Processes are an integral component of project management. They support all of the activities necessary to create and implement the product of the project. As described in Chapter 2, project management processes are concerned with defining and coordinating
the activities and controls needed to manage the project. On the other hand, product-oriented processes focus on the tangible results of the project, such as the application system itself. The product-oriented processes require specific domain knowledge, tools, and techniques in order to complete the work. For example, you would need completely different subject matter experts (SME), tools, and methods to build a house than you would to build a spacecraft to land on Mars. As Figure 3.1 suggests, there must be a balance between project management processes and product-oriented processes. An emphasis or sole focus on the project management processes does not provide the expertise or ability to define the project's scope or develop a quality system. However, a more product-oriented focus does not provide the management or controls to ensure that the work is completed as required. Therefore, a balance is needed to complete an IT project successfully.
Project Management Process Groups
The five process groups were introduced briefly in Chapter 2. As illustrated in Figure 3.2, these process groups overlap within and between the different phases of the project life cycle since the outcome of one process group within a phase becomes the input or catalyst for a process group of the next phase.
Initiating The initiating process signals the beginning of the project or phase. It requires an organization to make a commitment in terms of time and resources. For example, the first phase of the IT project methodology recommends the development of a business case to identify several viable alternatives that can support a particular organization's strategy and goals. In short, the time and effort needed to develop the business case does not come without a cost. One can measure this cost directly in terms of the labor cost and time spent, and indirectly by the time and effort that could have been devoted to some other endeavor.
Therefore, some type of organizational commitment is needed even during the earliest stages of a project.
Similarly, a business case recommendation, once approved, becomes a project. This decision requires an even greater commitment in terms of time and resources; however, the next phase, when the actual work on the project commences, requires a commitment of even more time and resources. Although all phases of the project should have some type of initiating process, the first phase of the IT project methodology, conceptualize and initialize, requires the most detail and attention.
Planning Since projects are undertaken to create something of value that generally has not been done before, the planning process is of critical importance. The planning process should be in line with the size and complexity of the project—that is, larger, complex projects may require a greater planning effort than smaller, less complex projects. Although planning is important for each phase of the project, the second phase of the IT project methodology, developing the project charter and project plan, requires the most planning activities. In addition, planning is usually an iterative process. A project manager may develop a project plan, but senior management or the client may not approve the scope, budget, or schedule. In addition, planning is still more of an art than a science. Experience and good judgment are just as important as, and perhaps even more important to quality planning than, using the latest project management software tool. It is important that the project manager and project team develop a realistic and useful project plan. Supporting processes include scope planning, activity planning, resource planning, cost estimating, schedule estimating, organizational planning, and procurement planning.
Executing Once the project plan has been developed and approved, it is time to execute the activities of the project plan or phase. The product-oriented processes play an important role when completing the project plan activities. For example, the tools and methods for developing and/or implementing a system become critical for achieving the project's end result. Supporting processes include quality assurance, risk management, team development, and an implementation plan. Although executing processes are part of every project phase, the majority of the executing processes will occur during the execute and control phase of the IT project methodology.
Controlling The controlling process group allows for managing and measuring the progress towards the project's MOV and the scope, schedule, budget, and quality objectives. Controls not only tell the project team when deviations from the plan occur, but also measure progress towards the project's goal. Supporting processes include scope control, change control, schedule control, budget control, quality control, and a communications plan. The emphasis on controlling processes will occur during the execution and control phase of the IT project methodology.
Closing The closing process group focuses on bringing a project or project phase to a systematic and orderly completion. The project team must verify that all deliver-ables have been satisfactorily completed before the project sponsor accepts the project's product. In addition, the final product—the information system—must be integrated successfully into the day-to-day operations of the organization. Closure of a project should include contract closure and administrative closure. Contract closure ensures that all of the deliverables and agreed upon terms of the project have been completed and delivered so that the project can end. It allows resources to be reassigned and settlement or payment of any account, if applicable. Administrative closure, on the other hand, involves documenting and archiving all project documents. It also includes evaluating the project in terms of whether it achieved its MOV. Lessons learned should be documented and stored in a way that allows them to be made available to other project teams, present and future. Although each phase must include closing processes, the major emphasis on closing processes will occur during the close project phase of the IT project methodology.
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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.