the software testing process. Here, real software users test the software. Their opinions will reveal whether the software is ready to work in the real world.
This is the last stage of the deployment process. Here are the things your checklist must cover.
Push the update to the production environment
The production environment is where your product is pushed live to the users. Here, the user can interact with your software.
Monitor product performance
This is where your KPIs come in very handy. First, monitor your product performance to determine whether it’s time to pop the champagne or recall the product. Some of what you might monitor include: page load times, HTTP errors, and database performance.
Monitor environment health
The software environment might include the OS, the database system, compiler, and other systems that support the application. So here, use monitoring tools to keep an eye on these for any potential issues.
Run smoke tests to ensure reliability in production
Smoke testing, or testing in production, can be risky. However, when you’ve done your homework correctly in the testing stage, it can help ensure the core functionality of the software’s running smoothly.
Keep track of logs
Logs show how your software runs on each infrastructure component and usually contain vital information about errors. By keeping track of logs, you can identify attacks on your system.
Document release versioning and release notes
Keep copies of new versions created when changes are made to the product.
Six best practices for a successful software deployment
Here are six practices to follow if you want to successfully deploy your software.
1. Improve collaboration
Teamwork makes the dream work, and this is true for software deployment. The deployment will go smoother when there is a good collaboration between all teams. DevOps will help you improve collaboration between software development and IT teams in charge of deployment.
2. Automate as much as possible
Manual deployment, it pains us to admit, is a recipe for disaster. But on the other hand, automating as many steps as possible will vastly reduce the chances of error.
Furthermore, automating the process as much as possible saves you so much time, and you don’t have to worry about missing any steps on your checklist.
There are so many automation tools that have improved the application deployment process. For example, a CI tool like Codeship allows you to write a deployment script and integrate it with a code repository. You also have tools to test any new code before moving it to deployment automatically.
Before you choose any software tool, ensure you read this article on how to
Build and package your deployment package once and deploy it everywhere. Unfortunately, building a codebase every time you deploy to different environments opens vulnerabilities to your software.
4. Stick to the same deployment method for consistency
Your deployment method should be consistent regardless of the environment. If you use different deployment methods, it’s likely your software works in one environment but crashes in another because of disparity in configuration and setup.
You’ll only add unnecessary complexity if you customize the deployment method for each environment.
5. Deploy only small chunks of code to minimize changes
Deploying small chunks of code instead of large-scale code changes reduces risks and increases the speed of delivery and feedback.
Furthermore, waiting until you have a big chunk of code will create more features and increase testing and release time.
6. Make room for a post-mortem in the event of incidences
No matter your deployment method, ensure you have a contingency plan in case of incidences. A restoration plan should be ready to go when monitoring tools reveal problems. To be on top of things, we recommend keeping an eye on :
Key performance indicators
Customer satisfaction metrics
Use a continuous deployment process
Continuous deployment refers to deploying new software updates when your developers make changes.
Using this continuous delivery process will make your rollouts faster and easier to roll back.
Software Deployment ChecklistFAQs
What is deployment in the software development process?
Deployment is the delivery of updates, patches, and applications to the end-users of the software. It’s an essential stage of the product lifecycle and is how users get their hands on your software.
Who is responsible for software deployment?
The project manager is responsible for creating a software deployment plan. The project manager then presents this plan to the project team and valuable stakeholders, who then work on providing the deliverables.
What are common software deployment frameworks and strategies?
Common software deployment frameworks and strategies include:
Coda is an all-in-one doc for your team’s unique processes — the rituals that help you succeed. Teams that use Coda get rid of hundreds of documents, spreadsheets, and even bespoke apps, to work quickly and clearly in one place. This template is a Coda doc. Click around to explore.