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• Product Testing (Phase Four)—Involves verification that the product meets customer specifications and preparation for customer shipment. This includes the successful execution of the test plan, preparation of the implementation, training, and support plans, and validation of business success metrics.
• Product Release (Phase Five)—Includes the rollout of the completed solution, the incorporation of additional approved changes, continued progress reporting, and the creation of “lessons learned” documentation for the entire project.
• Phase-Gate "Lite”—Smaller projects (those costing less than $50,000 and requiring less than 250 effort hours) are not subjected to the same level of rigor as larger projects. In this scaled-down process, phases and gates 2 through 4 are combined, with only the most significant deliverables required for successful advancement.
Sources: Teradyne, Inc., Internal document. All rights reserved; Working Council for Chief Information Officers Executive Board, “Governance and Prioritization for Agile IT Organizations,” 2002.
140 CHAPTER 4 IT PORTFOLIOS AND THEIR CONTENT IN CONTEXT
Using a phase-gate approach, Teradyne’s success rate for large projects jumped from 40% to 90%. In addition, many efficiencies were gained through execution of projects as well as early decommissioning of projects. This enabled Teradyne to fund off-cycle projects.
IT project portfolio evaluations and reviews at each gate serve as a check and balance, ensuring the right balance of projects are strategically aligned to a company’s priorities. Managing the IT project portfolio and IT project phases is dependent on many key factors, some of which are listed below:
• Program management discipline throughout all IT project phases (e.g., management, support, tools, processes, quality and standards, methodologies, mentoring, training, consulting).
• Ability to effectively and efficiently allocate limited resources. In the event of an off-cycle request, a company must have options to quickly tap into additional skilled and experienced resources.
• Efficient and effective processes such as change management, transition management, configuration management, project management, resource and capacity management.
• Alignment with business and strategic objectives, requirements, and architecture.
• Close collaboration and partnership with the enterprise architecture group and the enterprise program management office.
• Focus, focus, focus. Avoid stretching resources beyond their means; avoid the syndrome of treating most projects as must-do, constantly responding to customer input or sales and overloading the system with too many projects.
• Leadership commitment and active senior leadership support.
• Project management and monitoring tools that quickly sense when a project is not achieving its objectives, and providing a means by which changes can be communicated and rapidly acted upon.
• Policies, security, governance, and procedures that provide clear guidance, direction, accountability, and responsibilities.
• Core team of individuals engaged in all phases of the IT life cycle; switching the core team around opens too many avenues for plausible deniability when projects go south.
• Limited tolerance for schedule slips. Instead, consider increasing resources to a project that is slipping.38
IT PROJECT PORTFOLIO
• Development of clear and consistent criteria:
• Achieving an effective equilibrium between:
• Practicality, balance, alignment, risks, and rewards
• Priorities of business units, product lines, and corporate
• Tangible versus intangible, subjective versus objective, quantitative versus qualitative factors
• Prioritizing growth projects
• Consolidating and reusing components across the company
• Willingness to cancel projects
• Analysis and assessment of constraints
• Development and execution of performance management and metrics
It is important that companies maintain a healthy balance of low-risk versus high-risk and short-term versus long-term projects in the IT project portfolio. A study by Edward McDonough and Francis Spital showed “that the more successful portfolios had a smaller proportion of projects with both low technical and low market uncertainty . . . portfolios that best meet their objectives have a higher
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proportion of uncertain projects.
Transition to Operations
IT projects that graduate from the IT project phase are ready to launch into operations or be introduced into the commercial marketplace. A transition readiness list will help smoothen the transition from the IT project portfolio to the IT asset portfolio. This will also help IT investments achieve a greater probability of attaining their projected goals and objectives. Some of the checklist items that will help assure the continued success of the project are:40