Upgrading with PMP Style: Make A Plan!

Windows 7 goes on sale to the public as of Thursday, Oct 22. We need some business analysis and a plan!

The preliminary Windows® 7 (Win7) RC (Release Candidate) versions have been around for several months. Assuming you are going to upgrade at some point, maybe even soon, you probably need a plan. You might even have a standard IT Upgrade Project Management Plan template. If not, don’t despair; there are probably a few offerings on the web if you have no prior experience or historical data (now you know why we like ‘Lessons Learned’).

First, let us understand the issues an upgrade presents. The operating system controls access to all peripheral hardware. New operating systems may not like old hardware. I still have a printer that uses a parallel port. Imagine my surprise when I realized laptops no longer support parallel ports. My 10-year-old USB scanner does not work on Vista or Win7. Hmmmm… not a good start.

Are you aware of the general malaise about change? Most people do not want to change from the status quo. This is especially true of the worker-bee population. If it works, why are we changing it?

With Win7 being a new operating system, and probably representing a slightly different desktop, you will want to prepare all stakeholders, users and support staff. You will need a test lab to figure out which equipment will or will not work and how to get around the problems.

You will need to develop some Microsoft training for your help desk support and for the users. There are probably lots of outside suppliers for user training (Check our website!).

If you already have Vista, the upgrade path is just that, an upgrade in place.
If you got XP, well, sorry, you have to backup all your local data, reformat, install and put your data back…and then install any business applications.

Worst case scenario regarding this upgrade: it probably affects EVERY user in your company and many of your clients. This upgrade may not affect the servers but it affects the user population. They all need to ‘change.’

This is a typical IT project; it affects everyone, everywhere! The smart IT support groups will have a plan (even if that plan is to wait and see)!

If you did have to plan for this upgrade, in general, you are probably looking

  • Develop an upgrade strategy to Win7 (which computers, schedule of events, resources needed)
  • Build the business case for investing and deploying Win7 throughout your organization
  • Communicate with all stakeholders interested/required in the planning, pre-testing and implementation
  • Manage the Win7 upgrade (trial install, tweak process if needed, full or staged deployment)
  • Have training available in advance and support services ready and able when deployment happens

Here is a shortened list of some templates to get your plan started more quickly, offered from web-based support companies for a fee:

  • Business Case (Need, Benefit, Strategy, Implementation, Vision Statement)
  • Architectural Principles for Deployment (if significantly different from current)
  • Project Organization (scope, schedule, cost schedule, quality control)
  • Upgrade Project Planning (WBS)
  • Testing Plan and Quality Assurance
  • Risk Matrix
  • Change Management Control
  • Communications Plan (status, issue and Highlight Reports)

Some system upgrades are absolutely necessary… security patches… some are not.

Technically, you can get a free Win7 license swap for Windows Vista®…but only if you bought a PC after June 25th of this year, and it had Vista installed! Otherwise, you have to pay the upgrade fee — about half the cost of buying new. The retail price is between $200 and $330, depending on whether it is  the Basic, Home or Full-Edition offerings.

The important question…is this upgrade needed? Not if you are happy with your current desktops, and all your mission-critical applications are working fine.

Remember, this upgrade to Win7 also requires relatively new and powerful hardware. If you are unhappy with your current desktops, for whatever reason, and your equipment is all relatively new, then there will be merit in moving away from VISTA (those nagging admin popups, sluggish
behaviour) and maybe XP (10 years old!!). You should be able to get a trial copy and take Win7 for a spin before deciding.

No surprises. I prefer that!

From David Egan

Windows and Windows Vista  are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.

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