Every year IBM takes a proactive approach to reach out to clients in preparation of peak days. The Holiday Readiness program helps drive client success through enhanced IBM collaboration, partnered with proactive risk mitigation for clients. We've been preparing since early June to ensure best chance of success for our clients during the peak retail season - typically Black Friday / Cyber Monday for US customers, or late December / early January for worldwide. The program has grown in scope over the years, both in terms of products as well as team participation. Now covering WebSphere Commerce, Sterling Order Management and Warehouse Management, Digital Analytics, Tealeaf, Omni-Channel Marketing, and Xtify.
External client preparation:
Holiday Readiness is about the client preparing themselves, partnering with IBM to ensure success. IBM Support has provided a wealth of knowledge thru e-support, on the Client Success Essentials community. In the WebSphere Commerce section, we've just overhauled our content last week, with a new series of blog posts around Holiday Readiness as a whole, but also low-level technical best practices and lessons learned, specifically around peak-relevant topics such as:
The community also provides the information to share with your IBM Client Account Team about your upcoming peak preparedness activities, so they can take that back internally at IBM to ensure everyone is prepared. This information can be shared with IBM Support to help understand your environments, challenges, and risks better, which in turn would improve the timeliness and effectiveness of our response.
As a Support organization, we have learned from Black Friday's past, on where clients succeed, and where they fail. For example, quick diagnosis and recovery is critical when dealing with a production system outage. Lack of data or context can hinder ability to troubleshoot a problem altogether, whether it be by the client, partner, or IBM Support. This can also be costly if you need to wait for subsequent outages. It is imperative to have a playbook in advance for any production issue, but specifically on peak traffic days. To help with such, we have provided best practices for troubeshooting during the peak season, from data collection, monitoring, notifications, to regular maintenance. One of the more interesting blogs posted this season is Where is your WebSphere Commerce black box? , addressing the fact that we routinely see clients not prepared with the right diagnostic information for IBM to use to troubleshoot after an outage - meaning the need to wait for a subsequent outage just to capture data.
We have also learned from recent peak days that being on old maintenance levels hurts our ability to troubleshoot, mitigate, or provide fixes or enhancements. For example, inventory contention, caching, have been improved greatly improved on recent FP/FEPs. You do not want to lose money in revenue or investment to diagnose and resolve already known issues. Ensuring you leverage the Recommended fixes and settings for WebSphere Commerce Version 7 is a good way to stay ahead of the game and avoid costly rediscovery or troubleshooting time.
If problems do occur, it is important to ensure we have the right tools and processes in place to quickly debug and resolve the problems so as to minimize potential business impact. You should ensure you have the necessary processes in place to capture critical diagnostic data should problems arise to help IBM support come to a speedy resolution. We've created a series of MustGather documents to help with exactly this challenge.
Internal IBM preparation:
Internally, Holiday Readiness is all about communication. The program is successful as we have Support, Services, Sales, Client Success and Accelerated Value Program all communicating on the same page, sharing insights, environments, activities and challenges from their clients, allowing IBM to react quickly with the right people, if issues do arise. We track internally a list of clients deemed 'at risk', to help coordinate our efforts. This can mean a number of things, whether it be: the site is new and not been thru a peak season yet, large integrations with many components from IBM software, general lack of preparation and testing for holiday, among many other reasons. While you will still follow the regular PMR process with IBM throughout the peak season, we are acting on your behalf internally to ensure timely and effective reply, leveraging all groups within IBM who have a relationship with you, to build a broader and more robust understanding of your needs and pain points.
We will be doing a Holiday Readiness webcast on September 11th (details here) , highlighting best practices, lessons learned, escalation advice, and much more. I strongly encourage you to catch it live to participate in the Q&A at the end of the session, or look for the replay to understand all the advice that IBM Support is providing our clients as holiday peak approaches.