Assessing the Impact of Regulations and Requirements

Some projects are initiated due to an outside requirement or regulation. My wife, for example, is the director of a group of programmers who handle income tax programs for the state of Colorado. Every year the legislators mandate changes to the taxes that Coloradoans must pay, which in turn requires that changes be made to augment the tax systems. She has no choice over the fact that the changes must be made (and really doesn' t have much choice about the TQB equation—usually the changes have to happen regardless of budget).

More often, projects have legislative, regulatory, or other third-party restrictions imposed upon their processes or outputs. For example, suppose that you are managing a project that will create a new IT system for a funds management company, one that' s in the business of managing individual stock portfolios. You can imagine that this company is heavily regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and that your new system, in turn, will encounter several regulatory guidelines that you must follow. Especially pertinent will be the security aspect of your new system. You must be able to assure the SEC and your shareholders that the system is hack-proof.

It' s important that a project manager be able to not only recognize the need to investigate specific industry regulations and requirements, but also to communicate this need and its associated impact on the project scope and project plan to the stakeholders.

Regulations and external demands can take on all sorts of shapes and sizes. You may find that even small tasks and implementations associated with your project need to line up with a set of rigid guidelines. You will also have to research what kind of organizations provide required guidelines and govern standards. Here are a few examples of the many external considerations you need to account for:

Legal and regulatory conditions Know the statutes covering the type of activity your deliverable involves. If you collect information about customers, are you complying with privacy laws? Do you know which types of encryption can be exported legally? Also, you may face government reporting and documentation requirements or public disclosure rules.

Licensing terms Suppose that part of your project requires that developers write some code according to a Microsoft application programming interface (API). You need to be well aware of the licensing ramifications associated with using a Microsoft API. Trademark, copyright, and intellectual property issues all enter into this category.

Industry standards Your project may utilize various interfaces between systems. Is there some standard that governs such things? Dor example, Microsoft uses the Web-Based Enterprise Management (WBEM) standards to move management data from one place to another. You will need to find out how your new system can use the Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) interface to provide support for a heterogeneous system that you ' re developing. Theoretically, you would need to determine what, if any, specific methodologies or approved coding practices should be used in the implementation of your project.

Considerations such as these will help you refine the scope of the project (and probably adjust the TQB sliders), thus producing a more accurate project timeline.

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