Determining Project Development Tolerance Within The Organization

Every organization has a particular level of IT application project development tolerance. The level within a given organization depends on a number of items throughout the organization. One approach to improving the IT development project process is to come to an understanding about the practical manageable size of IT applications projects within a particular organization. That determination can be made through a review of past projects. Reviewing the results of past IT applications development projects provides information that can be used to develop success or failure trends, which in turn, can be analyzed with reference to project size.

Some type of criteria must be developed by which to judge project "success" or "failure." Those criteria will vary within organizations, depending on those factors that are considered important within the organization. The key with regard to any single criterion used to make the judgements is that it should be seen as a reasonable measure within the organization. In addition, the criteria cannot be allowed to become cumbersome or complex. The goal here must be to select a set of basic components that will provide not the definitive answer but rather a guideline as to the probable success of a given project based upon past experience within the organization. Where that probability suggests that the project is likely to fail, adjustments must be made to bring project size, time, and complexity to a level that will provide a higher probability of success.

As an example, assume that during the past three years, the IT department has worked on 125 projects. During that time, an average of 700 development hours have been devoted to those projects, for a total of 87,500 hours. In doing an analysis of the 125 projects, it is found that, under the criteria developed for determining success or failure, 18 projects fall into the failure classification. Of those 18 projects, 14 have exceeded 900 hours of development time and again, using the success or failure criteria, all 14 projects carried a high level of complexity. In addition, only three projects taking more than 800 hours have been brought to a successful conclusion during the past three years.

At this point, what the analysis shows is that, within this organization, projects that exceed 900 hours of development time are prone to failure. The result of that analysis indicates that IT development projects in excess of 900 hours of effort seem to be beyond the management capabilities of the IT department. Another fact developed from the analysis showed that over the three-year period, three IT project managers had, regardless of the size or complexity of the project, always brought their projects in on time, within budget, and in accord with the project requirements.

Several quick conclusions can be drawn from the analysis. First, it is probably not in the interest of the organization to consider any applications development projects that approach or exceed 900 hours of effort. Second, several project managers are, in spite of the development environment, able to bring projects to a successful conclusion. Two conclusions can be drawn about the role of those project managers. First, those project managers should be assigned to the largest, most complex projects within the organization. Second, further study should be done to determine why those managers are successful.

Where the analysis is carefully done and the criteria used to judge success or failure are reasonable and consistent, patterns of IT project development success and failure can be identified. Done correctly, the analysis of prior applications projects should provide information about the optimum level of project size and complexity with regard to probable success. That should not be seen to imply that whatever that level is it is the best that can be accomplished. What it means is that for the present, a ceiling on project size can be determined. Remaining under that ceiling can bring about an immediate improvement in the management of projects, but it should also be seen as setting the base for moving to new practices that will allow that ceiling to be raised.

So, the analysis meets two requirements. It provides a guideline as to the limits of project size and associated complexity within the organization. It also provides the basis for moving forward to bring about changes within the organization, particularly within the IT department, that will lead to the ability in the future to handle larger, more complex applications projects.

In the example used, several conclusions can be drawn that can be used to identify IT project development problem areas and to begin to develop plans to raise the levels of development success within the IT department. The material drawn from the analysis in the example shows that in the past, the organization got into trouble when project size exceeded 900 hours of effort. In thinking about that hour range, it should be kept in mind that not only are the hours a factor, but as the size of a project grows, the complexity of that project also grows. An inherent linkage exists between project size and complexity, and they have to be considered as inseparable when examining the causes of project failure.

With regard to size and complexity, the analysis also shows that they do not appear to be negative factors in the development of projects if the management of those projects is under the direction of one of the several strong project managers. It would be beneficial to pursue the reasons why some managers appear to do well regardless of the size or complexity of their projects. Determining what those managers are doing correctly and then applying their management techniques to the manner in which other projects are managed could bring significant benefits to the organization.

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

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.

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