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Methodologies

Introduction

The project environment within the Information Technology department is dynamic and fast-paced. Operating within the mission and business activities of the Community College of Rhode Island, IT plays a supporting role in ensuring that ubiquitous, reliable technology is available for all college constituents. This project management website contains definitions, guidelines, and templates for the various activities undertaken to deliver timely IT projects.

Our methodology provides:

  • A common language.
  • More effective and efficient project management.
  • Monitoring of progress against pre-determined metrics.
  • An ability to think through the entire project before starting.
  • A set of best practices over time.
  • Standardized reporting.

The framework establishes common ground for all projects within IT. With the glossary of project management terms, it will also ensure common terminology between the different areas of the college. The long-term intent is to build a project management repository to document best practices, lessons learned, and examples of various documents that may be developed during any project.

Project Development Methodology provides a systematic approach to guiding a project through its life cycle, from inception to post-implementation review. This methodology will provide the essential framework to project development regarding planning, organization, resource allocation, risk management, and acceptance.

The foundation of a sound project development methodology is to provide a mechanism for:

  • Filtering projects for acceptance, in support of the mission and strategic goals of the Community College of Rhode Island,
  • Managing resources relative to current and planned projects,
  • Ensuring successful completion and adoption of accepted projects,
  • Providing timely management reporting and status updates for projects in-flight.

The objective of Project Management Methodology is to ensure that a standardized process is used throughout the project lifecycle in order to avoid steps or processes that waste time and resources or squander productivity while managing risks to the project's planned outcome and successful deployment. As a result, the project will be completed with fewer defects, greater acceptability, shorter delivery times, and better value than projects undertaken without a clearly defined strategy for development and deployment.

Key elements in Project Development Methodology include:

  • Outline of standard phases essential to any project
  • Definition of expected outcomes and significant landmarks
  • Definition of necessary project roles
  • Outline of constraints and assumptions
  • Summary of necessary assets in terms of personnel, equipment and fiscal resources
  • Project schedule of expected milestone delivery/completion dates
  • Assessment of major risks identified to date

While the project development methodology provides the definition of the project life cycle, the decision authority lies with the Project Sponsor and the IT Project Manager.

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Project Classification, Requirements & Risks

A project is a unique venture with a beginning and an end, undertaken by people to meet established goals within defined constraints of time, resources, and quality.

A project typically performs one of these functions:

  • Develop a new system, service or object
  • Make significant improvements to a system, service or object Improve internal processes or introduce new ones
  • Build or significantly enhance infrastructure
  • Research new technology for a specific purpose
  • Scope and plan extremely large efforts
  • Application of major patches and upgrades to software

Some examples of work that are not projects:

  • Daily Production Support Activities
    • System administration
    • System operations
    • Break/fix activities
    • Customer Support
  • Other operational activities that follow a defined process
  • Very small system change requests

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Procedure:

Project Development would typically comprise assessing the impact, cost, benefit and risk of the proposed project, developing a business case, obtaining approval, managing and co-ordinating project implementation, monitoring and reporting on project status, reviewing outcomes and providing a final project review/wrap-up.

The project development procedures include:

  • Development of a project charter with associated financial, procurement, resource, and acceptance planning
  • Analysis of the driving and restraining forces providing motivation for or constraints to the project
  • Approval for the project by the appropriate sponsors
  • Prioritization of the project by the collective advisory group structure
  • Administration of the project through the use of checklists, project plans, budget monitoring, etc.
  • Management of the project through regular meetings of project participants and stakeholders
  • Acceptance of the completed product or outcome in its final form by the Project Sponsor/Owner
  • Review and final report of the project

This written policy for project development defines all roles, responsibilities, and procedures related to project development, approved by the advisory group structure and in accordance with the CIO.

Policies, procedures, and standards should be reviewed periodically (at least annually) by IT management to ensure suitability and completeness.

Templates/documentation standards which have been developed shall be considered a part of this standard of practice and will be used for all IT project initiatives. Further explanation of each of the templates is contained in the Documentation section below.

Roles and responsibilities affecting project development are defined, designated to qualified personnel, communicated to the organization, and enforced throughout the project development process.

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Documentation:

Project Charter (APPENDIX A)

  • Purpose of Template: The project charter provides a statement of the overview, requirements, participants, stakeholders, constraints, assumptions, budget and initial risk assessment for a project. It provides a delineation of roles and responsibilities, outlines project objectives, identifies main stakeholders, and defines the authority of the project manager. The project charter serves as a reference of authority for the future of the project.
  • Project Overview: Describes the purpose, scope and objectives of the project in a business case setting. It also explains the project within the broader vision of the function of the business of the college. Describes the business needs being satisfied by the project.
  • Project Requirements: Outlines the various steps to success of the project and the achievables and milestones to be accomplished. Lists the deliverables to be provided by this project and project outcome. Describes how the results of the project will be measured or considered for acceptance.
  • Assigned Project Manager, Authority and Responsibility: Provides the name of the individual who will oversee this project throughout the project lifecycle. Identifies the alternative and expected stakeholders involved in the evaluation and acceptance process.
  • Organization, Authority and Stakeholders: Provides the coordination areas and the primary duties attached to each. Coordination areas would be those responsible for activities directly and indirectly involved in the success of the project.
  • Constraints: Describes any constraints being imposed on the project, in areas such as schedule, budget, resources, products that must be used or purchased, technology to be used, interfaces, or interdependencies to other products.
  • Assumptions: Describes any assumptions on which this project is based, such as products or technologies to be used, staffing resources to perform/manage the completed project.
  • Summary Resources, Budget, Milestone Schedule Estimates: Provides a summary of the project schedule and budget of the project work breakdown, at a high level. Includes significant deliverables and associated dates.
  • Initial Risk Assessment: Describes the major risks that may be encountered during the project lifecycle. Includes possible mitigation for the impact of the risk, including both preventive actions to reduce the likelihood of the risk and contingent actions should the risk occur.
  • Project Charter Approval and Acceptance: Signature area for approval after review by project sponsor/owner and ITS Supervisor.

Force Field Analysis (APPENDIX B)

  • Purpose of Template: The force field analysis will be provided for the collective advisory groups and IT Directors in order to record all pros and cons for acceptance/rejection of the project and its resultant priority setting decision.
  • Driving Forces: List all forces/factors supporting the change or project.
  • Restraining Forces: List all forces/factors against the change or project.

Sign-Off Document (APPENDIX C)

  • Purpose of Template: The sign-off document is used to confirm approval and acceptance of the completed project.

Project Checklist – (APPENDIX D)

  • Purpose of Template: The project checklist contains items to consider when checking the work of a project team when building a project plan. These checklists are a tool for helping to focus attention on the critical aspects of the project at the different stages of its lifecycle.
  • Description: A short description of the project.
  • Initiation: Answers all the questions pertaining to starting the project.
  • Planning: A series of questions which assure that resources and understandings are in place to guarantee best chance of success for the approved project.
  • Executing: The testing and assurance that the requirements of the stakeholders will be measured accurately and completely.
  • Controlling: A series of control mechanisms to guide the project through its various stages.
  • Closing: Transitioning and acceptance of the project to production.

Project Completion Document (APPENDIX E)

  • Purpose of Template: The project completion document is used to record the Project Sponsor/Owner's satisfaction with the system and/or service and the results it provides.
  • Project Overview: As stated in the Project Charter document.
  • Project Requirements: As stated in the Project Charter document.
  • Project Recap: Summary of the major milestones and events of the project.
  • Project Charter Approval and Acceptance: Acceptance by the Project Sponsor/Owner.

Close-Out Report (APPENDIX F)

  • Purpose of Template: The Close-Out Report signifies the formal completion of the project, after acceptance by the Project Sponsor/Owner. It is an assessment of the overall project, including a review of the results delivered compared to baseline requirements and specifications. It contains a recap of resources allocated and used, scheduled milestones met and date attained, budget projected and actual expenditures, and lessons learned.
  • List of deviations; documented, approved, justified and future action plan.
  • Reference to risk encountered and explanation of how they were handled.
  • Account of the quality controls that describe how quality assurance was involved in this project.
  • Description of the project communication process, its effectiveness and any changes that had to be made to the communications plan during the project.
  • Summary of how customer expectations were managed. Were expectations clear from the beginning? How were expectations different than expected?
  • Describe any open issues and plans for resolution within the context of project closeout.
  • Schedule: Provide milestone schedule results in comparison to the baseline project milestone schedules established in the project charter.
  • Staff Time: Provide actual staffing/time utilization for the project in comparison to the baseline established in the project charter.
  • Costs: Provide cost and budget results of the project in comparison to the baseline established in the project charter.
  • Lessons Learned: Describe the successes, shortcomings, problems, issues and recommendations for any aspect of the project. Describe recommendations for process improvement and any new ideas that were successful in the project. Provide recommendations on how these processes might be adapted into other projects.

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Last Updated: 5/5/11