Industry Expert Viewpoint: SMART IT Project Planning for Success

This post was written by one of our Industry Experts, Erick Simpson, VP and CIO of SPC International.  

The Project Management Process

One of the 3 Service Delivery areas a Solution Provider can become very profitable in; or tremendously unprofitable, is in Project Management.

If the Solution Provider’s Project Management processes are solid and delivered effectively, their project outcomes will have the best chance to meet their established criteria for success. If; however, the Provider’s Project Management processes are weak or non-existent, it will be very difficult to manage timelines, schedules and resources along with change and communications. This will effectively erode customer satisfaction, profitability and the opportunity for additional services.

As the person responsible for overall project success, the Project Manager participates in the Solution Provider’s professional service delivery process, and creates project plans that include activities, phases and timelines, and schedules and assigns resources to deliver all project-based services. In addition, the Project Manager manages every aspect of project delivery from the project kick-off meeting through provisioning, implementation, go-live and sign-off.

Project Planning

Once a prospect or customer has agreed to the Project Proposal and its Terms, the Project Manager can begin the process of planning for Project Implementation. Project Planning is the first component of Project Management, which is defined as the effective organization and management of resources to insure a Project’s completion within its defined scope, timeline and budget. Project Planning includes the following:

  • Definition of the Project Scope
  • Methods to be utilized during Project Implementation
  • The Identification of all tasks to be completed during Project Implementation
  • The creation of a timeline and expected duration for each task’s completion
  • The estimation and allocation of resources for each task’s completion
  • Managing Risk, Change and the Communications and Status Reporting processes
  • Determining the criteria for success of each phase and the overall Project
  • Incorporating Phase and overall Project Review
  • Managing individual Phase and overall Project Acceptance

Project Objectives

The overall Project objectives that the Project Plan must insure are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Time-bound

The evaluation of the Project’s success at meeting these objectives occurs at the Project closure; however, effective Project Management increases the potential for their attainment.

Once the Project Plan has been created, it is presented to the customer in order to:

  • Receive approval of the overall Project Plan
  • Verify the Project Schedule against the customer’s calendar
  • Identify and allocate customer resources required for Project Implementation
  • Agree to Roles, Responsibilities and Task Assignment between all parties
  • Agree upon the Risk Management Plan
  • Agree upon the Change Control process
  • Agree upon the Communication and Status Reporting process
  • Agree to the criteria for success of individual phases and the overall Project
  • Agree to final Acceptance Criteria

In order to move to the implementation phase of the Project, it is important that the customer approve the overall Project Plan, which includes the Project Scope, the methods utilized during Project Implementation and the Project timeline and schedule. In addition, customer resources such as staff and vendors may be required as assets during Project Implementation, and their involvement must also be approved by the customer.

An effective Risk Management Plan will support Project Implementation as a contingency strategy should the need to roll back during any phase of the Project becomes necessary, and a Change Control process is required, should additional tasks or services outside of the agreed-upon Project Plan and Proposal need to be authorized by the customer to insure Project completion.

A solid communication and status reporting process must be agreed to by all parties in order to keep all affected resources including the customer apprised of Project status at all times and facilitate effective decision-making throughout the lifecycle of the Project.

Accountability to tasks and their timely completion can only be enforced once all resources have agreed to their roles and responsibilities, as well as to Project milestones and timelines.

Kaseya Industry Experts are some of the best and brightest professionals in their areas of expertise, ranging from IT Operations, to Service Provider Sales, Service Management Best Practices., and more.  

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