When I was introduced to the term “Quality” many moons ago I must confess the subject left me cold. It just seemed like a load of reviews and sign offs designed to slow things down. Now I view things a little bit differently, mainly because I am asking myself a different question. You see my business was managing teams to write software applications and most of my “Quality” effort was directed at the processes of the project, making sure things were being followed properly. These things are important but I now think that the first question to ask is “What does good code look like?”
Asking myself that question brings the subject of Quality alive. Good code needs to be performant, maintainable, scalable, secure, reuasable – do you understand my line of thinking here? It takes me into the world of “Architecture” that I will talk about in a following post.
Tagged with: architecture
Posted in Quality
The Steering Committee is formed to monitor the progress and direction of a specific project and to represent the User and IS communities during the decision making process.
Prince2 formalises this further by requiring that “Supplier”, “User” and “Business” are represented on the committee. The distinction between “User” and “Business” is important with the “Business” representative having a value for money accountability.
As a Project Manager you want the Steering Committee to overcome obstacles as they present themselves such as insufficient resources or purchase order approvals. As such the members of the committee need to be sufficiently qualified to overcome such issues in order that the Project Manager can use the leverage that they offer.
In my experience committee members are only too willing to help, providing the Project Manager has articulated the issue in appropriate (often non technical) language.
As a project manager you should know that you cannot make every decision that presents itself during the course of your project. You may know or anticipate that there will be conflicting views amongst your stakeholders concerning approach, priorities or any number of things. In actual fact there are all sorts of reasons why the project manager needs help from the senior managers and directors of your company.
I am tempted to say “all” , but I will play safe and say “most” project management methodologies mandate that a project must have a “Steering Group” – you may call them other things like “Committee”, “Project Board” or whatever. The overriding purpose of this group is to unite the various interested parties in the common aims of the project and to enable effective project governance and decision making.
This diagram shows why it is so important to invest heavilly at the start the project – to set off with achievable objectives and a sensible approach.
This structure was the most valuable insight from my Prince2 training.
I trained as a maths teacher and I thought I should share this important idea with you. One of the most widely used theories in education is that of learning styles developed by Fleming and is known by the VARK model – sometimes shortened and simplified to VAR. Fleming claimed that visual learners have a preference for seeing (think in pictures; visual aids such as overhead slides, diagrams, handouts, etc.). Auditory learners best learn through listening (lectures, discussions, tapes, etc.). Tactile/kinesthetic learners prefer to learn via experience—moving, touching, and doing (active exploration of the world; science projects; experiments, etc.).
3.reading-writing preference learners;
4.kinesthetic learners or tactile learners
The next time you have an important meeting and you need to get your ideas across think about Fleming’ VAR model. Think about how what you say, write and illustrate compliment one another.
Tagged with: communication
Posted in Change
Many of you will recognise the three challenges of Cost, Scope and Timescale – Prince2 add three more for the Project Manager to consider.
One-time costs may include :
(1) Internal and external personnel costs for project activities
(2) Acquisition costs for equipment covering software, hardware that will become part of the system or that will be used to support the system development or training
(3) Operating costs during the project including computer processing time, network charges, space allocations and lease of any special equipment
(4) Transition costs such as: disruption to business processes, special announcements to staff and customers, reorganisation towards new business processes, job redesigns, hiring or reassigning staff.
Tagged with: costs
Posted in Business Case
Ongoing costs are those the company will continue to incur post project. Things such as: training for new users, maintenance charges and licensing, communications. Project management can reasonably control the cost of systems development, but once the system is implemented, responsibility for ongoing costs often transfers to IT line management.
Tagged with: costs
Posted in Business Case
Ongoing benefits are those the company will continue to enjoy after the project has implemented its products.
(1) The implications to business strategies and objectives must be addressed when establishing the business case. These should indicate which benefits the company will find important and value above others. Alignment between IT and business strategies is beneficial – after all, too little alignment would be a source of major risk to any project. I say a bit more about the structure of benefits in a future article, but for now remember that alignment is important.
(2) When a project can be justified on cost savings alone, the business case should be relatively clear. But the opportunity for revenue enhancement or other benefits is critical to the success of the Business Case and therefore the project. IT can make it possible to increase sales of products or services. You may have to work quite hard to convince stakeholders though. Alternatively IT can help improve margins by increasing the revenue received from each product although again there is a need to work with stakeholders.
(3) With management focus on benefits it may be possible to identify quick-wins early on in a project. Weigh up whether going for these quick wins is worthwhile as it may cause the project to lose focus. On the flip side it may build momentum so as I say consider carefully. I am thinking about things like business process change to manual processes which can be done relatively quickly and cheaply.