Sunday, July 1, 2007

Key Activities of an IT Project

During the planning phase of the IT project life cycle, the project manager must complete three key activities, which will provide the foundation for the entire project. To complete these activities, the project manager will have to use a number of tools, such as word processing and spreadsheet software.

The three key activities project managers must complete during the planning phase are described below. As you review these activities, note that there are associated subactivities that will help the project manager successfully complete each key activity.

1. Project initiation and organization
The first key activity, project initiation and organization, involves identifying the work required to obtain management approval for the project and the subsequent planning of the work effort. The subactivities of initiating and organizing the project involve identifying the items listed below.
  • The scope of the project identifies the key system objectives and describes the overall system function. It enables the development team to understand what the customer wants the system to do and what the team has to do to reach its goal.
  • Applicable standards are any rules the development team must follow during the life of the project. These standards must be met in order for the customer to be satisfied with the project.
  • The organization and training needs of the project team are identified and implemented in the planning phase so that the development of the product is not held up.
2. Project definition and planning
The second key activity, project definition and planning, is the largest of the three key activities, and will take the longest. It involves developing the project definition, and conducting the planning and estimation involved in the system's design.

The project definition is used as a major input to the detailed planning and resourcing that takes place as each phase of work is planned, initiated, and put into practice. Upon completion of this key activity, the project team will have a work plan that contains all the necessary information to move on to the next phase of the life cycle if management approves the project. The subattributes for conducting project definition and planning are shown below.
  • Review present status. If any type of software is to be used in the development of the new system, the project manager should look at what is available on the market to see if it meets any of the project's needs.
  • Identify business objectives and information strategy. The project manager should review the business and information plan to identify any requirements, guidelines, or strategies that the team should follow.
  • Survey information needs. The information needs are acquired by assessing the needs of the end users. By assessing the functional and technical needs, the project team has a better idea of what the new system should be capable of doing.
  • Identify hardware and software environment. To develop the conceptual design, the project team needs to know the software and hardware environments of the new system. If no environment has been selected by the client, the project team will select one.
  • Develop conceptual design. The project team develops a conceptual design in order to communicate the basic functionality and behaviors of the new system. The conceptual design can be developed using drawings, flowcharts, or storyboards.
  • Investigate packaged systems alternatives and evaluate development alternatives. Check to see if there is an existing system. If there is, it can be a valuable tool for the development team. The members of the team can rate the packaged system's strengths and weaknesses and determine what improvements need to be made.
  • Prepare project impact analysis. The members of the project team prepare a report on the costs and benefits of the proposed system. They determine any risks and organizational impacts on the project.
  • Finalize project work plan. The project team prepares a final report for management that covers the work that needs to be completed to create the project, and details the cost involved in creating the product.
3. Management review and approval
The last key activity, management review and approval, involves presenting the project definition and planning outputs for authorization to commence the project. Once management has granted approval, a sign-off is given, and the project can move on to the next phase.

During the planning phase, make sure that you conduct each of the three key activities described above. By doing so, you can help ensure the success of your project.

No comments: