Most Project Managers come up through the ranks of an Information Technology (I.T.) department. They have mastered coding, testing. This experience helps prepare them to run projects, but there are still many unknowns for the new Project Manager. The official project request they receive is typically a vague, one-page list of objectives. In addition, I.T. Management cannot afford the time to guide the new Project Manager each step of the way. This paper will assist them in the initial stages of a project.
Defining the Project: Purpose
The first step in any project is to determine the purpose of the project. The project purpose should be a simple statement that is the guiding principle of the project. For example:
The purpose of this project is to reduce the amount of time it takes to enter an order.
Defining the Project: Requirements
With the purpose in mind, the requirements for the project should be set. Often, the users will need to be contacted to clarify the requirements from their initial project request. The requirements should be in business terms, relate to organizational requirements, and be broken down by functional area. For example:
* Improve the response time in Order Entry to improve customer service (Order Services Department)
* Give the sales force the ability to enter orders while at the customer site to improve customer service (Sales Department)
* Decrease the learning curve for new Order Entry Clerks to improve customer service and reduce training costs (Order Services Department)
In each example, "improving customer service" is the organizational requirement that the project requirement relates too. The department (in parenthesis) represents the functional area responsible for the requirement from the user standpoint; the Project Manager is always responsible from the I.T. standpoint.
An option in defining the project is to create a high level Operational Concept. This document defines a flow or process in which the end user produce will be used. This concept will help the project team understand the end need and intent.
Defining the Project: Scope
Once the requirements of the project have been determined, the project scope must be set. This process determines which requirements to accomplish, given the constraints of time and resources. Although this is the "official" time for scope determination, in reality, it is ongoing throughout the project. Resources may unexpectedly leave the project, new deadlines, and additional functionality requests ("scope creep") will all affect scope. The Project Manager must manage this process to keep the project from spiraling out of control.
Using the examples from the Purpose and Requirements sections on the previous page, the project team and users may decide that the requirement of giving the sales force the ability to enter orders is not feasible at this time. The fact that this requirement will not be...