Information technologies have changed all spheres of human activity; all companies nowadays need to have a website and to work with customers or suppliers online. The need for own IT infrastructure and online presence leads to the increase of information technology projects. These projects should be effectively managed. According to Schwalbe (2010), the analysis of projects in IT sphere shows that more than half of such projects fail, and only 2.5% of companies manage to complete their IT projects within the given scope, cost and time goals (Schwalbe, 2010). This statistics for IT projects is conditioned by the overall complexity and mutability of IT technology along with the uniqueness of most new IT solutions; compared to other project management areas, IT is more flexible and more challenging, and therefore, project management in this sphere should be adjusted to these features of this area of expertise (Atkins et al., 2011). The purpose of this report is to evaluate the experience of working on an information technology project devoted to the creation of a website for Shine On company, to analyze overall process of managing the project and consider personal contribution to the project, along with professional experience and the implications of this work for future professional activities.
1. Project overview
The initial task was to develop a multimedia website for the company called Shine On. There were five members in the team: Scott Swales, Tom Taylor, Andy Craig, Chris Regan and Georgiades Panayiotis. Team members were supposed to manage the project and to take part in the project implementation; it was also allowed to invite other professionals for project management and implementation when needed. The project should have been planned and implemented “from scratch”ť, starting with gathering requirements from the client, ending with website launch and presentation.
After several collaboration sessions, the team identified the following stages for the project: gathering requirements for the project, project planning, project execution (which included such sub-stages as wire frames, design, front end templates, back end templates, creation of content, front and back end implementation, validation and testing), website submission to search engines and closing of the project followed by project presentation. All members of the team actively participated both in managing the project and implementing it, and external professionals were invited to assist with the project when it was necessary.
2. Search evaluation
In the process of completing the project, I had to review and read literature on project management, management of IT projects and management of multimedia projects in particular; the literature on graphic design and database design along with practical advice was also used. In addition to this, I had to read more on team working and searched for sources with recommendations for the improvement of own management skills.
With regard to project management methodology, at the start of the project our team focused on the traditional approach to project management. In the context of this approach, the following phases of the project can be identified: initiation, planning and design, execution and implementation, monitoring and controlling systems and completion (Kerzner, 2009). I also reviewed literature on gathering project requirements for projects (e.g. Bergman & Moore, 1990; Hartweg, 2002; Young, 2006), and identified the following important areas: problem, audience, task/needs and environment (Young, 2006). The requirements were gathered for each of these areas.
A particularly challenging question for me was the distribution of roles and responsibilities, and I have identified a useful tool for solving this problem: RACI matrix (responsible, accountable, consulted, informed) (Haugan, 2011). With the help of RACI matrix, the tasks and roles for our team members were successfully assigned using a step-by-step assignment process. One key problem in the process of assigning roles was the diversity of the skills of project members and the concentration of the need for particular skills within specific timeframes. Adding three professionals to participate in project implementation partly helped us solve this problem.
During the first phases of the project, we developed project plan and schedule with the help of Microsoft Project. I read a tutorial devoted to Microsoft Project prior to working with this software, because, despite its convenient design and effective usability, this product has numerous features and complex functionality, and it is difficult to set all project requirements, resources, schedule and other variables without certain prior experience with MS Project.
At the first stages of the project, we were using Critical Path Method for scheduling project activities. After reading literature on project management in IT, I have identified that it would be effective to apply critical chain project management to our project (CCPM), because our key resources were people with required skills, and successful completion of tasks was strongly related to the availability and skills of relevant people (Haugan, 2011). Resources were leveled in the project, but aggressive duration which is common for CCPM was not applied due to the time constraints. In the bottleneck situations with high workload, other professionals (developer, junior web developer and graphic designer) were added to assist with project implementation.