An introduction to the MOF Stabilise SMF

Our previous blog articles in this series explain the role of the Microsoft Operations Framework (MOF), service management functions (SMF’s) and introduce ITIL IQ™ which is the first step in implementing MOF within your business. Before you use this SMF, you may want to read the following ITIL IQ™ guidance to learn more about the MOF IT service lifecycle, the MOF Plan Phase and the MOF Deliver Phase:

Blog Article 1: What’s your ITIL IQ™? Meet MOF

Blog Article 2: The MOF Plan Phase

Blog Article 7: The MOF Deliver Phase

Blog Article 8: The MOF Envision SMF

Blog Article 9: The MOF Project Plan SMF

Blog Article 10: The MOF Build SMF

The MOF IT service lifecycle encompasses all the activities and processes involved in managing an IT service: its conception, development, operation, maintenance, and ultimately its retirement. MOF organises these activities and processes into Service Management Functions (SMFs), which are grouped together in phases that mirror the IT service lifecycle. Each SMF is anchored within a lifecycle phase and contains a unique set of goals and outcomes supporting the objectives of that phase. An IT service’s readiness to move from one phase to the next is confirmed by management reviews, which ensure that goals are being achieved in an appropriate fashion and that IT’s goals are aligned with the goals of the organisation.

Each SMF is anchored within a lifecycle phase and contains a unique set of goals and outcomes supporting the objectives of that phase. The SMFs can be used as standalone sets of processes, but it is when SMFs are used together that they are most effective in ensuring service delivery at the desired quality and risk levels.

The Stabilise SMF belongs to the Deliver Phase of the MOF IT service lifecycle. The following figure shows the place of the Stabilise SMF within the Deliver Phase, as well as the location of the Deliver Phase within the IT service lifecycle.



Figure 1. Position of the MOF Stabilise SMF within the IT service lifecycle

Why Use the Stabilise SMF?

This SMF should be useful to anyone who is tasked with ensuring the release of the highest quality IT service solution possible at the Release Readiness Milestone. It includes guidance for how to test a feature complete solution, prepare release candidate versions, deal with feedback, and fix reported issues.

The SMF specifically addresses the following processes for stabilisation:

  • Stabilise a release candidate.
  • Conduct a pilot test.
  • Review the Release Readiness Management Review.
  • Stabilise Service Management Function Overview

Stabilising begins after the Scope Complete Milestone, which finalises developing. The guidance provided by the MOF Stabilise SMF is designed to assist the project team in the following activities:

  • Test the feature complete solution.
  • Prepare release candidate versions of the solution.
  • Deal with feedback.
  • Fix reported bugs.

During testing, the emphasis is on using and operating the solution in realistic environmental conditions. The project team focuses on resolving and triaging (prioritising) bugs and preparing the solution for deployment.

There are many types of testing that can be used at this stage, including the following:

  • Unit/functional testing
  • Integrated testing
  • Operational testing

Test often reports bugs at a faster rate than Development can resolve them. Although there is no way to know how many bugs Test will find or how long it will take Development to fix them, there are statistical signposts known as bug convergence and zero bug bounce that help teams predict when solutions will reach stability. This article describes both signposts.

Once the project team decides that a build is stable enough to be a release candidate, it deploys the solution to a pilot group. Stabilising culminates in the Release Readiness MR. This milestone occurs when all outstanding issues have been addressed and the team has released the solution or deployed it to the production environment.

 Stabilise SMF Role Types

The primary team accountability that applies to the Stabilise SMF is the Solution Accountability. The role types within that accountability and their primary activities within this SMF are displayed in the following table.

Table 1. Solutions Accountability and Its Attendant Role Types

Role Type Responsibilities Role in this SMF
Solution Manager

Accountable role

Owns all SMFs in this accountability

Acts as project director for all projects

Resolves conflicts between projects

Ongoing oversight
Program Manager Drives design, schedule, and resources at the project level

Sets design goals

Describes the solution concept

Creates the project structure

Documents requirements to test against

Developer Builds the agreed-to solution

Creates solution

Fixes bugs

Tester Tests to accurately determine the status of solution development

Tests strategies

Tests acceptance criteria

Tests solution

Documents project implications

Product Manager

Acts as the customer advocate

Helps drive shared project vision

Manages customer expectations

Participates in overall testing

Brings organization’s needs to testing process

User Experience

Acts as the user advocate on project teams

Helps define user requirements

Helps design to meet user requirements

Documents user performance requirements

Documents project test implications

Participates in bug triage

Release Management

Evaluates the solution design

Documents operations requirements to ensure they’re met by the design

Creates a pilot, deployment plan, and schedule

Manages site deployment

Documents deployment implications

Documents operations management and supportability

Documents operations acceptance criteria

Prepares for release

Operations Experience

Advocates for operations on the project team

Brings in operations experts as needed for detailed information

Coordinates with release management

Documents operations performance requirements

Participates in bug triage

Prepares for release

Test Manager

Owns all testing across all project teams

Develops testing strategy and plans

Ensures that best practice test methods are used

Ongoing oversight
Goals of Stabilising

The goal of stabilising is to release the highest quality solution possible at the Release Readiness Milestone. The project team achieves this goal by identifying bugs and issues through thorough testing and release candidate piloting. Then, the team triages and resolves all known bugs. Resolving a bug doesn’t necessarily mean fixing it, it can be deferred to a later version or declared not serious enough to fix.

The goals of stabilising include:

  • Testing the feature complete solution.
  • Deploying one or more release candidates to a pilot group.
  • Addressing the pilot test feedback and bugs.

Table 2 shows the desired outcomes of the MOF Stabilise SMF goals and lists measures you can use to gauge how successfully you have achieved these goals after completing this SMF.

Table 2. Outcomes and Measures of the MOF Stabilise SMF Goals

Outcomes Measures
A high quality, stable solution

Bug convergence and zero bug bounce achieved

No unresolved bugs in the issue-tracking database

All issues found by testing and through pilot feedback are resolved

The number of unresolved bugs in the issue tracking database

Signoff on the Release Readiness Milestone

A high quality solution that meets the customer’s expectations and specifications as defined in the functional specification Signoff on the Release Readiness Milestone
Key Terms

The following table contains definitions of key terms found in this SMF.

Table 3. Key Terms

Term Definition
Bug convergence The point at which the number of bugs fixed exceeds the number of bugs reported. Bug convergence is the first indication that the solution is becoming stable.
Functional testing Testing a completed solution against the functional specification.
Integration testing Testing individual, united tested components integrated with other components.
Pilot test Testing conducted by a subset of users in a production environment. The pilot group uses the solution, providing feedback and reporting any bugs the group finds.
Triage The process of prioritising and rationalising bugs and issues with the solution. Priorities assigned to the bugs indicate how critical it is to fix them. Rationalising is the process of determining the severity of the bug and whether the bug must be fixed for the current release.
Unit testing Testing individual solution components.
Zero bug bounce The point at which development has no open bugs to fix. Although it is highly likely that test will report additional bugs in the future, zero bug bounce is the first indication that stabilising is nearing an end.

This SMF has addressed how to ensure release of the highest quality IT service solution possible at the Release Readiness Milestone. It includes guidance for how to test a feature complete solution, prepare release candidate versions, deal with feedback, and fix reported issues.

Succeeding at that requires a clear understanding of the following processes for stabilisation:

  • Stabilise a release candidate
  • Conduct a pilot test.
  • Review the Release Readiness Milestone.
How do we implement MOF?

At First Solution, we’re experts in MOF and have even developed a unique ITIL IQ™ process that benchmarks a business’s current state, identifies their desired state and provides an action plan (called a Service Delivery Plan) that helps organisations of all sizes achieve their desired business outcomes. Most importantly, our unique ITIL IQ™ process begins with a Proactive Services Maturity Review (PSMR) which identifies a score (out of 100) that clearly communicates the current state of your businesses IT operational maturity. Armed with your ITIL IQ™ score, a finance or procurement professional can concisely present to the board the businesses current state, desired state, and ITIL IQ™ score with an action plan to improve the ITIL IQ™ score and thereby ensure that IT’s goals are aligned with the goals of the business and that both are progressing together.

How can I build stable IT services?

Simply get in touch to arrange a free Proactive Services Maturity Review and one of our MOF experts will conduct an interview with the person responsible for the IT function within your business and provide an ITIL IQ™ score with which you can measure the performance of your IT function. Once you know your ITIL IQ score we can provide a Service Delivery Plan to help you improve it each month and measure and report progress back to you during a Monthly Service Review. And there we have it, an ITIL based solution to simply identify and measure the performance of your IT function. So, are you ready to build stable IT services?


The Microsoft Operations Framework 4.0 is provided with permission from Microsoft Corporation. 

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