In the advance world of Information and Communications Technology, a lot of Information Systems has been developed to alleviate manual processes. These Information Systems comes in different projects. A good project depends on so many varying factors. The most important factor is having a very good Project Manager who is tasked to meet his members in order to plan the steps to be done in software development. He should be able to establish an open communication to his members so that ideas are free-flowing.
The Project Manager is responsible for dividing the team, each with different task to do – that is to follow the systematic way in software project development- Project Life Cycle. Following the Project Life Cycle is another factor that can affect project success. If a member in a team does not possess a good working relationship and can hardly work in a group, chances are – the project is a total chaos. The members of the development team should share their knowledge and expertise in order to accomplish the best possible output and to deliver the project on the estimated data.
A project also needs the attention of the owner. If the top management does not give 100% support to the project development team or does not support the computerization of many business processes, the company will not be able to accomplish its objectives.
However, problems in software development can hardly be avoided. Problems occur anytime within the development of the project. The Project Manager as well as the members should anticipate problems and should be able to provide quick solutions so that the delivery of the project cannot be delayed.
Project Development Introduction
When a lot of work has been assigned, it is very tempting to stay late to get everything done before the next day. But according to a research, this is not a good practice because workers who have this kind of attitude are 61% more likely to suffer work-related injuries. (Reader’s Digest March 1996, 132)
The above-mentioned attitude of an employee is of great help to the company because it just shows that they are dedicated to their job. In this way, projects assigned to these employees can easily be complied and can be submitted even before the deadline.
Large companies should have these types of employees in order to deliver projects on time most especially in the field of Information Technology where all transactions happen in just a click. Because of the fast-paced advancement in the field of Information and Communications Technology, most; if not all; organizations nowadays want an Information System that can help them in their day-to-day business operations.
This Information System is built to alleviate the burden that manual procedures bring. This also makes the organization be abreast with the latest technology and not be left behind by their competitors. In selecting a company that can answer the needs of big organization in terms of developing good software, the company needs to look for developmental organizations which can deliver projects on time and be able to complete the requirements being specified.
Software Life Cycle Activities
In order for companies to deliver projects on time, the software development group has to follow the Software Life Cycle. A project intended for large organizations should be broken down into smaller chunks to give enough attention to each of the smaller modules. In this way, the members of the group can focus on each phase and deal with problems, which arise while the realizing of each phase takes place, more systematically. The Software Life Cycle divides a large-scope project into the following six phases:
- Analysis and specification of the task (Savitch 1993, 115)
- Design of the software (Savitch 1993, 115)
- Implementation (coding) (Savitch 1993, 115)
- Testing (Savitch 1993, 115)
- Maintenance and evolution of the system (Savitch 1993, 115)
- Obsolescence (Savitch 1993, 115)
The CHAOS study divided the project into three (3) types: Project Success – the project is completed successfully incorporating all the specified features, Project Challenged – the project is completed but with less features and delivered late and Project Impaired- the project is cancelled during the development cycle. The group conducted a survey and they found out that there are factors affecting each of the three types of project. Taking into consideration the Project Success category, it was found out that User Involvement has the highest percentage in terms of accomplishing the project. User involvement got 15.9% among all other factors. While the factor that really deterred a project success is Hardworking Staff. (Standish,1995)
Based on the facts presented, one of the major factors why an organization/project succeeds is due to hardworking staffs. If only a certain company hires employees who can work under pressure and requires less supervision, surely the management can deliver to its customers the desired project even before the deadline.
Project Challenged Factors are Lack of User Input (12.8%), Incomplete Requirements & Specifications (12.3%), Changing Requirements & Specifications (11.8%), Lack of Executive Support (7.5%), Technology Incompetence (7.0%), Lack of Resources (6.4%), Unrealistic Expectations (5.9%), Unclear Objectives (5.3%), Unrealistic Time Frames (4.3%), New Technology (3.7%) and Other factors (23.0%). (Standish,1995)
The data above shows that the major factor that contests a project is lack of user input. User involvement greatly helps a project’s success since users are the direct beneficiaries of the project. They can also contribute to the features that will be incorporated into the system.
Developing a user-friendly application may be one criteria of a project success. A user-friendly application is needed so that the company need not conduct a month or two training just to teach the users on how to navigate through the system.
A project can be anything an organization wants to accomplish to deliver to its customers. It should have definite goals and objectives. A good Project Management involves a proper organization, management, planning, supervising and controlling to bring out a successful project. One major challenges of a good project management is the accomplishment of its goals and objectives while adhering to the project’s scope, time and budget. Objectives of the project must be specific, measurable, realistic, and relevant to the environment and is time bounded. (Free Management Library, 1997-2008)
The figure shows the procedures to be best followed by the management in developing a successful project.
Figure 1.0: Project Life Cycle (Foote & Crum, 2000)
In addition, the following are the key aspects of a Project Life Cycle:
- Setting goals and estimating costs (Foote & Crum, 2000)
Before starting any project, a clear specification of the goals and objectives should be set so that the management has a clear guide as where the project is going. Costs should also be estimated for the management to prepare enough funds in the development of the project.
- The functional requirements study (Foote & Crum, 2000)
Functional requirements should be clearly specified so that the management can focus on these requirements and can research ways and means on how to meet these. But before finalizing the requirements of the project, the management has to conduct a feasibility on what are to be included and what are not and on what are best needed by the their clients.
- The creation of a prototype (Foote & Crum, 2000)
A prototype or an archetype should be first developed to see if the project is feasible or not. Prototypes serve as a sample output when the system will be completed. Presenting this one will give the management an idea of how the system will work and what benefits can it give to them.
In order for an organization to accomplish and deliver projects on time, they have to have a good set of workers who are willing to be trained to further enhance learning. Moreover, the following are the steps to a successful project:
- Scope out a detailed plan (Alexandrou, 2006)
- Watch out for bad RFPs bid (Alexandrou, 2006)
- Plan ahead (Alexandrou, 2006)
- Find the bottleneck (Alexandrou, 2006)
- Do not cut corners on testing (Alexandrou, 2006)
- Develop a backup system (Alexandrou, 2006)
- Prepare other contingency plans (Alexandrou, 2006)
- Train, train, train and train some more (Alexandrou, 2006)
- Be honest (Alexandrou, 2006)
- Triage fixes (Alexandrou, 2006)
Additionally, other suggested steps that a company may carry to deliver good IT projects to its clients are listed below:
- Discover (JamesDeanWaryk, 1999-2008)
- Dreams (JamesDeanWaryk, 1999-2008)
- Desire (JamesDeanWaryk, 1999-2008)
- Decision (JamesDeanWaryk, 1999-2008)
- Destination (JamesDeanWaryk, 1999-2008)
- Direction (JamesDeanWaryk, 1999-2008)
- Daily action (JamesDeanWaryk, 1999-2008)
- Discipline (JamesDeanWaryk, 1999-2008)
- Determination (JamesDeanWaryk, 1999-2008)
- Delight (JamesDeanWaryk, 1999-2008)
- Destiny (JamesDeanWaryk, 1999-2008)
The above-mentioned steps can best be applied to an organization which has a good project manager that possesses the needed knowledge to perform all tasks and responsibilities assigned to him. A good leadership skill is also needed to inspire and garner respect from its team members and also from the top management. An outstanding project manager always conveys ideas in an articulate manner that resounds with the targeted audience and therefore should have a good communication skill. (Wu, 2005)
On the other hand, there are also factors that greatly affects why a project fails. These IT projects fail because when the management does not able to deliver the project on time, it is over budget and the system does not work as required. The following are the reasons why an IT Project fails: (Coley Consulting, 2001-2007)
- Lack of user involvement (Coley Consulting, 2001-2007)
A very important factor since the Information System is mainly built for users/customers. So, this Information System should be able to satisfy what users want and need.
- Long or unrealistic time scales (Coley Consulting, 2001-2007)
If the group assigned to develop the Information System specifies unrealistic deadlines surely the system is a failure. Before setting deadlines, the group must consider the features incorporated in the system.
- Poor or no requirements (Coley Consulting, 2001-2007)
Specifying the system’s requirements is an important aspect in project development but if the management fails to do so, the project is of no good.
- Scope creep (Coley Consulting, 2001-2007)
The scope and limitation of the project should be clearly defined.
- No change control system (Coley Consulting, 2001-2007)
There should be proper control over the system.
- Poor testing (Coley Consulting, 2001-2007)
This happens when testing measures are not clearly established.
Moreover, projects fail due to stakeholder conflicts. Stakeholder conflicts can take part in many different roles in project failure. Frequently, stakeholders have personal reasons/conflicts for not being able to work as a team. (Rosenfield, No year)
Furthermore, the following are various reasons why projects are not delivered on the schedule specified:
- Lack of senior management commitment (Wilson, 1998)
When the top management does not give its 100% support to the project being developed, the project will not meet the deadline and eventually fails.
- Lack of user involvement (Wilson, 1998)
As mentioned above, users should be involved in the development of the project because they should be the ones whom the management asked for the specifications the project should have.
- Lack of user requirements specifications (Wilson, 1998)
User requirements specifications should be done during the planning stage to carefully analyze the features that are to be included in the system.
- Poor project planning (Wilson, 1998)
Planning is the most critical step in software project development life cycle. The success of the project depends on the effort, skill and care applied in the planning stage. (Blair, No year)
- Project team problems (Wilson, 1998)
Problems among members of the development team greatly affect their performance. This can lead to not being able to meet the requirements of the project, thus, not beating the deadline. To avoid these, the team leader must be able to control and supervise his members so that conflicts will not be experienced among themselves.
In today’s modern world, to deliver projects on time and making it sure that these projects meet the customers’ requirements and features, the management must hire workers who are good team players. A person who cannot work in a team will not be able accomplish any tasks given as a group. Good camaraderie should be as well fostered among team members so that a healthy environment is established and everybody can work freely.
Any organization, may it big or small, always aim for success in their field. With the aid of the current trends in Information Technology, so many applications can now be applied. One of these is the utilization of an Information System. The development of an Information System should follow the systematic way so that a very good outcome results.
Project Life Cycle has indeed plays a very important role in the development of an Information System. The different steps in the cycle, if being carried out properly, results to a project delivered even before the delivery date schedule. The success of any project also lies in the knowledge and expertise of the team leader in the software development team. The team leader, having possessed all the expertise in the field of software development and very good managerial skills, can really motivate his members to work hard for the success of the project.
The project delivered by the software development team is the Information System being utilized by large-scale organizations. This Information System has helped all transactions in various aspects of the organization in so many different ways. Information System, if being delivered on time, brings a lot of positive results to the management side. This can boost up the company’s morale, thus, making the company more competitive in the world market.
Project Management is a very crucial task of a manager. Thus, having been equipped with the knowledge and expertise, the company can gain competitive advantage in the business field.
No Author. Reader’s Digest March 1996. Toil Smarter, Not Longer: 132.
Savitch, Walter J. 1993. Turbo Pascal. Redwood City, CA: The Benjamin/Cummings Publishing Company Inc.
The Standish Group. 1995. The Standish Group Report: CHAOS. http://220.127.116.11/search?q=cache:ueLBNWtVA7MJ:www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/NCP08083B.pdf+chaos+standish+group+1995&hl=tl&ct=clnk&cd=2&gl=ph (Accessed 23March2008).
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Foote, Kenneth E., & Crum, Shannon L. 2000. Project Planning and Life Cycle. http://www.colorado.edu/geography/gcraft/notes/lifecycle/lifecycl_f.html (Accessed 24March2008)
Alexandrou, Marios. 2006. Information Technology Blog: 10 Steps to a Successful Project. http://www.mariosalexandrou.com/blog/?p=162 (Accessed 24March2008)
JamesDeanWaryk. 1999-2008. How to 12 Steps to a Successful Project, Company or Life. http://www.ehow.com/how_2062188_steps-successful-project-company-life.html (Accessed 24March2008)
Wu, Jonathan. 2005. Characteristics of an Outstanding Business Intelligence Project Manager. http://www.dmreview.com/issues/20050501/1026063-1.html (Accessed 24March2008)
Coley Consulting. 2001-2007. Project Failure-The six key reasons why projects fail. http://www.coleyconsulting.co.uk/failure.htm (Accessed 24March2008)
Rosenfield, Eric. No year. Why do projects fail? http://www.adaptivepartners.com/projfailb.htm (Accessed 24March2008)
Wilson, Sheila. 1998. Failed IT Projects. http://faculty.ed.umuc.edu/~meinkej/inss690/wilson.htm (Accessed 24March2008)
Blair, Gerard M. No year. Project Planning. http://www.see.ed.ac.uk/~gerard/Management/art8.html?http://oldeee.see.ed.ac.uk/~gerard/Management/art8.html (Accessed 24March2008)