Effective IT Project Management: Using Teams to Get Projects Completed on Time and under Budget

Effective IT Project Management: Using Teams to Get Projects Completed on Time and under Budget

by Anita Rosen

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Overview

Effective IT Project Management: Using Teams to Get Projects Completed on Time and under Budget by Anita Rosen

"Effective IT Project Management gives you a complete blueprint for overseeing every step of your projects, from initial planning to completion. You'll learn a proven system for planning and executing IT projects all the way through the project management life cycle, and get important insight into the overall responsibilities and goals of a product team.

Giving you indispensable tools to help you make informed decisions and focus your time and efforts for maximum impact, the book outlines, in detail, every step of the project life cycle:

Phase One

Project Concept: Propose new project ideas and align the project with the strategic direction of the organization. Once approval is granted, produce a project road map.

Phase Two

Project Design: Assemble a core team of people responsible for developing the project. Establish a schedule and estimate costs.

Phase Three

Project Development: Develop the project, making sure that all documented requirements are satisfied using a strict verification process. Begin to develop user manuals.

Phase Four

Quality Assurance: Deliver the finished product and user manuals to the Quality Assurance Group, and ensure that the product meets all specifications. Then, develop a marketing launch plan.

Phase Five

Beta: Send the project to a select group of users to test the product in a commercial environment. Monitor the process and continue to fix bugs.

Phase Six

Release: Prepare for full support of the project, and establish user training.

Phase Seven

General Availability: Put the project in use and train users. Manage the daily use of the project. Establish a yearly phase review to measure the project's continuing effectiveness.

Phase Eight

End of Life: Later in time, review the project history. Consider the current benefits and expenses, and decide whether to discontinue the project's use.

Simply written and containing in-depth analysis for beginners and advanced project managers alike, the book breaks the entire project down into easily understandable steps, making it simple to manage and keeping you and your team from becoming overwhelmed in the face of complex challenges. Packed with examples, explanations, and indispensable information, Effective IT Project Management is a practical, one-stop resource that will help you take the uncertainty out of IT projects.

Effective IT Project Management takes you step-by-step through the completion of an IT project, showing you how to plan, implement, manage, and organize both simple and complicated hardware and software projects. Using a project management life cycle approach in line with the methods espoused by the Project Management Institute (PMI®), you'll learn indispensable tips for how to:
• Organize the project
• Establish the scope
• Calculate both expected and hidden costs and risks
• Design the work breakdown structure
• Manage the implementation team
• Evaluate different possible solutions
• Create a working Product Requirement Document (PRD), Design Document, and other important, measurable forms

The book provides a complete system for successfully completing any type of IT project on time and under budget. By following the processes outlined in the book, you'll discover simple procedures for setting schedules, overcoming difficult challenges, getting new team members on board quickly, designating roles and responsibilities, establishing budgets, and measuring each stage of the project management life cycle.

Keeping the big picture in view while illustrating how to divide complex tasks into manageable chunks, Effective IT Project Management guides you all the way through the project, from establishing a team, to producing a schedule, anticipating hidden costs, creating required documents, developing user manuals, overseeing quality assurance, and monitoring the project in a commercial environment.

Filled with proven strategies that will help simplify even the most complicated IT project, Effective IT Project Management is a complete blueprint for achieving IT project success."

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780814408124
Publisher: AMACOM
Publication date: 04/07/2003
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 7.42(w) x 10.20(h) x 1.14(d)
Age Range: 17 Years

About the Author

Anita Rosen has more than 20 years’ experience in IT project management. She has worked for companies including Alta Vista, Oracle, Netscape, Novell, AT&T, and IBM. She is the author of The E-Commerce Question and Answer Book. She lives in Mt. View, California.

Read an Excerpt

Effective IT Project Management


By Anita Rosen

AMACOM Books

Copyright © 2004 Anita Rosen
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-8144-0812-5


Introduction

General Stonewall Jackson, the "winningest" general in the American Civil War, was asked by a reporter what the secret was to his success. General Jackson replied "I'm the firstest with the mostest."

As an IT manager you face innumerable problems and projects with incredible pressure to finish them on time and under budget.

For example:

* The company is looking at running more effectively and efficiently. How can IT projects be better executed?

* Other departments are always complaining that it takes IT too long to develop new solutions. How can IT shorten development processes and provide user departments with more insight into the steps necessary to create an effective new solution.

* The last project nearly killed everyone in IT. IT won't be able to keep up their current pace for long. There has to be a better way to manage new projects.

* The company is looking at ISO 9000 certification. The most logical place to start an ISO 9000 implementation process is within the project life cycle (PLC). What is an effective PLC process?

* It always seems that every project release is a scramble. No one ever really knows what is going to be in the final project or when the project will actually be released until the date it is released. How can better information be provided for projects?

* Project decisions seem to be made in the hallways. There is never a forum where all the facts can be laid out and discussed. How can the process be better managed?

More and more IT managers are realizing that project management processes can help them address these problems. The project life cycle is one such process.

The project life cycle, or PLC, is the process of identifying, creating, releasing, managing, and discontinuing a project. This straightforward process is an invaluable tool for helping IT managers to successfully complete a project on time and under budget. The PLC is made up of a series of distinct phases. Employees throughout the company may become involved with the project at various times throughout the project's life.

The adage goes, how do you eat an elephant ... one bite at a time. The same applies to developing a project. It is best to break the development process into manageable units. This book consists of eight chapters. Each chapter represents one phase in the life cycle of a project.

Here's an overview of the eight phases:

Phase 1-Project Concept

All new projects or new releases must be evaluated to make sure they strategically fit the company direction. Phase 1 provides the forum for introducing new project ideas and obtaining approval to continue project definitions. The objective of Phase 1 is to introduce a new project idea or next-generation idea to the company, to gain agreement on relevance to strategic direction, to produce a project road map, and for executive staff to receive a snapshot of the projected costs so they can decide if it is beneficial for the company to develop this project.

Phase 2-Project Design

The objective of Phase 2 is to define and design a project that satisfies the requirements identified in Phase 1, Project Concept, and to establish a core team of people responsible for representing their organizations in the development of this project. The objective of Phase 2 is to create a project team, an integrated schedule, and a Development Cost Baseline, as well as to freeze the Project Requirements Document (PRD). By the end of Phase 2, the team can present the actual release date, the final Feature/Functionality List, and the projected costs of developing the project.

Phase 3-Project Development

Phase 3 focuses on developing a project that satisfies the requirements created in the Design Document and the Project Requirements Document. IT develops the project and verifies that it works. As they complete their verification they pass the project to the Quality Assurance group (QA) so that the Quality Assurance group can begin testing the project to assure it meets company quality guidelines. IT also passes the project to Documentation so that they may begin creating user manuals and help files that will support the project.

Phase 4-Quality Assurance

There are two mutually exclusive processes taking place in Phase 4, the Quality Assurance of the project, and if the project will be sent to customers, the development of the Project Launch Plan. The Quality Assurance group receives the finished project from IT and the user manuals and help files from Documentation. The Quality Assurance group then tests the project and uses the documentation to make sure the project, along with the supporting documentation, meets the Design Document specifications, the Documentation Plan, and the Project Requirements Document. If the project will be given to customers, the Communications and Business Development groups develop the Project Launch Plan. This plan includes all the marketing deliverables necessary to launch a project. A Project Launch plan will include due dates and release dates, an advertising plan, and a PR and press tour schedule. If the project is for customers, Business Development works with sales to identify, contact, and sign up customers who will test the project at their location. For internal projects, the Quality Assurance group will work with the Help Desk and the project manager to identify internal beta sites. For projects that include hardware, software, or services that need to be scheduled or installed, the project manager will develop a release plan.

Phase 5-Beta

Beta testing takes place after the Quality Assurance group agrees that the project, user manuals, and help files are functional and that they meet the Design Document and the Documentation Plan specifications. The project is then sent to a select group of users who have agreed to test the project and to confirm that its features work in a commercial environment. The Quality Assurance group takes the lead in monitoring the user test process. IT continues to fix bugs. Meanwhile, if the project will be available to customers, Business Development is focused on actualizing the Project Launch Plan.

Phase 6-Release

After the beta sites sign off on the quality of the project, the team enters Phase 6. Phase 6 is the time it takes for the project to be staged and sent to users. The team finalizes its decision and the scope of the release (monitored or normal). Help Desk tests to make sure that they are ready to take over full support of the project, and that user training is ready. If the project is being released to customers, Business Development and Communications confirm that the launch plan is ready.

Phase 7-General Availability

General availability is the phase when a project is in use. Help Desk is assisting end users, end users are being trained, and IT is managing the daily use of the project and fixing any bugs. It is good business practice for executive management to review projects on a yearly basis. The yearly phase review is used as an after-the-fact tool to measure the effectiveness of the estimates created during the earlier PLC process; it also helps to identify if projects are effectively being used or need new features, or if they should enter End of Life.

Phase 8-End of Life

At some point in time, the project becomes obsolete or more expensive to support than the benefit generated from its use. End of Life is the process whereby the project history can be reviewed and a decision can be made on how to discontinue a project.

Having a set PLC process ensures that all participants know what is expected of them, when it is expected, where they get information from, and to whom they give information. With a defined process, there is less chance for surprises, fires, and items to be forgotten. A thorough PLC process ensures prerequisites are completed when needed, since employees understand what is expected of them. Processes are already created, so they don't need to be re-created for each release.

For the executives, having a clear process provides them with the tools to focus on strategic direction instead of worrying about implementation. Executives can feel comfortable with the knowledge that projects are proceeding as planned when they have a process that includes monitored phases and standard deliverables. Periodic reviews of the project flow provide executives with the ability to get clear, standard snapshots of a project throughout the development process. Instead of fires and excuses, executives now have information.

Many projects are the result of a great idea. Execution is the difference between a successful project and one that does not meet user needs, that comes in late, or that is over budget. These needs might be features, functionality, the time to market, or an understanding of the project as a component within the market. The PLC process provides a road map to ensure all components are reviewed at the beginning of a project and revisited throughout each development phase. This road map provides management with the tools to fine-tune the project and with an accurate availability date in the early stages and throughout the project development process.

Many IT organizations think they don't need processes because they are too small or that a documented process is too bureaucratic. PLC is as bureaucratic as the company makes it. Companies of all sizes need to plan their projects properly. Executives need to be focused on driving business direction, not on making sure individual contributors know what to do next. The PLC process is an excellent means for making sure everyone is in agreement on what needs to be done; it provides the infrastructure to ensure deliverables are completed in the correct order and on time. Having a PLC process in place provides the infrastructure for companies to implement new ideas with less confusion since all employees have a road map on how to get a project out the door.

A defined project life cycle process does not guarantee that projects will be developed on time and on budget. A written corporate project life cycle process provides a company with a definition of what is created and when it is created. Without an understanding of why these things are created, a scope of what is created, and an understanding of how each department's deliverables fit into the company as a whole, a defined project life cycle becomes just another bureaucratic process. The purpose of this book is to provide employees with a road map to understand what, when, and why procedures and deliverables are created, in order to create an informed, intelligent decision-making process. Now that you have an overview of the process, the next step to consider is your team.

Building Your Project Team

The number of people on your team will vary depending on the size and visibility of the project. No matter what size the project is, the same functions need to be executed. Here are some of the functional roles you'll need to fill for a successful team:

IT

IT is the functional area responsible for programming, managing, and integrating the project's hardware and software. They are also responsible for defining, designing, and developing a project, as well as for conducting its initial testing and fixing any errors before it is released. IT is the key member on the project team and needs to be available to provide technical information both written and verbal to all members of the team.

Communications

Communications is the functional area responsible for all communications inside and outside of the company. Smaller companies do not need a separate communications person for internal projects; the Project Manager will handle all the internal corporate communication. Larger companies with offices scattered around the United States or around the globe will need a person to provide communications to end users. If the project being developed will be made available to people outside the company, the corporate communications person will need to interact with public relations, advertising, industry analysts, and other outside agencies.

Business Development

The Business Development person is responsible for project direction, industry analysis, and competitive analysis, as well as for understanding the user and identifying and driving project direction. Business Development works with all areas of the company to make sure the project is focused on the user and is presented in the best possible light.

Project Manager

The Project Manager's responsibility is to make sure each member of the team understands his or her interdependencies. The Project Manager facilitates communications among departments, as well as manages processes and confirms the deliverables within each stage of the project life cycle have been met. When deliverables slip, it is the responsibility of the Project Manager to escalate this information and to facilitate resolution. In smaller companies the Project Manager's duties usually incorporate those of Business Development and Communications.

Quality Assurance

Quality Assurance (QA) is responsible for defining, designing, developing, and implementing a test plan. QA tests the project to confirm that it meets the design specifications outlined in the Design Document and the PRD. QA uses the documentation developed by Documentation to ensure that it correctly explains how to install and use the project along with identifying how errors are to be handled. QA is responsible for managing the user test procedures defined in the Beta Plan and for confirming that bugs have been fixed.

Help Desk

Help Desk is responsible for defining, designing, and developing a detailed plan that articulates how the company will support a project after it is released. The Support Plan defines how Help Desk personnel are trained, how users will access help, how bugs will be tracked and fixed after release, what training will be available to end users, and how updates and fixes will be sent to users.

Documentation

Documentation is responsible for defining, designing, and developing all the documentation required to install, support, and answer any questions a user would have regarding a project. Documentation defines what publications will be produced in the Doc Plan; these may include online help, ELearning courses, or manuals. Documentation works closely with IT to develop these documents, and works closely with QA to assure documents are appropriate for end users.

Users

Although not actually on a team, users are so important to the success of a team they need to be thought of as a silent team member. The people who will use what the team is developing, users may be employees, partners, customers, or the general public.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Effective IT Project Management by Anita Rosen Copyright © 2004 by Anita Rosen. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

"List of Figures xi

Preface xiii

Introduction1

Chapter 1

Phase 1 — Project Concept 13

Chapter 2

Phase 2 — Project Design 55

Chapter 3

Phase 3 — Project Development 115

Chapter 4

Phase 4 — Quality Assurance 155

Chapter 5

Phase 5 — Beta 195

Chapter 6

Phase 6 — Release 227

Chapter 7

Phase 7 — General Availability 247

Chapter 8

Phase 8 — End of Life 265

Index 279"

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