Hot! Managing Complex IT Projects

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With the world and his wife using IT, IT projects are prolific amongst the business world.  Larger IT projects, that involve the development of and implementation of new or complex systems have been blighted with persistent delays and failures. So, as a project manager what can you do to stack the odds in favor of success?

Following a structured method and working to a plan that is designed specifically around IT projects & systems can help tip the balance in favour of success.  The stages below give an outline of a project lifecycle with just this type of complex IT implementation in mind.

  • Project Feasibility:  This represents the business justification for initiating the project and getting it under way.   A project that is not shown as feasible should not be approved!
    • What does the project feasibility cover?
      • The scope of the project
      • The definition of the approach for delivery
      • Individuals that will be appointed to carry out the work as a part of the initiation of the project along with the significant project management roles that will be involved
  • What are the key decisions here?
    • Is there a viable and worthwhile project and approach?
    • Should the project be allowed to proceed or should it be terminated now?
    • Initiation: This is the starting point of the project that gets the work underway.
      • What does project initiation include?
        • The justification for carrying out the project – this will include the benefits that are expected and any identified risks and issues
        • The scope of the work that will be done and the products/outputs that will be delivered
        • Detail on how and when the projects products/outputs will be delivered
        • How the project will be controlled and monitored
        • Who needs information, how and when – this is the basis of the communications strategy and plan
        • Who are the key stakeholders for the projects and how will their buy-in be secured?
  • What are the key decisions here?
    • Is the project adequately aligned to the organization objectives
    • Is there a workable approach to the management of the project?
    •  Is the project team ready to manage the project?
    • Delivery Strategy: This stage includes the strategy for delivering the project products and includes purchasing/securing any third party products
      • What does the delivery strategy include?
        • The start of any procurement activities
        • Clearly defined business requirements
        • How the projects product will be implemented
  • What are the key decisions here?
    • Has the project initiation stage been completed successfully?
    •  Is the  approach for implementation aligned to the organizational aims and objectives?
    • Design Changes: This allows the project to work out the changes that the successful implementation of the project objectives will bring to the organization.
      • What does the design changes stage include?
        • Stated business requirements have been accepted
        •  Credible plans received from the supplier for the Develop and Test Changes Stage of the lifecycle
        •  The full Business case is approved
  • What are the key decisions here?
    • Is the design fit for purpose?
    • Can the building of the product commence?
    • Develop & Test Changes: This is where building of the main project outputs happens and are tested prior to implementation.
      • What does the develop and test changes stage include?
        • The contractual deliverables have been produced and accepted
        • The appropriate testing is complete
        • Determine that the solution is ready for deployment
        • Is the business ready for implementation?
        • The product is successfully implemented
        • Users are able to access and use the product
  • What are the key decisions here?
    • Has there been an appropriate handover to the relevant Service Management function?
    • Project Closure:  This sees that the project is closed in an systematic way with all project outputs being embedded within ‘business as usual’ activities.
      • What does project closure include?
        • The project team and environment are released for other  work
  • What are the key decisions here?
    • Are there clear activities in place to support and maintain the product ongoing?


Jan Birley

Jan holds a PhD in computing and started out in software development and IT training. She built a strong career as a project and program manager focusing on IT in the Health Service sector. Jan specializes in taking greenfield and immature services/departments to effective business-as-usual operation and is currently responsible for the delivery of clinical assessment forms into a high profile clinical system. Jan has authored 100′s of articles on project-management related topics.


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