When I was an IBM systems engineer in the late 70s, I learned the value of creating project templates to improve productivity in installing new computer systems. My first project template was a new computer installation guideline that helped kickstart the project and keep it on schedule.

Later, I used the same concept to develop a systems conversion project template to help my IT organizations’ abilities in converting systems and business applications. TechRepublic members can now download this systems conversion template and customize it for their next system installation or conversion.

Using the template
You can use this project template to help with new installations of system servers, business applications, or networks, as well as to replace or migrate any of these items from one system platform to another one.

The template includes six sections and is set up to be flexible for modification and use. It starts with a list of tasks for key project categories necessary to execute a systems conversion, including:

  • Assessment: Identify key assessments and decisions needed to complete a systems conversion project.
  • Ordering: Itemize all items that must be ordered to ensure timely delivery and avoid creating a bottleneck that jeopardizes the project.
  • Infrastructure implementation: Infrastructure setup is usually the first priority.
  • Programming: Identify timelines and responsibility for all programming requirements as necessary.
  • Training: Include training for all employees who are affected by the project and who need training.

The template allows you to organize tasks by major category for effective project status meetings. It also provides space for defining task responsibilities. The right portion of the spreadsheet is used to show the timeline for each task, including the start and end date of the task and the completion status.

To indicate a task that is needed, you’ll simply place a slash (/) in the cell for the timeframe when the task is expected to be worked on. If a task runs for several weeks, it will be seen as “/——/” to cover the weeks needed. Months are broken into five-week segments, with a column for each week. I typically designate each week with the Friday date in the heading of each weekly column. As tasks are completed, change the slash to an X.

Setting up a project this way allows you to work through a project status meeting quickly and efficiently. You can review a project easily by looking down the week ending date and identifying any project that is not complete. It also helps to be able to see tasks that are scheduled to be done in the next two weeks; this way, you can ask pertinent questions during a status meeting to ensure key tasks are on schedule and will not create a bottleneck for the project.

Mike Sisco is a former CIO and has written 10 books for his IT Manager Development Series.