In my last post, I showed you how a simple Project Schedule Template can save time and headaches for IT managers. If you are in IT, sooner or later you are going to need to convert some technology, install new hardware and software to replace some old equipment and software, or maybe install new equipment and software for a totally new application. In this post, I’ll show you how to use my time-tested Systems Conversion Project Schedule.
Schedule the work, work the schedule
In most system conversions or new system installations, there are a few key groups of tasks required to do the job. One thing you can to do help organize your project schedule is to group the detail tasks by category.
In the sample I’ll discuss, I identified six major categories of tasks:
- Assessment – Identifying everything required to complete the project.
- Order and organize – Ordering equipment, software and other items as needed plus organizing components of the project.
- Infrastructure – Infrastructure and desktop support tasks.
- Setup/Installation – Software installations, etc. File build tasks would also be in this category.
- Programming – Programming and Business Analyst work.
- Training – Training and testing tasks.
You may need other category groups, depending upon the nature of your project. Most system conversion or installation projects will have at least the six that I’ve listed above.
Organizing the tasks by category group will also help you when you run weekly status meetings to determine the status of the project as it organizes the discussion into logical work groupings.
“X” marks the spot!
What I like to do for each task is to put a “/” in the cell for the week the task needs to be completed by. When the task is completed, I change the slash (/) to an “X”. This way, it is very easy to walk through a status meeting quickly by just focusing on this week’s tasks that have not been marked as completed. It also makes it easy to visually see the status of the project.
Another thing to consider for your project is that there will be tasks that are critical to the project. In fact, those “critical tasks” may turn into bottlenecks that can jeopardize a successful delivery of the project. It’s easy to highlight these tasks for the team by shading the cell that shows the scheduled completion date for the task. By doing so, that shading will trigger you to ask about the status of the task weeks in advance of its scheduled completion date, and you can instill a sense of urgency on the parts of the people responsible for getting the work done.
Project success is much more likely when you organize your project into a solid schedule, assign appropriate responsibility, and check on the status every week.
In the sample there is a generic project schedule along with an actual project schedule sample used for a past systems conversion. Feel free to use these to help you in your next systems conversion or installation.
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