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October 7, 2010

Outbound Stakeholder Communication

You have to decide on a good communication toolset at the start of your project. It is important to use some collaboration tool as people have a tendency to not read emails, or delete files accidentally off a shared drive. I have successfully used Sharepoint and Documentum in my past projects. You can set up shared folders with read only versions of files that are accessible to all stakeholders. Alerts can be set to trigger when any document is changed. I prefer all documents to be in pdf format, there are lot of freeware pdf creation tools available on the internet if you don’t have one already.

Posted by Sanjay Akhare at 2:30 PM | Comments (4787)

October 6, 2010

Stick a fork in it, its done (or is it?)

Typically, the budget for your project has already been set in a prior budgeting cycle where the business has justified the return on investment for the effort. Budgeting is based on estimates of how much a similar project cost in the past. No one can accurately estimate cost before the start of the project. It is simply a matter of figuring out how much of the requested deliverable can fit into the available budget, and then adjusting scope accordingly.

The first thing to do is to create a scope document and obtain business approval. You will list the objectives of the project, how the future state will differ from the current state, the list of stakeholders, and the success criteria. The scope document is different than a requirements document; it is a high level summary in business terms of what is being done, and what the benefits will be in measurable terms.

One common mistake at this stage is not identifying the stakeholders correctly. Many a time, you think you have determined the stakeholders, only to find out at the end that the listed stakeholders won't approve the project unless John signs off on the results. Since John has not been involved from the start of the project, your testing phase will continue almost indefinitely causing your project to almost certainly move into the red.

A second omission is not identifying the success criteria clearly in check list format. Your project is complete when you can check off all the entries in your success criteria at the end of the project. Often, the user community cannot articulate what the criteria should be; it is up to the consultant to ensure that there is no ambiguity as to when the project is deemed complete. You do not want to spend months on a project building it exactly to spec, only to realize that no one is using it because it does not meet their needs.

The project is truly successful when the user community has adopted your project deliverable and has started realizing the benefits.

Posted by Sanjay Akhare at 11:30 AM | Comments (1051)

October 5, 2010

Introduction to my blog

A project is a unit of work with a specific purpose and a defined end point. It can be a stand alone effort or part of a larger program spanning multiple years. It can be real time or batch, operational or analytical. The company you work for can be at one of many different levels of technical maturity relating to the subject matter of your project. Corporate culture plays a big role in success of the project, as does senior management support. Organizations can be hierarchical or matrix, project teams can be comprised of employees and/or contractors from multiple vendors, often distributed nationally or even across the world. Individual contributors have different cultural backgrounds, skills, motivations and agendas that can ensure success or sidetrack the project at every corner. This blog is a collection of my personal thoughts and opinions based on experiences managing data warehouse projects over the last few years.

Posted by Sanjay Akhare at 1:45 PM | Comments (11)