An IS project is one that is managed by a person employed by IS.  The project sponsor and project participants may report to other organizations.  

General approach to projects

The remainder of this page provide basic suggestions for organizing projects and how the various tools and templates on this site may be helpful.

IS Projects have different requirements, depending on their size.  Assess the size of your project and its specific requirements here.

Defining and organizing

  Begin any project by identifying the desired outcome.  Capture, as clearly as possible

  • What is to be accomplished
  • By when
  • At what cost

Identify a named requestor or sponsor able to verify what you’ve captured.  As you discuss your project with your sponsor you will want to further clarify the following:

  • Roles and responsibilities.  You can find project roles and terminology described here. 
  • Stakeholders—who else needs to be involved?  If multiple groups need to be consulted or informed, a RACI chart helps clarify interactions.
  • Scope
  • Business case
  • Risks and dependencies
  • Funding
  • Deliverables
  • Flexibility of scope, schedule and resources
  • How to assess completion and success
  • Long term ownership

The point of this activity is to capture the sponsor's expectations in writing so that there is no confusion surrounding what is to be done.  Even for small projects, the Project Description Sheet (PDS) can be used to remind you of areas to discuss and clarify.  You may skip sections not relevant to your project, and take note of items to be defined later.

Planning

Once you know what is to be delivered, gather your technical team to determine how to complete the expected work.

  • Outline the sequence of events and people involved to accomplish the objective
  • Get high-level estimates of time and effort directly from the people who will be performing the work.
  • Take note of any key milestones, deadlines and major events.
  • Identify potential risks and dependencies.  Risks that you feel are very likely to occur and have significant impact will benefit from proactive planning.
  • Clarify major handoff points.  When one activity is completed, to whom should it be reported?

You’ll want to think about project communication: who needs regular updates, how often, and in what format. Every project is different.

  • You can see a sample project communication plan here
  • It’s a good idea to ask your project team and sponsor how they want to receive and send communication: Email? Regular meetings? A shared document?
  • Don’t assume people know about their task assignments, who to notify when they’ve completed a task, or much about your project at all.
  • If you’ll be speaking to groups about your project, a slideset providing context about the project’s purpose and status is helpful.  A slide template is available here.
  • Larger projects also involve more communication and may involve marketing, support coordination and training. A template for assessing the type of communication, training and support needed and the information that needs to be conveyed is available here.

Discuss decision making: who should be included in making key project decisions.  Small projects often need little more than quick conversations between a few key people, while large projects may require involvement from stakeholder committees or governance boards.  A RACI chart may help.

Tracking Progress

Keep track of project progress on your project and inform interested parties with regular status updates.  You will need to supply a way for project participants to keep you informed of completed tasks or issues and prepare participants for upcoming activities.  You will also want to establish a spot (such as a shared Google folder, shared drive or Sharepoint site) for shared project documentation. 

Regular communcation is critical at this stage.

Managing Change

As the project progresses, take note of changes to scope, schedule and resources and discuss those with your project team and sponsor, since they may require adjusting project costs, milestones or completion dates.  Unintentional scope creep is most easily prevented by clearly documenting the original goals and noting when and why adjustments occur during the course of the project.

Wrapping Up

When your project is completed, review the list of project objectives with the sponsor and project team to verify that they have been met or to obtain agreement about any items left incomplete.  Transfer ownership of any ongoing support and maintenance to support teams and service owners, as appropriate.

Finally, you will formally close the project, capture key learnings and celebrate the contributions made by the project team. A project retrospective survey will help with this activity.

Help!

The IS project management group is happy to help other IS project managers, and we maintain the project section of this web site.  Please contact us if you have questions about managing a project or project information on this site.