“Project Management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to project activities in order to meet or exceed stakeholder needs and expectations from the project.” (Guide to the Project Management Book of Knowledge, 1996)
Project Management in Insight (Stylus)
Defining project success before you start requires critical and conceptual thinking. A project can be conceived as a measured chain of achievements and this chain is created by starting at the end of the project. This last achievement in a project is what defines the success of the project. This measurement is not just a deliverable and a due date, it is instead a strategic result that needs to be defined with clear consultation with the stakeholders.
A project manager at Insight plans and monitors projects to accomplish goals within predictable quality, cost and time. The aim is to build and deliver solutions that exceed customer expectations using well-defined, reliable, flexible, economical and adaptable processes from end-to-end in our business cycles.
Let’s talk about what project management is all about.
Initiation and definition phase: The problem is identified, available solutions are studied, potential solutions determined and a project brief is created in this stage. A decision is made to outsource or work on the project internally. As may be the case, the service provider and the team members are then identified.
The project scope defines the vision and the end-results of the project. A needs analysis document will gather detail information like target audience, technology profiling, budget and schedule, staffing and risks. A project scope or proposal document is then developed as a detailed proposal for meeting project needs. The next step is to then negotiate and sign a contract and select a team to work on the project. A project plan is then developed. It contains a description of the project management activities that will be necessary for the execution and control of the project. To understand our development process in detail, click here.
Some of the major roles that a project leader/manager plays are in areas like:
Team management: The project leader/manager aims to create an atmosphere of a cooperative and effective team culture. Team management includes all the processes that are needed to identify and secure an effective project team. Determining where the requisite staff can be obtained and then identifying the roles and responsibilities of each team member, how they communicate with each other and build the necessary rapport, undergo training if necessary, resolve conflicts and monitor performance levels are necessary to ensure the effectiveness of the team.
Communication management: Effective communication in a project between all the stakeholders and the project team is imperative as it ensures that the stakeholders gain and maintain a clear understanding of the status of project’s progress. This could either be a weekly report on the status, on the risks involved, the schedule and the budget status and can be in a documented format or handed out or reported in a meeting. At Insight, we hold information meetings every Monday where all the projects are reported about and explained. This also ensures that the entire organization is aware of all that happens on the projects and project-related activities within the organization.
Risk Management: The project plan usually contains a risk plan that describes strategies and methods used to identify and avoid risks throughout the life cycle of the project. All kinds of risks are identified here – business risks that are associated with the nature of the work done or the client and the target environment, risks within the project and the team environment and finally technical risks involved with the system or other aspects of the technology of the application.
Outsource your Software and Web Development Projects to insight
We’ve been in the business of software and web application development for the past six years and our services include custom software development, website design & development, web application development, web enabling legacy systems, website maintenance and elearning solutions.
Our Value Proposition – our development methodology, our project management skills and adherence to high- quality and low risk solutions. Contact us here if you are interested in outsourcing projects to Insight.
Configuration management: In any project, many versions and files are created during the project and thus increasing the number of versions and components of the product. It is important to identify and track these versions and document how any changes made to these documents will be handled and reported. All project documentation; project hardware and software and project outputs are placed under project management.
Quality management: Evaluation and testing activities contribute to how the final deliverable in a project adheres to relevant standards. Quality of a package or deliverable doesn’t mean checking it at the end and ensuring that it is bug free. It also means quality is tracked right through the project. A quality management plan is developed at the beginning of the project and a quality check representative is assigned to a project at the beginning of the project.
Quality assurance implies that the project and its various phases are continually tracked and evaluated. Different kinds of projects undergo various kinds of evaluation and testing procedures.
Project Time management: Developing procedures to manage activities and the schedule of a project involve giving a detailed schedule at the project definition stage. A work breakdown structure is developed based on the proposal in the project scope document and agreed to in the project contract.
There are a range of project management techniques that are used to manage and track time, resources and tasks in a project. At Insight, we use an in-house software called Operations Management System that doesn’t just help manage projects, but also functions as an employee relationship management tool.
Cost Management: To ensure that the costs are maintained during the project, the project manager with the help of the client requirements capture team proposes the budget and the resources involved in the project at the beginning when the scope of the project is defined. These budgets and schedules are reviewed at regular intervals, especially when deliverables are iteratively defined in a project.
The Project Brief is likely to contain:
- A statement of the teaching and learning problem.
- A summary of the intended outcomes of the package you are developing.
- A brief description of the selected potential solution.
- Reasons why the solution has been selected.
- A discussion of how you think this solution will actually work to solve the problem.
- A discussion of other available solutions, their strengths and weaknesses.
- A description of who will benefit from the solution and how.
An analysis of the views of these stakeholders.
Our project leaders follow a well-established project leadership process that begins from a complete preplanning of the project to defining the scope, mission, resource announcements, deliverable definitions and a common plan. What a PL does is to give a strategic direction to the project.
During the execution of the project, in addition to monitoring deadlines, tasks, constraints, resources, the Project leaders also check on the goals, issues, key learning areas, alerts and team dynamics. They plan and deploy periodic check-ins and conclude by posting a project review, decide on appropriate rewards and recognition. In other words, they play the role of a process director.
The PL also keeps a journal that records all issues. The OMS or operating management system is our very own in-house project management software that acts as MS Project, Outlook, Calendar and was designed and created in-house and is used by every employee in the organization.
We are a process-centric organization and strive to optimize our processes and achieve maturity levels that would make us part of elite organizations that have achieved the same worldwide.
What measures a process is it’s flexibility, the number of iterations it goes through and the predictability of its deliverables. Processes in Insight today are approaching SEI CMM level 3 in maturity. We have tailored the existing defined processes to suit client requirements and organizational goals. Our goal for the next few years is to establish an infrastructure that institutionalizes effective software engineering and project management across the organization.
A Mature Process
- How can an organization tell that its processes are improving?
- Chaos levels are reduced
- Surprises are handled in a preplanned manner
- Common understanding of roles in the organization
- Work from different groups doesn’t conflict.
- Risks are at a non-threatening level
- Predictions and revisions are made with confidence
What is SEI? CMM?
SEI = ‘Software Engineering Institute’ at Carnegie-Mellon University; initiated by the U.S. Defense Department to help improve software development processes.
CMM = ‘Capability Maturity Model’, developed by the SEI. It’s a model of 5 levels of organizational ‘maturity’ that determine effectiveness in delivering quality software. It is geared to large organizations such as large U.S. Defense Department contractors. However, many of the QA processes involved are appropriate to any organization, and if reasonably applied can be helpful. Organizations can receive CMM ratings by undergoing assessments by qualified auditors.
Level 1 – characterized by chaos, periodic panics, and heroic efforts required by individuals to successfully complete projects. Few if any processes in place; successes may not be repeatable.
Level 2 – software project tracking, requirements management, realistic planning, and configuration management processes are in place; successful practices can be repeated.
Level 3 – standard software development and maintenance processes
are integrated throughout an organization; a Software Engineering Process Group is is in place to oversee software processes, and training programs are used to ensure understanding and compliance.
Level 4 – metrics are used to track productivity, processes, and products. Project performance is predictable, and quality is consistently high.
Level 5 – the focus is on continuous process improvement. The impact of new processes and technologies can be predicted and effectively implemented when required.