Monday, June 25, 2007

The Six Phases of an IT Project

Have you ever heard the saying "putting the cart ahead of the horse?" If you wanted to move your cart forward, having the cart in front would not really help. In order to make progress, you would want to put the horse ahead of the cart.

Performing tasks in sequence is also an important aspect of IT projects. The phases of an IT project, also known as a software development lifecycle, make up the framework of an IT project. These phases, which are listed below in sequence, will help you to address the business needs of your project, and better define the activities that will occur throughout the project's entire life span.

1. Planning
First, you must look at the information technology needs of your company. These needs are determined during the planning phase of an IT project by using an information-gathering technique such as a questionnaire.

Keep in mind that the objective must address and remedy an issue or a problem within the company. Once you define the objective, you can put an action plan into place. A description of the development approach that the IT team will take and the estimation of the overall cost are factors that are determined during this phase.

2. Analysis
The analysis phase is the second phase in the software development lifecycle. This phase focuses on the functions the end system will need to perform.

Once you establish the performance needs, you will be able to develop and formalize a more detailed description of the system. The use of business, data, event, and process models during the analysis phase will ensure that both the development team and the end user are on the same track.

3. Design
The third phase of an IT project is the design phase. In it, the plan for the end system is developed. This plan should accurately define the implementation of the project without actually executing the project.

4. Construction
During the fourth phase of the project, the IT team actually constructs the project or system. In this construction phase, the team uses a process map that identifies the procedures that need to be completed to duplicate the agreed-upon plan.

5. Testing
The testing phase is possibly the most critical of all the IT project phases. It is in this phase that the team determines which tests to implement to ensure that the system being produced will be of the highest quality.

6. Rollout
The final phase in an IT project is rollout. It is during this phase that the team begins the activities for releasing the finished product to the end user. Planning for the rollout activities can help the process progress more smoothly.

For example, if another system is already in place, your team will need to thoroughly review the conversion process to ensure the smooth transition from the previous system to the new one.

Every organization should have a structure in place to deal with processes, principles, and guidelines for every IT project. The phases described above can provide a useful framework for the effective development and completion of your next IT project.

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