This week, we expand on project management in the IT service industry. Successful project management defines the vision for the project and ensures each person that plays a role is aligned in goals, expectations and outcomes.
In last week’s White Board Wednesday video, Brian and Mike spoke high level on project management! They expand on the tenets of project management that NETRIO utilizes that has proved successful for the company.
Mike CromwellSo, Brian, we talked about how regardless of whether it's a simple project that you're deploying or a super complex one, that there's some commonality in specifically eight key tenets or components of a really good project management plan. So can you walk us through what those eight are at a high level?
Brian DeVaultAbsolutely. So step one is project initiation.
Mike CromwellHow would you summarize what you get done in that phase?
Brian DeVaultSo in this phase, you're talking about establishing your overall goals and objectives, roles and responsibilities, the scope of the project, what the deliverables are, your initial project schedule, kind of a straw man or a cursory timeline, a financial analysis and writing your project charter.
Mike CromwellHow long does that typically take?
Brian DeVaultTwo to four days depending on the complexity of the project. Some of these are boilerplate templates, and so they happen much quicker. If you in some cases, you can put this together in two or three hours. So the next step really starts to dig into the details of planning the project. So in that phase, you're going to do things like refine the scope that you defined under the original project initiation because you're learning more as you go. Right? You're going to go through your team selection. So you're going to actually replace a role that may say, you know, project team member with somebody's name. Right. And say now we've got to the point.
Brian DeVaultWe understand who's going to be involved. We're defining our resource requirements. So who's involved and for how long? And maybe that's hours. Maybe that's weeks. Depends on what what the overall goals and objectives are. You're going to start to refine your costs as part of this financial analysis piece. You're going to do that kind of as you go establish that detailed schedule and your detailed timeline, because you really start putting tasks together with their dependencies and say this task starts next week and it's completed in two days.
Brian DeVaultAnd immediately following that task, we can start the next one. You start to introduce some risk planning because you're starting to understand more about the project and where the risks are introduced. And then finally, you're implementing some QA or developing some QA/QC procedures. So the third step in this process is execution. So this is where the fun starts. This is where we start to actually put the rubber to the road. And we're actually beginning the project and we're we're knocking down some of the task that we've outlined in step one and two.
Brian DeVaultSo at this point, we're managing people. We're adhering to the overall project schedule that we've set out. We're coordinating resources. We're conducting those regular meetings, those weekly or biweekly meetings where we bring everybody together and talk about all of these things. And then we're doing a cursory task reviews, you know, so what have we gotten done? When and how does it apply?
Brian DeVaultSo the fourth step is resource leveling and control. And keep in mind, as we go through these, this is Netrio's application of project management methodology. This is not a rule book or a PMP or this didn't come from any document like that. This is something we developed over the course of years. And and what works well for us and we'll work well for for many IT service organization. So in the resource leveling and control aspect of this, you're measuring that ongoing activity. We're looking at performance to budget and performance to schedule, right? So how how well are we sticking to what our original schedule was? And then we're adjusting, you know, and shifting, resourcing that whole resource leavening control. What is that? It's understand it, adjust, manage and apply that to the overall model.
Brian DeVaultSo step five, we're looking at the documentation. Right, and the documentation aspect of any project, right, it's going to you know, it starts at the top and again, these are tenets, these are not done in order or anything like that. So but, you know, as we're talking through project plan, project status reports that are the outcome of those meetings. Right. An important aspect of it is a lot of people will go conduct a project meeting and there's no project status report that comes out of it or even just meeting notes, you know, but you have to memorialize what was said and done and agreed to during those meetings inside some formal piece of communication.
Brian DeVaultSo as we move down the list, number six, risk management. Right. So this is where we're putting that analytical hat on and we're going, OK, of all of these tasks that may be running slightly behind, what risk do they represent to the overall success of the project? And then how do I manage that? So does that mean that I am bringing in the resources and leveling portion of it? Am I my going out and adjusting the plan accordingly?
Brian DeVaultDo I say "I was on the four week side. Now I need to go to the six week side and make sure I set expectations in week number two so that we're not an overall disappointment in the delivery."
Brian DeVaultThe seventh important tenet is communications whether its telephone conference calls, emails, text messages. Whatever you got to do to communicate the status of that project is what you want to do to make sure it's a success.
Brian DeVaultAnd then in the number eight is handoff to long term support, right? So the goal of any of these projects, at least in Netrio, is to execute all of these items with the goal of at some point handing this project off into a it's in a supportable state to long term support. So some of that comes in the form of documentation.
Brian DeVaultWe've got documentation that that our task execution folks produced during this project plan and with the goal of handing this off to long term support to say here's how you support this long term, these here will say items four, three, seven are somewhat dynamic.
Mike CromwellWe can almost draw arrows, because these are, this can be this is where you set the foundation.
Mike CromwellAnd then from here on out, it can be an iterative process.
Brian DeVaultCorrect, If I realize during my risk management assessment, which is constantly applied throughout the course of the execution of the project, that I need to increase my timeline from four to six weeks. That's going to require some planning, right? I included that step number two in there. Yeah, you're absolutely right. 4 through 7 are applied continuously through the process of managing the project and are critical to its overall success.
NETRIO’s 8 Tenets of IT Project Management
1. Project Initiation
During project initiation, there are many steps to take to identify how the project will operate. While there are several bullet points to complete in this first step, each is incredibly important in the overall success of the project. The timeline of project initiation is 2-4 days. In some cases, this can be done more efficiently, while other projects may extend past 4 days. Regardless of timeline, do not rush this step.
- Establish overall goals and objectives
- Identify roles and responsibilities
- Scope of the project
- Pinpoint the project deliverables
- Establish an Initial project schedule
- Estimate the project timeline
- Discuss the financial analysis
- Complete your project charter
2. Planning the project
Once you have defined the bullets from project initiation, it is time to start planning the project. During this step, you will make important decisions like team members who will be on the project, refining cost and continue to refine the detailed schedule.
- Refine the scope
- Team selection, replace role with name
- Defining resource requirements
- Refine costs
- Establish detailed schedule after tasks and dependencies
- Risk planning
- Implementing Quality assurance
After the initial planning phase, it is time to begin executing. This tenet is where you will put the rubber to the road and begin really executing what was outline in tenets one and two.
- Managing people on the project
- Adhering to the schedule
- Coordinating resources according to how the project is going
- Conducting weekly or bi-weekly meetings with the chosen team
- Implement cursory tasks reviews
4. Resource leveling and control
As you begin executing the project, there will be ongoing things that need to be done in order for the success to continue. Those steps include:
- Measuring ongoing activity
- Performance to budget analysis
- Performance to schedule analysis
- Adjusting based on tenets one through three
According to Simpli Learn, documentation must lay the foundation for quality, traceability, and history for both the individual document and for the complete project documentation. It is also essential that the documentation is well arranged, easy to read, and adequate.
6. Risk Management
ProjectManagement.com states, “Project risk management is the process of identifying, analyzing and then responding to any risk that arises over the life cycle of a project to help the project remain on track and meet its goal.” However, it is not only reactionary. That is why Risk Management is also part of tenet one. During this step, you will:
- Assess tasks and risks
- From there, how do we manage that?
We all know communication is vital to the success of any partnership, but it is a non-negotiable on projects. Good communication will allow the project to flow smoothly, keep everyone aligned on progress and ensure timely deliverables. At NETRIO, we used Microsoft Teams for internal and external communication.
8. Hand off to long term support
Now that tenets one through seven are completed, it is time to hand off the project to the team that will maintain the ongoing support. The goal of any project at NETRIO is to complete a project and handoff is a supportable state. The steps we use for project management ensure each project handed off is successful and ready to move on. It is also important to not that steps four through seven can be repeated continuously throughout the project and are critical to success.
This blog post is part of NETRIO’s weekly White Board Wednesday series. Follow along on Linkedin and YouTube each week as Brian and Mike discuss use cases, new technology, and trends. The goal is to provide insights for enterprise customers and channel partners, trying to solve complex problems using technology.