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Devise the Project Plan

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As described earlier in the chapter, project management is an important mechanism for controlling a systems development project. Control of a project becomes more important as the risks of failure increase. These risks, many of which are discovered during the feasibility study, include:

• Project size - both absolute and compared to other IT projects - as measured by staffing, costs, time, and number of organizational units affected. Projects that involve reengineering and/or the installation of an enterprise system are normally larger than those that do not.

• Degree of definition. Projects that are well defined in terms of their outputs and the steps necessary to obtain those outputs are less risky than those that require user and developer judgment.

• Experience with technology. Risk increases as the organization’s experience with the relevant technology decreases.

• Organizational readiness. This aspect of operational feasibility addresses the organization’s experience with management of similar projects, as well as management and user preparation for and commitment to this project.

Although project management cannot address all of these risks, it is an important element in minimizing their impact. If the preliminary feasibility evaluation indicates that further analysis of the problem is warranted, the analyst devises a project plan. A project plan is a statement of a project’s scope, timetable, resources required to complete the project, and the project’s costs.

The systems survey’s planning aspect is so important that the systems survey is often called “systems planning.” The project plan includes a broad plan for the entire development, as well as a specific plan for structured systems analysis - the next development step.
We develop a project plan:

• To provide a means to schedule the use of required resources. What personnel and funds will be required and when?

• To indicate major project milestones to monitor the project’s progress. Is the project on schedule? Has the project provided the required deliverables?

• To forecast the project budget, which is used to authorize project continuation? Given the project’s progress to date, should additional funds be expended for this step? For the next step?

• To furnish guidelines for making a go or no-go decision. Are the costs and benefits as projected? Is the utilization of these resources in the best interest of the organization at this time?

• To offer a framework by which management can determine the reasonableness and completeness of the project’s steps. Is there a complete list of tasks, and are these tasks properly matched with the required skills? Are the proper information sources being investigated?

We use a combination of diagrams, schedules, and other project management tools to develop and document the project plan.