Defining the project You have presented your project proposal and you have the go-ahead to start the project. Before you start you need to ensure everyone

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Defining the projectYou have presented your project proposal and you have the go-ahead to start the project. Before you start you need to ensure everyone is singing to the same song sheet! It would only take one of your stakeholders to have a slightly different idea of what the project should achieve, and you could have a serious problem on your hands.

You need everyones agreement on what the aims of the project are and how the success of the project is going to be measured. This can all be done by what is known as a definition of scope. Before we go into what a definition of scope is we need to look closely at the project life cycle.

The project life cycleYou may have come across the system life cycle at GCSE, well the project life cycle is very similar. It allows us to form a view of the stages a project needs to go through to allow for successful completion.

The project life cycle phasesThe project life cycle is a series of activities sorted into five or six chronological phases. The six phases can be labelled concept, definition, design, development, handover and management. The project is usually considered complete once the project has been handed over. At this stage the project managers job is over and he or she has little to do with the management phase, except that many of the management procedures agreed for the running of the completed project will have been written during the design phase.

Concept The concept phase of the life cycle is essentially thinking about what the overall aim of the project is. An idea is conceived and investigated until such time as the project takes shape, i.e. we have identified a situation where a project could be of benefit to someone, we have identified who is involved and have put forward a few ideas on how to proceed.

Definition This phase is what we are about to do. We are going to find out exactly what our project should achieve. We are also going to decide what our success criteria are; what would constitute a successful project?

Design It is tempting to think of the design phase of the project life cycle as being the actual designing of whatever it is we are producing (i.e. sitting in front of the computer designing software). Although this is part of what we will have to do, we have to actually design the project itself. Planning the project on a theoretical level (what will our product do, and how?)

Development As part of your project you will be creating something to do with ICT i.e. a spreadsheet or a database system, or a multi-media exercise. A key part of the development section is the building of the system or exercise. In the real world this would mainly be done by other members of the team. As project manager your job now would involve you reviewing the plan at regular intervals and adjusting it to take into account of unforeseen circumstances. In the case of this project you will be involved in the building of the system or exercise.

Handover This is often the phase of the project that is forgotten about, and is very much more than just simply saying to the customer here you are, the finished product. Your customer needs to feel confident the system works and will not let them down. They will need to be involved in the testing of the system and they will need to be able to implement the changes/new system in a way that will protect them from disaster.

A phased introduction of the system is advisable. This is called parallel running where old and new run alongside until confidence in the new system is raised.ManagementThe project should be over at the handover point, though some of the deliverables at handover could be any documentation relating to this stage such as user guides.System life cycle phasesAs with the project life cycle the system life cycle follows much of the same sequence, though once again the titles of the phases and even the number of phases will vary depending on who you talk to. The traditional systems life cycle is often cyclical, the idea behind this is that if and when there is a problem the whole process can start again.

For our purposes we will have the following phases for the system life cycle identification, feasibility study, analysis, design, implementation and maintenance.

ActivityIdentify both life cycles for your project and display diagrammatically. Then combine the two cycles together.Producing the definition scopeWhat it should contain Purpose of the project (scene setting)Benefits to the organisationObjectives of the projectKey success criteriaDeliverablesConstraintsAreas of riskProject roadmapsProject resourcesTarget completion dateThe initial plan the project roadmap

GANTT chart vPERT chart Both are good ways of diagrammatically presenting data

ActivityCreate a leaflet explaining what PERT and GANNT are and how they can help project planningSetting parameters

(i.e. Setting a project start date and working times)


Schedule your project. Set start date and working times. Checking timetable carefully! Enter any holiday times and dates where you wont be working.