The Project Proposal Life Cycle

When a user department determines a need for the development or enhancement of an information system, it is required to prepare a draft containing a statement of the problem from its functional perspective. The problem statement is sent[jy[bnto the president of ISD, who authorizes Systems Research (see Exhibit I) to prepare an impact statement. This impact statement will include a general overview from ISD's perspective of:

• Project feasibility

• Project complexity

• Conformity with long-range ISD plans

• Estimated ISD resource commitment

• Review of similar requests

• Unique characteristics/problems

• Broad estimate of total costs

The problem and impact statements are then presented to the members of the Priorities Committee for their review. The proposals are preliminary in nature, but they permit the broad concept (with a very approximate cost attached to it) to be reviewed by the executive group to see if there is serious interest in pursuing the idea. If the interest level of the committee is low, then the idea is rejected. However, if the Priorities Committee members feel the concept has merit, they authorize the Systems Research Group of ISD to prepare a full-scale project proposal that contains:

• A detailed statement of the problem

• Identification of alternative solutions

• User division

• Other operating divisions

• Estimated costs of solutions

• Schedule of approximate task duration

• Cost-benefit analysis of solutions

• Long-range implications

• Recommended course of action

After the project proposal is prepared by systems research, the user sponsor must review the proposal and appear at the next Priorities Committee meeting to speak in favor of the approval and priority level of the proposed work. The project proposal is evaluated by the committee and either dropped, tabled for further review, or assigned a priority relative to ongoing projects and available resources.

The final output of a Priorities Committee meeting is an updated list of project proposals in priority order with an accompanying milestone schedule that indicates the approximate time span required to implement each of the proposed projects.

The net result of this process is that the priority-setting for systems development is done by a cross section of executive management; it does not revert by default to data processing management. Priority-setting, if done by data processing, can lead to misunderstanding and dissatisfaction by sponsors of the projects that did not get ranked high enough to be funded in the near future. The project proposal cycle at FNB is diagrammed in Exhibit III. Once a project has risen to the top of the ranked priority list, it is assigned to the appropriate systems group for systems definition, system design and development, and system implementation.

The time spent by systems research in producing impact statements and project proposals is considered to be overhead by ISD. No systems research time is directly charged to the development of information systems.

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