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Project Management Standard

Scope and Purpose

This Information Technology Project Management Standard defines Information Technology Projects and sets the standards for managing these projects according to the best practices of the Project Management Institute.  It is intended to provide clear guidance and procedural steps for leading an Information Technology project from its initial proposal through the project's close-out.

Definition of an Information Technology Project

Technology projects are categorized as Major or Non-major.  Major Information Technology Projects are defined as information technology projects that (i) are mission critical, (ii) have statewide application; or (iii) have a total estimated cost of more than $1 million.  Non-major Information Technology Projects are those technology projects with a total estimated cost greater than or equal to $100,000 and less than $1 million, that are not mission critical, and do not have statewide application.  Information Technology Projects with a total estimated cost less than $100,000 can be managed at the university unit level, and use of the best practices contained in the PM Standard is strongly encouraged, but not required.   Faculty research projects funded by grants are not subject to this standard but if the project requires Information Technology resources or impacts the Information Technology operation of the university than it is strongly recommended that a project management methodology be followed.

Information Technology Project Management Office (PMO)

The Project Management Office within IT at William & Mary provides management oversight and guidance for IT's entire project portfolio. The PMO performs three roles: first, the PMO facilitates the project proposal and selection process with the aid of the Project Management Oversight Committee (PMOC); second, the PMO serves as a central repository for the storage of project documentation; and, third, the PMO is responsible for ensuring that appropriate Project Manager training is available to project managers in IT.

Project Management Oversight Committee (PMOC)

The Project Management Oversight Committee (PMOC) is charged with reviewing project proposals, evaluating a project's complexity, and ultimately approving or disapproving project proposals. For more complex projects the PMOC will evaluate project plans prior to execution and may assume additional responsibilities including, but not necessarily limited to, securing a third party to perform independent validation and verification (this is a requirement by the Commonwealth of Virginia for projects costing over $1 million dollars). The PMOC may change from project to project.

Project Management Methodology

This section describes the project management processes that all IT projects must follow.  The methodology is closely aligned with the lifecycle an information technology project typically undergoes. The lifecycle is comprised of four distinct yet often overlapping phases. Each phase has at least one deliverable due which marks the end of the phase. The four phases of a project's lifecycle are the Proposal phase, the Planning phase, the Executing/Controlling phase, and the Closing phase. As stated, the phases are distinct and sequential but can have significant overlap and reiteration during an actual project's lifecycle. The table below presents each project phase along with the key activities, milestones, and deliverable required.

Project Phase Key Activities & Milestones Deliverable
Project Initiation ·Develop project business case
·Identify key stakeholders
·Project team meets to set expectations, define scope, and develop proposal
·Initial complexity assessment
·Proposal review by PMOC
Project Proposal
Project Planning

·Refine scope of project/product

·Perform system and data security assessment 
·Finalize deliverables
·Develop schedule
·Develop budget
·Plan communications strategy
·Develop plan for and secure project resources

·Develop post project support plan
·Submit Project Plan to PMOC for approval

Project Plan
Project Execution/Control ·Execute project tasks
·Monitor project progress
·Hold status meetings
·Document and manage any change requests
·Provide PMOC with critical status updates
As identified in the Project Plan
Project Closeout ·Formal acceptance of final deliverable(s) from customer
·Document lessons learned
·Close out any contracts (if necessary)
·Archive relevant documents with PMO
Project documentation is finalized when lessons learned and other notes have been documented in project closeout report

Lower Cost Projects with High Complexity

Technology projects costing less than the $100,000 threshold can still be extremely complex.  Project complexity, measured in terms of risk and impact, should be evaluated and incorporated into the project planning and execution/controlling processes.   This section provides tools and guidance for evaluating a project's complexity.  If a project's complexity is deemed to be high the project should be subject to the project management processes and deliverables prescribed in this standard.

Evaluating Project Complexity

For the purposes of this project management standard, project complexity will be evaluated by two (2) factors:  risk and impact.

           Risk: in the context of this standard, risk is comprised of schedule risks and dependency, quality/performance risks, human resource constraints, and organizational challenges

           Impact: in the context of this standard, impact is measured by the project's overall budget and the magnitude of its effect on the business goals and operations of W&M.

Categorizing a project's complexity requires analyzing the project's potential risks and its impact on the institution. During the Project Initiation phase the project team, with input from key stakeholders, needs to meet to gauge the complexity of the project based on the overall budget, the project duration and schedule dependencies, the number of people affected by the project's deliverables, and the degree to which new technology is being used or implemented, and any other risk factors present. A project scorecard (doc) is available to facilitate this process. The project scorecard is intended to assist in the final determination and not to prescribe a project's level of complexity solely based on its output. Another helpful guide in determining a project's complexity are the project complexity indicators (pdf). These indicators are distinct characteristics that help determine a project's complexity. The ultimate decision about a project's complexity, however, is the responsibility of the Project Manager and the key stakeholders. Once a project's complexity has been established it will drive the level of documentation and management oversight required. The PMOC reserves the right to re-assess a project's complexity during the PMOC Proposal Review meeting.

Project Documentation and Management Oversight

The required project documentation and management oversight for an information technology project is determined by assessing its impact and complexity.  The IT Project Proposal and Planning Template (xltx) provides criteria for assessing impact and assigning a complexity rating.  Projects with higher complexity ratings require more management oversight and project documentation than lower complexity projects.

Project Manager Selection and Training

Project managers are selected and assigned to projects by the Project Sponsor. The training and certification required for a Project Manager depends on a project's complexity and the assessment of the complexity by the PMOC. For medium- to high-complexity projects, a certified Project Manager is assigned either as the Project Manager or, at a minimum, as a consultant to the project. For low-complexity projects a non-certified Project Manager may be assigned without a certified project manager as a consultant. All new project managers are required to attend a project management training course delivered by the Project Management Office in the department of Information Technology.