The first phase of the Project Lifecycle, Initiation, is the initial organization of all parties involved in the project as well as the clarification of project parameters. The following tabs represent the steps included within the Initiation phase of the Project lifecycle. The Initiation phase establishes a Business Case and delivers a Prioritized list of Projects.
The Initiation phase of a project begins with a Project Proposal from someone within the ASU organization for a solution to an issue, or even the documentation of an issue needing resolution. This Proposal is documented through the Project Proposal Form. The Project Proposal form takes about 15-20 minutes to complete. Based upon information presented in the Proposal form, we can get high level estimates concerning the following:
- The project’s Classification (Complexity & Risk Assessment)
- The project’s Impact Score and alignment with strategic goals and objectives of the university
- The Project’s initial Triangle: Time, Scope, Cost
- Relevant Stakeholders to the project
- Human Resources needed for the project
- The Project Type:
- New Academic/ New Administrative/ Upgrade of Current Academic or Administrative/ IT Operations/ Construction
Technology related projects will be managed through standardized project management practices. However, the different processes engaged within each phase of the project lifecycle will be based upon a project’s classification level. As new Project Proposals come in, they are first classified through the Project Complexity and Risk Assessment model which scores factors to determine the project complexity and risk. The Classification Matrix uses this information to determine the Classification Level of a project.
Risk management is an integral part of IT project management, as reflected in the categorization matrix and project scoring mechanisms. Risk has three fundamental elements: a disruptive event; the probability that an event will occur; and the impact should the event occur. Risk is assessed in terms of business continuity and institutional impact, as well as influence on the strategic mission of the entities involved in the project. In rare cases, risk is too great to initiate a project, but typically strategies of risk avoidance, acceptance, mitigation, and transfer are adopted.
Based on the risks identified through the Project Classification process, a project’s risk score is used to help assess the Classification Level (Level 1, Level 2, Level 3) of the project and indicate the project management processes required for the project. Classification Level one indicates that risk will play a very crucial role throughout the project development, planning, implementation, and closeout. A more detailed analysis and documentation of procedures are required to avoid, mitigate, and transfer risks associated with the project. Level two denotes less complex projects with medium-to-low risk and risk is handled as a key project component that influences development, planning, implementing, and closeout. Level three identifies risk as a consideration in development, planning, implementing and is particularly important in the closeout stage. The level of risk dictates the manner in which risk is managed throughout the project cycle, as well as the necessary level of risk management involvement from stakeholders and IT management.
The Classification Level of a project will determine the project management methodologies required or recommended for each phase of the project lifecycle of the project.
All of these high level estimates are used to evaluate the project’s Classification (Complexity & Risk Assessment) against its level of impact to help determine if it is a good project to be implemented.
Texas Project Delivery Framework
The Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR) has identified a Project Delivery Framework for Statewide Project Delivery of Major Information Resources projects. Included within the Project Deliver Framework are documents that are required to be submitted to DIR throughout each phase of the project as it is being implemented. The templates for the required documents are listed below but to ensure you are using the latest version of the document, please see the DIR website.Major Information Resource Projects include those projects:
- Identified in a state agency’s biennial operating plan whose development costs exceed $1 million and either takes longer than one year to reach operation status; involves more than one agency of the State; or substantially alters work methods of state agency personnel or the delivery of services to clients; or
- So designated by the legislature in the General Appropriations Act.
- Such projects are also considered major information resources projects, as defined in Texas Government Code, Chapter 2054.003 910. In addition to local standards, major information resources projects will follow the Texas Project Delivery Framework found at DIR’s website.
For our purposes, projects classified as Level 1 which are also classified as Major Information Resource projects will be required to follow the Texas Project Delivery Framework. Framework documents will be required for each project. They must be submitted and approved by the CIO of the implementing institution before being submitted to DIR.
For projects classified as Level 1 but not as Texas Project delivery Framework Projects, a modified version of the DIR templates will be required to be submitted to the CIO of the implementing institution for approval.
Projects classified as Level 2 will have specific recommended templates for use, but will not be required to be submitted for approval.
Projects classified as Level 3 will not be required to use or submit any of the modified templates or the DIR templates.
Project Impact and Alignment with Strategic Goals and Objectives of the University
To ensure that the Portfolio(s) of Projects support the strategic goals of the University, proper Portfolio Management practices must be followed. By scoring the expected impact of individual projects, new projects can be compared against each other and against projects in the current Project Portfolio (those approved to be implemented and those in the process of being implemented) to determine which combination of projects would best balance the portfolio. This analysis yields the necessary information to determine which projects to halt, which to continue implementing, and which to put in the queue to be implemented.
The criterion used for obtaining the Project Impact Score follows a repeatable method for assessing project impact, calculated based on the weighted average of several factors including, but not limited to, recruitment and retention Impact, increased revenue, customer satisfaction, expanded services, operational efficiency, and cost reduction.
Alignment strength of a proposed project in support of the strategic goals of the University is assessed as well. This information is used to help prioritize proposed projects against each other as well as their importance to balance the portfolio of current projects.
As you review the Project Proposal to determine its importance as a future project, three very key elements to review are the projected Time, Scope, and Cost required to implement the project. Time is the actual time it should take to implement the project. Scope is defined as to what the project will include. Anything not listed within the scope is assumed to be out of scope of the project. Cost usually includes the amount it will cost to purchase hardware, software, implementation services, and or resources to implement the project and sustain it once it has been moved into production.
The goal throughout the Initiation Phase of the project lifecycle is to define, as much as you can, the triangle for the project. At the beginning, the accurateness of the triangle will be somewhere around ±100%.As you end the Initiation Phase and move towards the Planning Phase, the accurateness of the triangle should improve to ±10%.
Communication is one of the main factors determining success or failure of a project. Key stakeholders need to be identified early on in the process to help identify possible issues. Each project will require input and time commitments from resources both internal to the department proposing the project as well as other departments on campus. These stakeholders and resources will become part of the team to help move the project through the Initiation Phase of the Project Lifecycle.
Academic Projects are teaching/learning related such as projects that affect students/faculty: Blackboard, classroom technology, and upgrades or enhancements to software in this category.
Administrative Projects are university business related such as projects that affect the whole campus: Banner, Cashnet, Adirondack, BOSSCARS, CMS, and software upgrades or enhancements like Banner Upgrade, Cashnet Enhancements, CS Gold upgrade, and turning on additional features.
IT Operational Projects are technology projects that mainly affect Information Technology: LabStats, Multimedia classroom monitoring, and server and software upgrades. Many of these projects are required to keep the business operational.
Construction Projects are Information Technology Subprojects of approved Construction Projects.
The proposed project’s Project Type and Classification Level will determine the required project management processes to implement the project once the project proposal has been approved for further investigation.
Once your project proposal has been through the Classification and Impact Scoring process a Proposal Summary Review Form is sent to the appropriate approver for approval to be investigated.
Once it has been determined that a project idea is worthy of being pursued, the Business Justification process can begin.
Information from the Project Proposal, the Proposal Complexity and Risk Assessment, the Proposal Classification, and the Proposal Impact Score are used to create a Project Proposal Summary Review which is sent to the appropriate Approver for review. The Impact Score is graphed against the level of risk of the project as well as the level of complexity of the proposed project to determine if the project proposal is worthy of being pursued. Also included in the Summary is a tentative timeline for the Proposal Summary review, Proposal approval (once the Business Justification has been completed) and a Portfolio Review date. These target dates allow the Project Office to work with individual requestors to ensure each project gets reviewed/ approved in a timely manner. The Proposal Approval signifies that resources can be committed to investigate the proposed project. A Project Manager is assigned to the project based on level of experience and the complexity of the project to begin the Business Justification process.
Approval of the Project Proposal Summary allows us to proceed with the documentation of the Business Case. The Business Case is a document explaining the high level details of the proposed project. Stakeholders are gathered together to discuss the issue needing to be resolved, the possible solutions, if there are mandates associated with the project, risks associated with not implementing the project, the best time to implement, costs and expected benefits to the University. The completion of this document provides enough information for the project to go through the Portfolio Selection and Prioritization process to determine if it is a good fit for the university at this time.
Portfolio management is a continuous business process. Selection and authorization of projects to keep the portfolio balanced is performed annually as a part of continuous strategic planning. Performance monitoring of the portfolio is also a continuous process, as revision of the portfolio mix may be required as strategic goals are changed in support of the mission of the University.
To ensure that the Portfolio(s) of Projects support the strategic goals of the University, proper Portfolio Management practices must be followed. By scoring the expected impact of individual projects, new projects can be compared against each other and against projects in the current Project Portfolio (those approved to be implemented and those in the process of being implemented) to determine which combination of projects would best balance the portfolio. The health of each approved project in the portfolio must be continually monitored to ensure that no single project will affect the health of the portfolio of technology related projects. This analysis yields the necessary information to determine which projects to halt, which to continue implementing, and which to put in the queue to be implemented.
Once it has been determined that a project is worthy of being implemented, the project must be compared to projects currently in the portfolio and others waiting to be added to the portfolio. The comparison is accomplished by assessing the level of risk, complexity, and impact associated with each of these projects and the associated implications of adding new projects to the portfolio. A predetermined “Portfolio Balance” should be used as a criterion for project acceptance and implementation priority within the portfolio. The Steering Committee which consists of the Vice Presidents and Chief Information Officer at ASU, determine the proper balance of the Portfolio; all of whom are well positioned to understand both the strategic and tactical impacts of projects considered for the Information Technology project portfolio.
As projects get prioritized and then as resources become available, the documentation of the Project Plan begins.
Before the project can move into the planning phase of the Project Lifecycle, it must pass through the DIR Project Delivery Framework Business Justification Review Gate. The Review Gate is a series of questions that need to be addressed. Routing and signatures of the Review Gate Document may be required depending upon the Classification Level of the project (see below).
- Level 1 Review Gate Document needs to be completed and submitted to the CIO of the implementing institution for approval
- Level 2 Review Gate Document needs to be completed and submitted to the Project office of the implementing institution for approval
- Level 3 Review Gate Document needs to be completed by the project PM and saved within the project file of the implementing institution.
The project is ready to move into the Planning & Procurement Phase of the Project Lifecycle.