In a situation where the project can't deliver the complete product by the deadline, there is still the possibility that it might deliver some useful part of it. Information systems composed of several subsystems, for example, will often implement one subsystem at a time. Tenants can move into some floors in a new office building while there is active construction on other floors, and sections of a new freeway are opened as they are completed rather than waiting for the entire freeway to be complete. Positive. Phased delivery has several benefits:
• Something useful is delivered as soon as possible.
• Often, as in the case of information systems, phased delivery is actually preferred because the changes introduced by the new system happen a little at a time. This longer time frame can reduce the negative impacts to ongoing business operations.
• Feedback on the delivered product is used to improve the products still in development.
• By delivering over a longer period, the size of the project team can be reduced; a smaller team can lead to lower communication and coordination costs. And, since the people are working for a longer time on the project, project-specific expertise grows. These factors should lead to increased productivity in subsequent project phases and to an overall lower cost for the project.
• Phased delivery allows for phased payment. By spreading the cost of the project over a longer time, a larger budget might be more feasible.
Negative. Not all products can be implemented a piece at a time. Phased implementation may also require parallel processes, in which old methods run concurrently with new methods, and this can temporarily lead to higher operating costs.
Best application. Modularized products, whose components can operate independently, can be delivered in phases. In order to determine how to phase a product delivery, you need to look for the core functionality—the part of the product that the other pieces rely on— and implement that first. The same criteria may be used in identifying the second and third most important components. When multiple components are equally good candidates, they can be prioritized according to business requirements.
Although consumer products such as automobiles don't appear to be good candidates for phased delivery ("You'll be getting the windshield in January and the bumpers should arrive in early March . . ."), a limited amount of phased delivery is possible for some consumer products. For example, software products can be upgraded cheaply and effectively over time by using the Internet, and current customers can download product updates directly onto their computers from company sites on the World Wide Web.
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What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.