Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Outputs to the IT Project Phases

Think back to the last time you were in a bakery where the aroma of freshly baked bread teased your senses. Making bread may be less complicated than administering an IT project, but it follows a similar development process with inputs (ingredients), tools (oven), and outputs (a loaf of bread).

Using a recipe and the necessary tools, the baker expects outputs at each stage—a ball of dough made from various ingredients, a larger ball of raised dough, and finally a perfectly formed and delicious loaf of bread.

An IT project also produces outputs, which are known as deliverables. These outputs are the results derived from each of the IT project's six phases—planning, analysis, design, construction, testing, and rollout.

Outputs, or deliverables, can help your team keep a project on track. Well-planned outputs are also an effective way for managers, IT organizations, sponsors, and users to learn effective lessons from a project. Remember to focus on achieving benefits and objectives when determining the outputs that will be generated during each phase of your project.

There are a number of major outputs for each phase in an IT project. Not all phases have the same number of outputs, but all deliverables help you and your team achieve success with the end product. Examples of outputs for each of the six IT project phases are listed below.

Planning phase. An example of a planning phase output is the business case, which provides validation for any project decisions made. It acts as the framework for performing all evaluations and as the starting point for guiding the management of the project.

Analysis phase. An example of an analysis phase output is the requirements specification, which contains or refers to the definition and details about the data, event, and process models, as well as the project quality requirements.

Design phase. An example of a design phase output is the design document, which contains or refers to the application architecture and flows, database and user interface designs, and the workflow diagram.

Construction phase. An example of a construction phase output is a programming work unit. Programming work units lay the base for the development of project codes for testing aids and application and conversion programs. Other nonprocedural codes are also included when applicable.

Testing phase. An example of a testing phase output is the operating instructions, which can be in the form of manuals, installation procedures, or instructions for using the new system. These instructions would be accessible to all end users.

Rollout phase. An example of a rollout phase output is the post-conversion review document, which can contain specifics on the scope of the conversion process and details about any problems that have occurred during conversion.
It is important to be aware of the outputs for each phase of your project. As you move through each phase, you will begin to understand the relevance of the role of each output for the particular phase to which it belongs.
Outputs can help your team tremendously by providing direction and valuable methods of recording the processes followed throughout your project.

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