The Project Management Methodology

The project management methodology for our IT projects is consistent with both PMBOK of PMI and ISO21500:2012 in that all projects would be divided into Five Process Groups. They are the process group of project initiation, planning, execution, control & monitoring, and finally closing.

During project initiation, a business problem, need, or opportunity is identified. Then a preliminary study will be conducted to investigate the feasibility and justification of the project. The study result should be recorded in a Project Charter if the project can be proceeded. The key output of project initiation will certainly be a sponsor-approved Project Charter, which contains the relevant facts, high level project plans, and preliminarily estimated budget of the project. In order to simplify the paper work of small projects, there is a concise Project Charter Lite Form for those projects with project duration less than six months, projected manpower less than six person-months, and project size less than one million Hong Kong dollars.

The next process group of the project is project planning. The planning process involves the use of the planning tools and techniques, such as work breakdown structure (WBS), critical path method (CPM), project evaluation and review technique (PERT), and etc. A project management plan is necessary for any project. The project scope, time, and cost baselines should be part of the project management plan. It is especially essential for a large project, such as a project that will last for more than a year. Our project management plan template is designed based on the IEEE standard for software project management plans (IEEE Std. 1058-1998).

Project Execution and Project Control & Monitoring are simultaneous and recursive processes until the Project Closure. In which, all projects should execute the activities as designed by the project plan and produce a monthly project progress report for management review and risk management. For any issues that will affect the project scope, time, or budget, formal change requests should be issued, processed, and approved by the sponsors. Whenever the target deliverables of a project are completely produced and verified, or the project is terminated by the discretion of the sponsor, the project should go through the processes of the project closure. Project Closing involves the process of user acceptance of all project deliverables, submission of operation and contingency manuals of the delivered product if any, closing all contracts if any, post project review and reporting, and finally compilation and archival of all project documents and artifacts.

To enhance the competency of project management, the experience of completed or failed projects is vital to the knowledge and service of the Central IT. The lessons learned should be documented and filed as parts of the project management practices and asset. Thus, documentation, suggestions, and action plans due to the lessons learned from projects should be discussed and reported through the final meeting of Post Project Review. They are the valuable reference of the subsequent projects.

PM Methodology vs. IT Project Lifecycle

IT projects are often governed by Software Development Lifecycle methodologies (SDLC). The common SDLC methodologies include Waterfall, Unified Process, and Agile Process. Waterfall basically includes five main processes. They are Requirement Analysis, System Design, Development, Testing, and finally Installation. Unified Process has only four phases. They are called as Inception, Elaboration, Construction, and Transition. Agile Process is an incremental development methodology. It simply divided by multiple iterations and governed by some robust agile disciplines. In the iteration zero (i.e. before any iterations of software development), it is equivalent to project planning. Then, the later iterations are the combined process of project execution, control, and monitoring. At the end of each iteration, there is a closing process to accept the deliverables, review the lesson learned, and plan for the next iterations. The methodology choices depend on the nature of project, business need, environment, and particular demand. They can be integrated into the Project Management Methodology. The following table is a simple mapping of IT development methodologies against the PM methodology.

PM Methodology Waterfall SDLC Unified Process Agile Process
Project Initialization All projects require a business case, need, or problem to trigger the conception of a new project followed by a preliminary study of the feasibility and justification of the project.
Project Planning Requirement Analysis Inception Iteration 0 (before any iterations)
Project Execution System Design,
& Construction
& Releases
Project Control
& Monitoring
Project Closing Installation Transition Accept & Review