Projects are rarely initiated in a vacuum. There is usually some kind of existing infrastructure into which the project can fit. The project leader who does not already know about this structure needs to find out its precise nature.
Some of the issues of strategic planning are addressed m Chapter 3.
Step 2. 7 : Identify relationship between the project and strategic planning As well as identifying projects to be carried out, an organization needs to decide the order in which these projects are to be carried out. It also needs to establish the framework within which the proposed new systems are to fit. Hardware and software standards, for example, are needed so that various systems can communicate w ith each other. These strategic decisions must be documented in a strategic business plan or in an information technology plan that is developed from the business plan.
Case Study Examples: Amanda finds at IOE that there is a well-defined rolling strategic plan that has Role of existing strategic identified her group accounts subsystem as an important required dev elopment, plans Because it is an extension of an existing system, the hardware and software platforms upon which the application are to run are dictated.
Brigettc at Brightmouth College finds that there is an overall College strategic plan that describes new courses to be developed, and so on, and mentions in passing the need for 'appropriate administrative procedures* to be in place. In a short section in a consultant's report from an accountancy firm concerning the implications of financial autonomy, there is a recommendation that independent payroll processing be undertaken. Although the college has quite a lot of IT equipment for teaching purposes, there is no machine set aside for payroll processing and the intention is that the hardware to run the payroll will be acquired at the same time as the software.
Step 2.2: Identify installation standards and procedures Any organization that develops software should define its development procedures. As a minimum, the normal stages in the software life cycle to be carried out should be documented along with the products created at each stage.
Change control and configuration management standards should be in place to See Chapter 9 on ensure that changes to requirements are implemented in a safe and orderly way. Monitoring and Control.
The procedural standards may lay down the quality checks that need to be done at each point of the project life cycle or these may be documented in a separate quality standards andprocedures manual.
The organization, as part of its monitoring and control policy must have in place a measurement programme that dictates that certain statistics have to be collected at various stages of a project.
Finally the project manager should be aware of any project planning and control standards. These will relate to the way that the project is controlled: for example, the way that the hours spent by team members on indiv idual tasks are recorded on time-sheets
Amanda at IOE finds that there is a very weighty manual of development Case Study Examples:
standards, which, among other things, specifies that SSADM will be the analysis Identifying standards and design method used. She finds that a separate document has been prepared, laying down quality procedures. This specifies when the reviews of work will be carried out and describes detailed procedures about how the reviews are to be done. Amanda also finds a set of project management guidelines modelled closely on PRINCH 2.
Brigette finds no documents of the nature that Amanda found at IOE except for some handouts for students that have been produced by different lecturers at different times and that seem to contradict each other.
As a stop-gap measure. Brigette writes a brief document, which states what the main stages of a 'project* (perhaps 'job for the user' would be a better term in this context) should be. This happens to be very similar to the list given in Chapter I. She stresses that:
• no job of work to change a system or implement a new one is to be done w ithout there being a detailed specification first;
• the users must agree to, or 'sign off', each specification in writing before the work is carried out.
She draws up a simple procedure for recording all changes to user requirements. Brigette, of course, has no organizational quality procedures, but she dictates that each person in the group (including herself) has to get someone else to check through his or her work at the end of a major task and that, before any new or amended software is handed over to the users, someone other than the original producer should test it. She sets up a simple system to record errors found in system testing and their resolution. She also creates a log file of reported user problems with operational systems.
Brigette does not worry about time sheets but arranges an informal meeting w ith her colleagues each Monday morning to discuss how things are going and also arranges to see the Vice-Principal, w ho is her official boss, and the heads of the finance and personnel sections each month to rev iew progress in general terms.
Stop 2.3: Identify project team organization
Some of these issues will be discussed in Chapter 11 - Managing people and organizing teams.
Project leaders, especially in the case of large projects, will often have some control over the organizational structure of the project team. More often, though, the organizational structure will be dictated to them. For example, there might have been a high level managerial decision that code developers and systems analysts will be in different groups, or that the development of PC applications will not be done w ithin the same group as that responsible for legacy' main-frame applications.
If the project leader does have some control over the project team organization then this would best be considered at a later stage (see Step 7: Allocate resources).
Case Study Examples: At IOE. there are groups of systems analysts set up as teams that deal with Project organization individual user departments. Hence the users always know whom they should contact within the information systems department if they have a problem. Code developers, however, work in a 4pool* and are allocated to specific projects on an ad hoc basis.
At Brightmouth College, Brigette has seconded to her a software developer who has been acting as a technician supporting the computing courses in the college. She is also allowed to recruit a trainee analyst/programmer. She is not unduly worried about the organizational structure that is needed.
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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.