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Developing a draft timeline or schedule along with milestones is extremely important in determining how a project will unfold. The milestones, tasks and dates are all integrated into the final product. The different tools available for this task are widely available and varied. Before creating a project manager should construct and consult a WBS or work breakdown structure to help in understanding his available resources.
“The project schedule is a calendar that links the tasks to be done with the resources that will do them. Before a project schedule can be created, the project manager must have a work breakdown structure (WBS), an effort estimate for each task, and a resource list with availability for each resource. If these are not yet available, it may be possible to create something that looks like a schedule, but it will essentially be a work of fiction. A project manager’s time is better spent on working with the team to create a WBS and estimates than on trying to build a project schedule without them. The reason for this is that a schedule itself is an estimate: each date in the schedule is estimated, and if those dates do not have the buy-in of the people who are going to do the work, the schedule will almost certainly be inaccurate” (Stellman-Greene, 2011).
Risk management is an ever continuing process throughout the life of a project. The project manager and his staff should always be on alert for possible changes and risks to the project plan. When risks do take place they should be addressed immediately and managed appropriately. Contingency plans should be in place to allow the project manager to mitigate the impact of the problem. According to Managing Information Technology Planning for Business Impact, the objective of IT planning is to "provide a road map of the information technology required to support and enhance the business direction of an organization, outlining the resources that are required and benefits that will be realized on implementation of the plan" (Internal Auditor 1999).
The various risk management techniques and tools available make for interesting studies in methodology. Risk management is a process that involves indentifying risk, analyzing and developing the correct and appropriate solution to various scenarios. “The PMBOK has defined Risk as, "an uncertain event or condition that, if it occurs, has an effect on at least one project objective." The objectives are identified during project initiation and include the major elements of scope or deliverables, key milestones, budget constraints, or any other aspect of the project identified as a key success criterion by the stakeholders”(Project Management Guru, 2010).
In this particular example the first risk assessment concerns illness or resignation of a team member had a high probability but low severity. The mitigation response is to make sure the plan has contingencies built into it to allow for less than expected resource availability. The second concerns the circumstance in which a team member becomes unavailable and or a catastrophic event with a medium probability and medium severity, the response is to ensure project procedures that include good knowledge sharing and documentation. The third scenario concerns itself with a change in the business structure and its needs, medium probability and high severity. The mitigation approach is to take incremental steps to adapt the structure to changing business needs, since businesses often change rapidly in their needs so should the software. The fourth scenario assumes that the software solution has major flaws; it has a low probability but high severity. The mitigation response is to use appropriate testing and to fall back to the old system if absolutely necessary. The fifth is an operational flaw in the software with a high probability and low severity. The mitigation approach here is relatively simple, put in place a program to detect early flaws and correct them. The sixth is system failure, high probability and medium severity. The mitigation response is to develop a plan for backup and recovery with redundant contingencies. The final scenario assumes that for some reason the customers and management do not like the software changes, high probability and high severity. The mitigation approach would be to launch a program to convince everyone that the new changes were good and appropriate to the companies needs at the present time and build confidence in the new system.
This risk matrix assumes the risks common to most projects and not the specific problems that may arise. Will the workforce of the company support the new imitative and will management be happy and support the changes? Is this viable as a business solution and what is it dependent upon? All these are questions that need to be asked for a successful new project. “Risk matrices are an invaluable tool for organizations seeking fast, effective and practical risk assessment processes but they cannot be used in isolation. Much of the criticism regarding risk matrices has been related to attempting to use them without establishing the broader parameters of the risks being considered” (Talbot, 2011).
There are three major milestones in this project. The First Milestone occurs at the beginning of the project and signifies acceptance of the idea of the new plan. The Second Milestone occurs after the acceptance of the Charter and the Final and Last Milestone signifies the completing of the actual implementation of the new software.
There are many questions to be asked in a project including how much will this project cost and is it still on budget? How much time was spent factoring the appropriate resources and costs? These are all relevant questions that must be addressed for a successful and profitable endeavor.