There is never a guarantee of project success when endeavoring to build a sophisticated application. However, there are established steps to follow that will ensure a clear, concise scope, support for the team involved, and a solid opportunity for successful deployment.
Previous experience has shown many project and technical teams that the keys to failure can be as follows:
* Lack of senior management support and business planning.
* Lack of clear and detailed design specifications.
* Lack of functional specifications which read as a handbook reference for the technical team involved to start writing code.
Writing Your Declaration of Dependence
A project always starts as an idea which generally provides a solution. Often these are drummed up in brainstorming sessions and scratched out onto legal pads or napkins. It is this step which leads to your project charter, or your declaration of dependence.
The key in this phase is to include, from the start, all parties involved, including the most senior managers impacted by this effort. This means the technical team, development manager, project manager, business representatives from the impacted departments, and preferably, the CIO and a non-technical senior management representative.
By utilizing this group in developing the charter, there is unity in the business plan mission for the project from the beginning. This is also the opportunity to better understand the lifecycle on the business side for the developers and for the developers to articulate the process they go through to build the solution. This provides a forum for business users to discuss the processes they use or would use in this application, giving some insight, perhaps, into interface design and application flow. Additionally, the technical team can present the process for moving from design specification to functional specifications to a test-ready application.
A process should also be agreed upon for ongoing status reporting and future resources which will be needed, such as quality assurance staff and alpha/beta testers. Depending upon the timeline, these resources may need to be identified and notified at this stage for budgeting and scheduling purposes.
This completed document defines the entire scope of your project, its mission statement, supporters, reporting processes and the ultimate end result with broad timelines. It also clearly reflects the interdependencies required to successfully complete the initiative.