Service Pack Testing Procedures

Before rolling out a new service pack to an organisation a level of testing needs to be performed. Whilst testing might not seem like the most fun or productive task, it usually saves just as much time or more if things were to go wrong.

This article will refer to Office 2007 Service Pack 2 as the service pack, but the principles still apply to any service pack roll out.


Research the service pack

Delaying the service pack roll out by more than a month is generally a good idea as it allows for bugs to be discovered in the service pack or unknown compatibility issues to be highlighted.

Investigate what the service pack applies, generally it’s a combination of hotfixes, updates and enhancements.

Take careful not of the changes that will affect usability, the end users might require additional support after the roll out.


Define Installation Scenarios to test

Install the service pack on a range of computer configurations that are in your organisation, for example:

  • A Windows XP SP2 Installation with Office 2007 SP1
  • A Windows XP SP3 Installation with Office 2007 SP1
  • An installation of Office 2007 (without a service pack)

Monitor the time it takes to install, the hard drive space used, if the computer needs to restart, if any applications need to be closed for the installation to progress, the load on the CPU and RAM etc.


Define core applications and business systems to test

As service packs apply various changes to the applications, registry and DLL files you will need to test a broad coverage of your users business requirements.

  • Test template documents-
    • Do these operate macros?
  • Open additional mailboxes in Outlook
  • Make bookings for shared resources with Outlook
  • Use Access to get information from an SQL database
  • Do any other applications integrate with office that need to be tested?
    • Sharepoint integration
    • Office Communicator


Prepare an initial test roll out

Once satisfied with the service pack in your environment prepare a roll out to your IT Services group. By doing this you can minimise the impact to your clients and allow your team members to do some final testing before the service pack goes to the production environment.

Ask the team to note down any issues during of after the install process as well as details like how long the installation took and if the computer was still usable during the installation.


Decide on a deployment method

Usually this involves using WSUS, but SMS, group policy, MSI install files, log on scripts or another software package application might be considered.


Develop a backup plan

What will you be able to do if the installation fails? Usually for workstations it will be easier to re-image but ‘repair’ installations might be considered.


Do a pilot roll out

Deploy the service pack to a small sample of your users as a test, carefully monitor how successful the process goes.


Deploy to the production workstations

Depending on the size of your environment you might need to slowly deploy the service pack, this can minimise impact to the business stop an influx of calls to the IT support.

During the process keep all involved people informed, this includes letting clients know when to leave their computer on for the update and the helpdesk and infrastructure staff.