Thursday, November 22, 2007

Project Success Basics

Large sums of money are spent along with many man-hours to establish frameworks and processes that will give a software project a fighting chance of success.

However, there are fundamental (and less costly) measures that should be put into place first, as recommended by the Standish Reports:

The project manager must have the full backing of executive management. This requires a qualified executive decision (selecting the right project manager) by someone who knows the nature and abilities of their project manager, and a continued and close interaction with them during the project.

The business users must be involved during the entire project. Whether or not they give clear cut specifications, change their minds, etc., a sure way to hinder the success of a project is to lose touch with the people who came to you for assistance in the first place.

Specifications are clear-cut and achievable. At times it is all too easy to push fuzzy and unreasonable specifications over to the development staff, and then watch them fumble. Management must insist that the requirements are clear, and reasonable.

Responsibility and accountability: Each team member must have a clear understanding of their roles and duties. Perhaps most importantly, the project manager must be given the authority to manage (see the first item in our list), since they will certainly get the blame if things go wrong. The project manager cannot be someone who just keeps a project diary or maintains the schedule.

These are just a few of the fundamental principals that must be followed in all projects, regardless of the management software and tools that are used.

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