The Detailed Plan

The most difficult part of the process is to develop the detailed plan, possibly because there might be a gap between the business's initial expectations of the alliance and what can really get accomplished at a detailed level. The project plan includes scope, timeline, and resources. While project managers cannot dictate all three, they should be able to determine at least one. Of course, even if the scope and timeline are set, IT cannot always accomplish the objectives by adding more resources to the project. No matter how many resources are available, some processes cannot be completed more quickly.

Scope The project plan's scope should be as complete as possible. Here, a number of issues will be raised, and solving them quickly will be a key success factor. An issues log with origination date and required answer date is a necessity.

In an alliance, one company will typically have an unsuccessful line of business that is a strength of the other company. It is necessary to decide what to do with the potentially competing line of business: continue it, convert it, or sell it. This determination usually differs from establishing new linkages between the different IT resource efforts.

However, it is also critical to define new linkages between the companies in terms of systems integration and data sharing. Examples include marketing and financial information, revenue, and financial compensation. Detailed discussions are necessary for data definitions and mapping.

The size of the alliance effort depends on related experiences and expectations on the part of both companies. Companies with previous alliance experience are more likely to reuse programs, interfaces, and file generation. Companies with little or no such experience will require more time, effort, and communication.

Identification of all the hardware, software, and staff costs involved will help expedite the transition. For example, an alliance will close more quickly if software licensing costs continue to run transition systems on the selling company's infrastructure as a third-party administrative function.

In addition, both organizations should include enough travel budget and time to develop proper face-to-face relationships. IT should also build solid relationships with the vendors involved to ensure a smooth transition for packaged applications. Success depends on having a strategy for contacting vendors. For example, if one alliance company has a better working relationship with various vendors, it should be leveraged.

Planning should be included for all phases of the effort. These include requirements development, systems development, testing (of IT, the business area, systems, performance tuning, etc.), conversion, and implementation.

Unforeseen costs will arise. If the contract wording specifies that all costs are shared equally, all profits might also be shared equally.

The business's general, high-level scope must be compared to the detailed scope as defined above. This checkpoint raises new issues that must be validated regarding if they are in or out of the initial project scope. This determination might require cost-benefit information.

Timeline A timeline is typically established during the contract discussions. It might be a vague statement targeting the end of the third quarter, or it could be based on a company year-end.

IT should understand the exact commitments in terms of the business deliverables and logic, in order to gauge the flexibility for changes. When IT understands the business logic behind the timeline, the only options for change may be to reduce the scope or increase the costs.

Once the timeline is agreed to, there must be communication of status at established milestone checkpoints. Contingency plans must be developed in case the timeline cannot be met.

Costs The business area usually has a cost in mind for the alliance that has been approved in the project plan. Once the detailed IT costs are validated, they must be immediately communicated to the business area, to determine disparity between the initial and detail plans. All costs must be included, from hardware and software to staff time. The latter requires an assessment of the necessary skill sets, and some hard dollars may be needed for contracting.

The costs should be itemized and attached to specific scope items and deliverables so that the business area can analyze the costs and benefits of scope decisions. In some cases, IT and the business can work together to reduce specific requirement costs by scaling back or making slight changes that dramatically reduce the timeline and cost. No matter what the final figure, the plan should include some level of contingency funding to ensure sufficient money to complete the project.

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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