A major financial institution has revealed that it has begun implementation of its new online and mobile banking platform. It has begun rolling out the platform to its own staff and will gradually release it to its customers over the course of 2014. This financial institution has chosen to conduct a soft-launch of its new platform – this is what your organisation should be doing too.

 

Figure above: A major financial institution is conducting a soft-launch of its new online and mobile banking platform – an approach worth noting.

A soft-launch is the release of a system to a limited audience for beta testing prior to a hard launch where the system will be available to the full audience it was intended for. Why would an organisation stagger the release of a new system instead of a wide-scale release? Kareem Tawansi, CEO of software development provider, Solentive Software explains, “No matter how thorough your planning, you just never know how well the system will be accepted or if the launch will go smoothly. By limiting the rollout to certain people you trust such as your own employees, you can iron out the issues that were not apparent before the system was released into production.”

By taking this approach, organisations will benefit from:

  • The ability to collate data on system usage and user acceptance;
  • Gain an indication of how well the system will be adopted;
  • Fix any issues or defects within the system that were not identified during testing;
  • Add additional features to improve the system based on user feedback; and
  • Tweak the user interface based on user feedback.

As the system is only released to a limited audience, any identified issues can be rectified within a timely and cost-effective manner. This approach prevents the wider target audience from encountering any bugs or issues when using the system, and possibly negative media attention.

“When rolling out any system, whether for internal or external use, I would recommend to always take the soft-launch approach if given the option, as this minimises risk,” advised Tawansi.

“This approach is best used in systems where there is no reliance on users to utilise the same system version. For example, when a user uses a banking system, they only send and receive information to their financial organisation. There is no requirement for the user to have exactly the same functions as another user. However, for systems where this is a requirement, a soft-launch approach would be less appropriate as the system would need to be deployed with the same functionality and data fields to all users, at the same time.

“Otherwise, it is best to take the soft-launch approach whenever possible,” concluded Tawansi.