Execute the project management plan and ensure that the projects are under the control of an experienced project manager. Follow leading established project management disciplines, such as e.g. PMI PMP or PRINCE2.
Execute successful project management
Project management is the discipline of initiating, planning, executing, controlling, and closing the work of a team to achieve specific goals and meet specific success criteria. A project is a temporary endeavor designed to produce a unique product, service or result with a defined beginning and end (usually time-constrained, and often constrained by funding or deliverables) undertaken to meet unique goals and objectives, typically to bring about beneficial change or added value. The temporary nature of projects stands in contrast with business as usual (or operations), which are repetitive, permanent, or semi-permanent functional activities to produce products or services. In practice, the management of these two systems is often quite different, and as such requires the development of distinct technical skills and management strategies.
The primary challenge of project management is to achieve all of the project goals within the given constraints. This information is usually described in a project management plan, which is created at the beginning of the development process. The primary constraints are scope, time, budget and quality. The secondary, and more ambitious, challenge is to optimize the allocation of necessary inputs and integrate them to meet pre-defined objectives.
Project management includes four to five project management process groups, and a control system. Regardless of the methodology or terminology used, the same basic project management processes or stages of development will be used. Major process groups generally include:
- Monitoring and controlling
The initiating processes determine the nature and scope of the project. If this stage is not performed well, it is unlikely that the project will be successful in meeting the business needs. The key project controls needed here are an understanding of the business environment and making sure that all necessary controls are incorporated into the project. Any deficiencies should be reported and a recommendation should be made to fix them.
The initiating stage should include a plan that encompasses the following areas:
- analyzing the business needs/requirements in measurable goals;
- reviewing of the current operations;
- financial analysis of the costs and benefits including a budget;
- stakeholder analysis, including users, and support personnel for the project;
- project charter including costs, tasks, deliverables, and schedules.
After the initiation stage, the project is planned to an appropriate level of detail. The main purpose is to plan time, cost and resources adequately to estimate the work needed and to effectively manage risk during project execution. As with the initiation process group, a failure to adequately plan greatly reduces the project’s chances of successfully accomplishing its goals.
Project planning generally consists of:
- determining how to plan;
- developing the scope statement;
- selecting the planning team;
- identifying deliverables and creating the work breakdown structure;
- identifying the activities needed to complete those deliverables and networking the activities in their logical sequence;
- estimating the resource requirements for the activities;
- estimating time and cost for activities;
- developing the schedule;
- developing the budget;
- risk planning;
- gaining formal approval to begin work;
- planning for communications and for scope management;
- identifying roles and responsibilities;
- determining what to purchase for the project;
- holding a kick-off meeting.
The execution phase ensures that the project management plan’s deliverables are executed accordingly. This phase involves proper allocation, co-ordination and management of human resources and any other resources such as material and budgets. The output of this phase are the project deliverables.
Monitoring and controlling
Monitoring and controlling consists of those processes performed to observe project execution so that potential problems can be identified in a timely manner and corrective action can be taken, when necessary, to control the execution of the project. The key benefit is that project performance is observed and measured regularly to identify variances from the project management plan.
Monitoring and controlling includes:
- Measuring the ongoing project activities (‘where we are’);
- Monitoring the project variables (cost, effort, scope, etc.) against the project management plan and the project performance baseline (where we should be);
- Identifying corrective actions to address issues and risks properly (How can we get on track again);
- Influencing the factors that could circumvent integrated change control so only approved changes are implemented.
When changes are introduced to the project, the viability of the project has to be re-assessed. It is important not to lose sight of the initial goals and targets of the projects. When the changes accumulate, the forecasted result may not justify the original proposed investment in the project. Successful project management identifies these components, and tracks and monitors progress so as to stay within time and budget frames already outlined at the commencement of the project.
Closing includes the formal acceptance of the project and the ending thereof. Administrative activities include the archiving of the files and documenting lessons learned.
This phase consists of:
- Contract closure: Complete and settle each contract (including the resolution of any open items) and close each contract applicable to the project or project phase.
- Project close: Finalize all activities across all of the process groups to formally close the project or a project phase.
Also included in this phase is the Post Implementation Review. This is a vital phase of the project for the project team to learn from experiences and apply to future projects. Normally a Post Implementation Review consists of looking at things that went well and analyzing things that went badly on the project to come up with lessons learned.
- Define and implement the project management plan.
- Build and manage the integrated schedule.
- Establish and oversee project governance, including project risk, compliance, regulatory and software licensing, internal and external communication.
- Establish interlock with business change process.
- Identify and plan around change freeze windows.
- Establish software license requirements and procurement process.
- Prepare work breakdown structure and templates.
Hints and tips
- IT room migrations are complex, highly visible and critical to the business continuity, so
- The project manager must be senior, experienced in IT room migrations and carry internal sponsorship and gravitas.