What to Do if a Release Goes Seriously Wrong

You've released a product, it's uploaded all over the world, and all of a sudden you find out that there's a serious problem that either stops the program from working or can corrupt data. What do you do? Panic isn't an option. Simply keep a cool head and work through your release schedule. First you have to quantify the problem and work out very quickly whether it is a problem you can easily work around, a problem that will take time to fix, or if the situation is irrevocable.


Check the workaround works—it might be as simple as altering a setting or doing something in a slightly different order.

1. Upload the fix.

2. Document it prominently on your Web site.

3. Contact and advise all users that have the original version.

You'll be amazed at the warm response you will get from customers when you take quick, proactive action to rectify problems. Behaving professionally earns respect.

Fixable, but Not Immediately

You'll have to make a call on how fast you can really sort this out but remember there's nothing worse than making a bad situation abysmal. So always err on the side of caution and allow more time for safety in these circumstances. What you are doing is postponing the release.

1. Contact everyone who has the software.

2. Remove the offending files from Web/FTP sites.

3. Replace with previous version.

4. Upload statements explaining the situation.

5. Treat the fix upload as a quality control and release operation.

The Situation Is Irrevocable

The sooner you pull the release the less indecisive your organization will appear. Customers who have paid for upgrades should be refunded immediately.

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