By Joe Feliu in conjunction with the Enterprise Computing
Institute

Although projects occur throughout all organizations in the
IT group, the most urgent need is to have a documented project management
process that is followed for application development projects. Business
literature is replete with case studies of projects gone wrong, and careers
sidetracked. If your organization exhibits any of the following symptoms, make
an effective project management process a high priority:

  • Approved
    initiatives out-of-sync with business needs
  • Key
    business enabling projects not implemented 
  • Requirements
    and costs are not well defined/understood
  • Project
    surprises (dependencies, unknown commitments, etc.)
  • Staff
    make strategic decisions, not management
  • Slipped
    due dates and project cost overruns
  • Duplicate
    or unclear project roles and responsibilities
  • Project
    processes and procedures defined but “gathering dust”
  • Project
    resources over-committed
  • New
    project initiative generation process is a mystery
  • Frequent
    emergencies – reactive mode is standard operating procedure
  • Extensive
    rework late in development process
  • Overlapping
    or duplicative projects

The challenge is to implement a process that fits the
organizational culture, which will give early warning of impending problems so
that timely and appropriate action can be taken. The basis for the process is a
Project Methodology, most often expressed in terms of a Systems Development
Life Cycle. Such a methodology works equally well for infrastructure and
applications development efforts. With this methodology in place, project success rests on the adequacy of the Project Control
process used by the Project Manager. The following are the key elements of an
effective Project Control Process. Look for these features in your process,
particularly the rigor of the change control sub-process.

Project Control Process

A rigorous Project Management Process is a necessity. Here’s are its benefits:

  • Provides
    a common language for cross functional communication
  • Integrates
    actions of all stakeholders
  • Identifies
    problems early so that corrective action can be taken
  • Minimizes
    rework
  • Provides
    a framework against which to assess project changes

First steps

If there is not an effective project management discipline
within your organization (e.g., projects are started and not completed, or
time/cost estimates are regularly missed) take the following steps:

    1. Search
      through your senior staff to identify a resource with expertise in
      project management (use external resources if necessary)
    2. Have
      this individual document a project management process, with components
      similar to those provided in the previous example, tailored to the
      culture and development processes in your group
    3. Quickly
      institute project phase reviews (tied to your Systems Development Life
      Cycle) to ensure that projects do not get far off track while you are
      implementing the more formal project management process
    4. Consider
      creating a “competency center” of a small number of experienced project
      managers who can be allocated to projects as they arise

Example

Figure A shows a sample of a high level project plan for the
technical aspects of the implementation of a major system. Each task in this
plan would be expanded into numerous subtasks of typically several days in
duration. Further, this project plan will be a subset of a broader plan that
includes the complementary business-related activities involved in the successful
implementation of any information system.

center>

Figure A

Task No.

Task Name

Task Duration

Start Date

End Date

Task
Dependency

Task Owner

1.0

I.T. Infrastructure Readiness
Plan

247 days

6/9

2/10

1.1

Obtain Project Signoff
(Inception Phase)

1 day

6/9

6/9

Sam

1.2

Generate Detailed Project
Plan

5days

6/10

6/15

1.1

Sam

1.3

Define Technical Requirements
(Requirements Phase)

16 days

6/15

7/1

1.2

Sam

1.4

Conduct Technical System Design
(Design Phase)

31 days

7/1

8/1

1.3

Steve

1.5

Plan Production Support Strategy
(Begin Development Phase)

20 days

10/28

11/25

1.4

Howie

1.6

Complete Quality Assurance
System Site Preparation

5 days

8/8

8/12

1.4

Steve

1.7

Complete Production System Site
Preparation

10 days

8/10

8/21

1.4

Steve

1.8

Define and Implement a Printing
& Spooling Strategy

54 days

9/25

12/23

1.4

Mike

1.9

Assess and Install a Storage
System Strategy

35 days

9/18

11/7

1.4

Mike

1.10

Define and Implement a
Backup/Restore Strategy

46 days

11/7

12/23

1.9

Joe

1.11

Identify and Implement High
Availability Capability

89 days

8/15

12/19

1.4

Shelton

1.12

Define and Install a Disaster
Recovery Plan Strategy

89 days

8/24

12/30

1.4

Shelton

1.13

Define, Implement and Train –
Operations Management

101 days

8/25

1/26

1.4

Brenda

1.14

Assess and Install Sufficient
Network Capacity

76 days

7/15

11/25

1.4

Brenda

1.15

Implement Production System
Management Capability

65 days

10/2

12/22

1.4

Glenn

1.16

Define and Implement Desktop
Management Strategy

58 days

11/26

1/23

1.4

Glenn

1.17

Assess Production Readiness

2 day

1/23

1/24

1.16

All

1.18

Conduct Go Live Meeting –
Sign Off for Production Cut Over

1 day

1/24

1/24

1.17

All

1.19

Production Cut Over

1 day

1/25

1/25

1.18

Bob

1.20

Execute Post Go-Live Activities
(Begin Support Phase)

12 days

1/26

2/10

1.19

Sam

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