Getting a project ready for support

For some projects, once the primary development phase has wrapped up dxw will continue to offer support (subject to a support contract). Since we rotate support staff, things need to be in place to let them effectively respond to issues.

Make sure the documentation is up to date

Support developers may not have context on the project, and rely on the documentation to effectively solve problems. For most projects:

  • The README file should cover how to download a project, install any dependencies, and start a working development instance (if necessary including seed data). We recommend using the Scripts To Rule Them All pattern to automate this as much as possible.
  • As much documentation as possible should be kept in one place, ideally in the repository alongside the code. Remember to check that documentation doesn’t contain any secrets.
  • There should be a single ‘front line support’ runbook which covers common support tasks (if necessary linking to other documentation) in as much of a step by step process as possible. This may be stand-alone in the repository alongside the code (preferred), or in the operations documentation repository.
    • Add the link to this document to the Project Knowledgebase support runbook field (see below).
  • If there is a specific process for on-boarding developers before they can support the service (eg creating user accounts, elevating permissions) then this should also be kept in a single step by step document.
    • Add a link to this process to the set up person for support checklist template, so that new support developers will follow the process.
    • Make sure that existing support developers know there is a new on-boarding checklist to follow.

Add the project to Project Knowledgebase

Our Project Knowledgebase is the starting point for support agents who are new to a project - it displays key information about the project alongside requests in Zendesk. Each project should have a row in the Projects table which has been completed.

The basic information needed for each project is its name, the client the work is with, the maintenance status (if the project is currently supported or not), and optionally if the project is under a specific support package.

You should also add the account manager and any delivery managers who have particular knowledge about the project. Add any developers who would be suitable for second line escalation of issues. You can either reuse an existing person record (the majority of developers and managers in dxw already have these), or create a new one.

Complete as many other fields as possible. If you need help or aren’t sure what to add, please ask in Slack.

Add the project to the operations documentation

Make sure the client has a document in the operations documentation repository. It should include either documentation or (preferably) links to documentation for any on-boarding steps needed, and the front line support runbook.

Set up monitoring systems

Make sure that enough monitoring systems are in place to raise warnings in case of outages, errors or service degradation (the exact level of monitoring will depend on the project and support contract).

Make sure error reports are raised in Zendesk

If errors are being raised by monitoring they must be delivered to our Zendesk instance so that the support developer can triage and address them.

You should consider if alerts being raised are actionable by whoever is on support; if there is nothing that can be done about it then the alert will only be creating extra noise.