Project management cuts across different industries, while product delivery management is industry specific. The matured industry specific product delivery management processes, including their interactions with the project management processes, will be briefly described.
Product delivery management processes and practices fulfill the delivery of new, enhanced or modified products within the product life cycle. It begins at the conceptualization phase, progressing to design, development, production and commercialization. The vital role of project management is to ensure that well thought through processes and practices are applied to ensure that the right product is delivered, using the appropriate product delivery management processes and practices.
Some organizations have integrated or harmonized the project management and product delivery management processes into a unified framework. However, this does not preclude the separate significance of the two related but interdependent disciplines.
Sometimes, the product delivery organization may be an external service provider. Therefore, it is advisable to have a contract document or agreement, signed by the project manager and the product delivery manager, defining the product specifications and governing the expectations.
The methodologies described here are used to develop custom built solutions and implement Commercial Off-The-shelve Solutions (COTS). To understand the delivery of Information Technology (IT) based solutions (application, data/information, security and infrastructure), it is important to briefly describe some de-facto industry frameworks or methodologies that are commonly used and adapted to deliver these solutions.
In most organizations, particularly in small to medium size organizations, the complete understanding of these frameworks is rare. This is because some part of the organization focuses on the application of one or some of the frameworks, without a good appreciation of the complements that others provide. Understanding these frameworks, including their applications and how they complement each other, is very important to establish and sustain service excellence.
Control OBjectives for Information and related Technology (COBIT) is an IT governance, service planning, delivery, control and support framework. COBIT is a set of best practices and framework for information technology (IT) management created by the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA), and the IT Governance Institute (ITGI) in 1992. COBIT provides managers, auditors, professionals and information technology users with a set of generally accepted measures, indicators, processes and best practices to assist them in maximizing the benefits derived through the use of information technology and developing appropriate IT governance and control in the organization. Detailed information on COBIT is available at the isaca.org website.
Figure 20 shows a representation of the COBIT 4.1 framework. COBIT 4.1 has 34 high level processes that cover 210 control objectives categorized in four domains – Plan and Organize, Acquire and Implement, Deliver and Support, and Monitor and Evaluate. COBIT provides benefits to managers, IT users, professionals and auditors. Managers benefit from COBIT because it provides them with a foundation upon which IT related decisions and investments can be based on. It provides the IT professionals with the framework to deliver products and services that maximize value for the users of IT products and services.
COBIT provides end-to-end picture of IT products and services delivery and management. Its understanding will enable a project manager to appreciate the relevance of project delivery within the overall context of IT service delivery.
System Development Life Cycle (SDLC) is a tested and widely used IT based business solutions development methodology. It provides the framework for structuring, planning, designing, developing and delivering information systems. The traditional SDLC phases are feasibility study, requirement analysis, design, development (construction), testing, implementation and post implementation review.
Variations of the traditional SDLC exist, with customized characteristics. However, the goal of each variation or type is the same – to deliver information technology solutions that meet the defined and agreed client requirements or needs in a timely and cost effective fashion. Figure 21 is a representation of the SDLC framework. It shows the processes and their associated deliverables.
Rational Unified Process (RUP) is an IBM® version of the SDLC. It has been proven to be reliable for conceptualizing, analyzing, designing, developing and deploying IT based business solutions. It supports different approaches (waterfall, iterative or mixed) to solutions delivery. Figure 22 is a representation of the RUP methodology. It shows the processes and their associated deliverables.
There are two basic approaches to developing and delivering IT based business solutions – waterfall and iterative. Variations of these two, particularly iterative, exist. The focus here is on these two basic approaches.
Waterfall: This a sequential, though with some overlaps, approach to transform user requirements into system specifications, design, development and delivery of a solution that meets the user requirements. It is generally adopted in matured environments where user requirements are known to a high degree, with high confidence and minimal or no change in the course of solution or product development.
Iterative: This is a progressive incremental approach to developing information systems. It is commonly used for new product development, where requirements are not well established and need to emerge over time. The SDLC method is applied in phases to elicit stage by stage, analysis, design and development of known requirements into a solution. It goes through series of progressive iterations where additional requirements are identified, sometimes through proto-types.
The SDLC (or RUP) methodology does not prescribe a specific approach. The SDLC is used, albeit in different fashion, in both waterfall and iterative approaches. Figure 23 and Figure 24 show the use of the SDLC methodology in the waterfall and iterative approaches respectively.
Infrastructure includes hardware and software (operating system, middle ware, support and utility software). It is the platform on which the business solutions (application and data) run. It requires specific or customized fit-for-purpose methodology to ensure consistent delivery and sustenance.
ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library, currently at version 3) is a de-facto service delivery and management framework which can be used or customized to deliver and manage infrastructure products and services. Also, the RUP methodology can be adapted to deliver infrastructure projects.
Basically, infrastructure product or service delivery follow these processes – inception (requirements specification), design/capacity planning, acquisition of equipment, software and service support, implementation and transition to operations.
Figure 25 shows an infrastructure delivery framework.
SLA è Service Level Agreement is the service support or sustainment (contractual) agreement between an organization and the (third party) service delivery partner or organization.
OLA è Operational Level Agreement is the service support or sustainment (contractual) agreement between the service delivery teams within the same organization. For example, an OLA may exist between the application development/maintenance and technology/hosting service delivery teams.
Commercial Off The Shelve (COTS) products are third party solutions that can be purchased, configured and/or customized to meet the client needs. Examples of COTs include SAP (System Application Program) – an enterprise resource planning and industry solutions portfolio, Oracle® Financials and PeopleSoft HR. Figure 26 shows a COTS delivery framework.
COTS delivery framework can be categorized into two parts: (i) Plan & Acquire and (ii) Delivery (Plan, Organize & Implement).
Plan & Acquire includes the following key elements:
- Product delivery strategy: a decision has to be made by the organization to build or buy a new product, based on the organization’s strategy or a specific need.
- Requirements specification: for COTS solution, the requirements have to be defined and specified in great detail to ensure that the right or best-fit product is selected for implementation.
- Evaluation checklist: this is derived from the requirements specification. It presents the requirements in format that facilitate features comparison across the selected third party products.
- Product Selection: products are selected for evaluation based on preliminary reviews (e.g. request for information and vendors’ demonstration) of possible products.
- Evaluation: evaluation of selected products is performed using the evaluation checklist. A product, with the lowest trade-off, is usually selected based on the evaluation result and recommendation.
- COTS decision and acquisition: this is a procurement process to acquire the selected product(s), usually through the request for proposal (RFP) activities.
Delivery (Plan, Organize & Implement) includes the following key elements:
- Delivery Plan: the main deliverable of delivery planning is the solution blueprint for the infrastructure setup and software configuration.
- Implementation: includes setup of test-bed for customization and/or configuration, training, pilot, testing, pre-production packaging, acceptance and production release.
- Transition: includes creation of support agreements, commission, decommission and post-production release review.
Construction projects vary in type, discipline, complexity and size. Construction project types include new product or asset, existing product maintenance and replacement or infrastructure renewals. Some maintenance work, depending on the size and organization, may not be treated as project, but rather as a minor work order, which usually takes less than 30 days to complete. An example of a minor work order is the repairs of a minor fracture on a portion of a local road.
Construction projects usually involve professionals from various disciplines (mechanical, electrical, civil and chemical engineering, finance, information technology etc.) working together at various stages of the project.
Examples of construction projects include:
§ Transportation – road construction, maintenance or renewal.
§ Housing/Building – home, office, school construction, maintenance or renewal.
§ Factory/industrial construction.
§ Chemicals – flow station, refinery construction, maintenance or renewal.
§ Electrical – new power station, sub-station and new transmission lines.
§ Mechanical – new automobile production or re-branding, new aircraft for department of defense.
Essentially key processes for a typical construction project include:
§ Requirements – Requirement Specifications.
§ Planning & Conceptual Design.
§ Detailed Design.
§ Construction & Delivery (Acceptance).
Figure 27 shows a construction product delivery management framework.