Any online service is only as good as its continued support. Out of date content, 404 pages where links are no longer valid, features with bugs or just the general feeling of lack of attention, will mean a user who once visited or used your service won’t come back. A decline in traffic is a clear sign that decisions need to be made on whether you invest to make improvements to try and attract them back or whether the service offered is still viable and may need to be decommissioned.
To avoid any knee-jerk reactions down the line you should be planning from the beginning on how you intend to continually support your service. There are many aspects for you to consider after recognising what you want to deliver as a company, based on what your users’ needs are.
These aspects include continued support for:
- Content and asset updates
- Feature assessments and improvements
- General maintenance of service
- Metrics of traffic, accessibility and usability
- Understanding of overall service lifespan
Importance of a business owner
You’ll also need to have a clear chain of decision making, not just while building your service but also to continue feeding back what the priorities are, once the service is live. Choosing a business or product owner for your service needs the support and trust from the leadership team as they will be the voice of the business for any decisions made. The business owner must also be easily accessible to the team or teams who will be designing, building and maintaining your service.
A clear roadmap for the perceived lifespan of your service should then be reassessed regularly, driven by the feedback gathered from ongoing metrics and users. This will help guide you when priorities and other decisions need to be made.
Culture and structure decisions
Another crucial area of consideration is the culture, structure and processes put in place by the business that will best suit the delivery and support of your planned service. For example, agile and DevOps principles over traditional waterfall delivery will allow you to plan an iterative approach with all specialists. Working together in parallel towards a prioritised set of requirements can then be built up in further iterations when you have the metrics to support what the next priorities should be. Using these approaches can also give you the structure required for continued maintenance and ownership of the service.
Questions to be asked as part of your business plan
As part of your business plan to build any new service it’s imperative the ongoing costs and support of said service is addressed. What are the objectives and targets you wish to achieve? What structure and processes will be put in place to support these objectives? How will the budget be allocated to not only build but continue ongoing improvements? Who will be responsible for making the business priorities and decisions throughout the build and once live?
Bring specialists on board as early as possible
Reach out to your specialists who will be implementing and delivering your service at the very early stages of planning. Use their knowledge and skills to help make the decisions that will be the foundation for your entire lifecycle. Giving the people who will be delivering and maintaining your service accountability and ownership from the planning stage, will increase your likelihood of success. They will be able to highlight issues that need considering that the leadership team would never be aware of, as well as having a deep understanding of your users.