IT Service and Project Delivery Roles

 < Day Day Up > 

The focus of all IT activities revolves around service and project delivery. [5] In modeling the associated business processes, it is useful to think of the constituent parts of service and project delivery as a web of mutual commitments among sponsors, working clients, customers, IT delivery teams, and the PMO. As presented in Exhibit 3, these relationships interconnect, and through their transactions the various players in this scenario ultimately deliver value to the enterprise and its customers. Successful delivery depends on a shared sense of responsibility for and commitment to the desired outcome as understood by all parties within this web of relationships. The results of the IT service or project must be defined up front and subsequently assessed for compliance when actually delivered.

Exhibit 3: The Web of Commitments in Service and Project Delivery

start example

click to expand

end example

Within this framework, no service or project deliverable can exist without the direct participation of an active sponsor. A sponsor is the line-of-business leader who champions a particular IT service or product offering. A sponsor's support is essential to success in that he or she sells the value of a particular IT investment to the greater enterprise community and may formally fund the undertaking. Typically, this role is assumed by a member of executive-level management and the owner of the line-of-business or customer relationships directly impacted by the specific IT service or project under consideration. Sponsors provide a strategic enterprise perspective and an understanding of the overall scope of the business effort required for delivery. They are also well positioned to build bridges between key line-of-business stakeholders and the assigned IT team leaders (i.e., customer relationship executives, service managers, project directors, and project managers), to ensure that the proper resources are at hand to enable delivery and that service or project outcomes properly align with overall enterprise priorities.

Beyond providing focus, leadership, funding, and political support to the IT team, the sponsor also ensures that appropriate line-of-business resources, including working clients, are added to the project team. Furthermore, major IT undertakings often entail the rethinking of associated business processes. The sponsor is best positioned to recognize this need and marshal the political and organizational resources required to see the process changes to fruition. Many times, the sponsor will also conduct project reviews, sign off on project deliverables, and even preside over lessons learned at the conclusion of a service or project delivery cycle.

The sponsor, however, may have neither the time nor the inclination to participate more directly in IT-related work. He or she will typically delegate more direct responsibility for the success of the effort to subordinates in the impacted line of business. These day-to-day representatives of the business sponsor are the so-called working clients, providing detailed operational and tactical knowledge of the business activities in relation to the planned deployment of new information technologies. Unlike the sponsor, who may be totally uninvolved in project execution, the working clients will be intimately involved. As such, the role of the working client is multifaceted. He or she serves as a liaison between the business unit and IT, identifying and making available to the team business- and customer-specific expertise. The working client may also actively engage in project management, reviewing progress against the plan and helping to resolve operational and resource issues. Perhaps one of the key roles of the working client is to review interim project results and ensure that the emergent product or service aligns with the expectations of the sponsor and the needs of the business. In the author's experience, the availability and regular participation of working clients in any IT endeavor will make or break the project. Both the sponsor and the working clients should be on board before initiating any new undertaking.

Given the conflicting pressures that consume the lives of our colleagues on the line-of-business side of the enterprise, it is essential that IT maintain open and honest lines of communication with service or project sponsors and working clients. This must happen at various levels. Since a sponsor may have any number of projects under way with IT, someone must look after the entire portfolio of investments between that line-of-business sponsor and the IT organization. The sponsor is interested in one-stop shopping, that is, in having someone who can reach out across IT to answer questions, address problems, and advocate for the needs of the sponsor's business unit. Similarly, the sponsor and working clients benefit greatly from someone who understands the particulars of their business and can advise them on how best to invest their limited IT dollars and help them set realistic service level and project delivery targets.

At a more granular level, the working clients must interact with the IT manager who oversees the particular service or project of interest to that business unit. Here, the requirement is for detailed knowledge of the specific technologies and processes applied to achieve successful delivery. The working clients will expect an in-depth understanding of their unit's business processes, customers, and associated enabling technologies. They will also expect an IT counterpart who knows and understands the particulars of the project under way and has a general knowledge of all the information technologies that will contribute to delivery. Two very different roles within IT emerge from these requirements. At the portfolio level, the IT organization should establish a group of customer relationship executives (CREs) to address the need; at the specific project level, the solution calls for the creation of a project director's role.

The best CRE is someone from within the IT organization who is senior enough to recognize and appreciate opportunities for the information technology enablement of the business. The CRE need not be a technical expert, although in some instances, such as work that calls for highly integrated manufacturing systems or Web services, knowledge of the particular technologies in play may be essential. CREs should have strong people skills, especially listening, negotiating, and communication skills. When problems or changes in plan occur, CREs must be able to stand up to senior IT and business management, conveying the realities of the situation and its implications for timely, full delivery. At the same time, the CRE must know the entire IT organization and where to turn for help and advice. Typically, the CRE role calls for the maturity of judgment that comes with many years of service, within IT or the business itself. [6] Few IT organizations are large enough to field an independent team of CREs. Usually, the CIO and members of his or her executive team will each take on an assigned portfolio of line-of-business products and services, and serve as the IT organization's CREs.

Once CREs receive their customer assignments, their tasks are threefold. First, they will meet with their sponsors and working clients to collect service and project needs, always shaping customer expectations about IT capabilities and organization capacity. Second, they will keep their customers apprised of IT service and project delivery performance — both the good news and the bad. Third, they will bring opportunities for the further IT enablement of business operations to the attention of line-of-business executives. In short, the role of the CRE is to nurture the relationship between key customers and the IT organization through reporting, communicating, educating, and setting expectations. The particular tasks of the CRE might include the following:

  • Collect and present the history of past services and projects, including success measures and related performance data

  • Create and review with the customer IT's service level agreement (SLA) for the coming year

  • Finalize agreement and signoff on the SLA and thereafter conduct periodic (e.g., monthly) reviews of actual IT performance as defined and measured by the metrics set down in the SLA

  • Conduct monthly sponsor and working client working sessions to achieve the following:

    • Manage customer expectations

    • Gather customer feedback

    • Share end-user (i.e., ultimate customer) feedback

    • Explore emerging customer-generated requirements and IT opportunities

  • Track and report on the overall status of all IT projects in the sponsor's IT portfolio

  • Review, where appropriate, project scorecards [7] with the sponsor and the working clients, noting, communicating, and managing the following as need be:

    • Issues

    • Change orders

    • Emerging opportunities

    • Customer satisfaction feedback

  • Bring new requirements and emerging opportunities, once these have been validated by the customer, to IT executive management for prioritization and approval

  • Expand the scope of the IT portfolio for his or her client's line of business as appropriate

  • Conduct satisfaction surveys at the close of a project with his or her sponsor and working clients

  • Provide input to the IT planning and budgeting processes regarding the needs and expectation of his or her customers

By its very nature, the CRE role is very "top of the trees." It does not serve the more detailed management requirements associated with day-to-day delivery. Instead, it helps set the overall tone and direction of the relationship between IT and a key customer. A good CRE has a clear sense of what the line of business needs and what IT can do to help. The CRE's essential job is to manage expectations and maintain high-quality communication among IT service and product stakeholders. To that end, each CRE will work with any number of IT service delivery managers and project directors, who are in turn responsible within the IT organization for service and project delivery.

IT service delivery managers operate and maintain the hardware- and software-enabled services on behalf of line-of-business customers and the enterprise community as a whole. On the infrastructure side of things, they may maintain data centers, storage arrays, networks, printers, desktop systems, and the like. On the software side, they may develop, install, integrate, support, and enhance services, such as Web portals, voice response systems, and e-mail systems, as well as such business applications as general ledger and accounting, manufacturing, logistics and distribution, marketing, sales, and so forth. There may be dozens, even hundreds, of service managers in your IT organization. The CRE could not possibly interact with each of them individually.

Instead, each service delivery manager will establish enterprisewide service level descriptions and metrics for those who consume that service. Through the PMO or perhaps the CRE himself or herself, the IT organization will incorporate this information into a single SLA for the review and signoff of business sponsors and working clients. Once agreed upon, the SLA will serve as the yardstick for assessing IT service delivery. (See Chapter 4 for details.) When the needs of the business change or when external or internal forces dictate an adjustment to SLAs, this information is communicated through the CRE, who renegotiates any changes to the SLA with the appropriate IT service delivery manager.

Because project initiation usually signals a major change to the use of IT and the underlying business process, information technology projects require a different sort of management process. Here, the CRE may report on the status of work for the benefit of the sponsor, but most of the action occurs between the working clients on the business side of the house and the project director and project manager on behalf of the IT organization. In this context, the IT project director is responsible for overall project delivery. As a practical matter, the project director is usually the IT service manager who will end up owning the ongoing maintenance and support of the new IT solution once it is delivered. [8] He or she has the authority to make decisions that will keep the project moving, works with the project manager in administering project plan tasks and resources, and keeps customers and upper management informed of project statuses. Most importantly, the project director ensures that his or her team is staffed with the right people to get the job done and that all of those people perform at peak efficiency and effectiveness.

After negotiating resource levels with the project sponsor and the project's internal and external partner providers, the project director works in concert with the project manager on commitments, plans, reports, metrics and all other planning and control tools. He or she participates in and at times leads customer meetings and briefings, keeps project working clients and perhaps sponsors apprised of current statuses, works with and oversees external service provider activities, monitors project-related contracts, maintains project budgets, communicates project issues to stakeholders, and chairs project management team meetings. When disagreements emerge within the project team, the project director should resolve such conflicts and keep the project moving. To accomplish these duties, the project director requires a general understanding of project management processes and techniques, an understanding of the end customer and business processes, and an intimate understanding of the role that IT enablement plays in the particulars of the project.

For the project director, this is a long to-do list, especially when you realize that the person in question also typically runs a major IT service. Therefore, the project director will draw on the services of two PMO supporting resources: the project manager and the business analyst. The project manager provides continuous oversight of the project by communicating directly with the project director, the project sponsor, the working clients, and the IT executive team. He or she brings leadership skills and process expertise to the project, guiding and evaluating the performance of the project team. The project manager is responsible for the day-to-day activities of the project with regard to timely delivery, budget, and quality (i.e., meeting or exceeding customer requirements). At any given time, the project manager may be responsible for one or more projects. For small projects in which only a few people are involved, the project manager might serve as both the team leader and its business analyst.

The project manager brings the value of his or her particular discipline to each engagement, but this person also provides an objective perspective on how things are going within the project, with an eye toward how this particular project may impact or be impacted by other IT projects. This perspective is invaluable. All too often, those engaged do not have the leisure or vantage point to see the connections between their work and other activities across the IT organization. Their focus is on the particular technologies and business processes that serve as the focus for their project. Since the project manager's primary responsibilities concern process, he or she is better positioned to consider the implications of what is happening and how the actions of a particular project team might have downstream or upstream repercussions for some other IT effort.

The specific tasks of the project manager may include the following:

  • Develop scoping statements and the definition of IT deliverables (not to be confused with the desired business outcomes that are defined by the business through the CRE or project director)

  • Create work plans and budget estimates under the general direction of the project director

  • Work with the project director in selecting staff resources and partner providers, and help to define the roles and responsibilities of individual team members

  • Work with the project director on timetables, metrics, problem escalation procedures, and the like

  • Conduct business process analysis and collect and document user requirements

  • Manage day-to-day project work, including the following:

    • Monitor project plan compliance

    • Report on progress and issues against the plan

    • Work with external partner providers to deliver on their commitments

  • Track issues and resource consumption for the project director

  • Assist in the preparation of reports for IT management, project sponsors, and working clients

  • Conduct project meetings and presentations

  • Monitor the turnover of project deliverables

  • Coordinate the SLA turnover

  • Conduct lessons-learned sessions and customer satisfaction surveys

  • Ensure that all project artifacts are posted to the appropriate IT knowledge base or archive

The project manager's toolkit ideally includes expertise in project and resource planning, vendor management, people management, and process management; specific business-related knowledge; [9] business process analysis; interpersonal communication; people skills; listening; conceptual modeling; and documentation and writing.

The list of project manager roles and responsibilities is long. The project manager may share this burden with one or more business analysts. As a member of the service or project delivery team, the business analyst possesses the skills to clearly identify business and customer requirements and to communicate and document these requirements on behalf of the team. The project team and its working clients then use this information to define or redefine organizational processes and IT functional system requirements. In executing his or her assignments, the business analyst will focus on the overall efficiency of the business process and its enabling technologies. The objective is to identify opportunities to improve business performance and to reduce the total cost of information technology ownership. To this end, the business analyst will typically do the following:

  • Document existing business processes and customer uses of IT

  • Develop and document process flows in terms of a particular technology-enabled solutions (i.e., functional specifications)

  • Develop project business and functional specifications and assist in the drafting of technical specifications

  • Work with the project manager to develop statements of work, project schedules, and deliverable descriptions, and to issue tracking documents and management reports

  • Prepare test scripts and quality assurance scenarios for the testing and release management processes

To do his or her job, the business analyst requires competencies in business process analysis, interpersonal communication, listening, conceptual modeling, documentation and business writing, project management, and the role of IT enablement in process design and engineering.

In summary, successful IT service and project delivery requires broad-based participation. The business side of the house provides the sponsors and working clients, who articulate the need for enabling information technologies and who work with IT to convert these requirements into IT services. IT CREs are usually senior managers who serve as overall service and project portfolio managers, working in close partnership with their line-of-business counterparts to shape the scope of IT assignments, set operational and tactical priorities, and allocate resources. The typical IT project director should be the same IT line manager who will maintain the new or enhanced product or service once it moves into production. The project director's tasks are supported through the efforts of a project manager and one or more business analysts, [10] who may or may not serve as part of the IT organization's PMO. Sponsors, working clients, CREs, and project directors may have occasional involvement in project delivery, but project managers and business analysts spend nearly all their time doing this work. In the author's view, these circumstances justify an IT center of excellence devoted to these management disciplines. The remainder of this chapter will consider, in greater detail, the function of and value proposition for such a center of excellence: the PMO.

[5]This chapter considers only a limited view of the roles and responsibilities of the total IT organization, those concerning the management and support processes for IT service and project delivery. For two more comprehensive models of IT roles, I offer the frameworks that I developed for the New England Financial and North-eastern University IT organizations respectively. I completed the former with the help of Bob Winn and the latter with the help of Denise Siciliano. See The Hands-On Project Office,, chpt2~2~IT Competencies~model 1 and chpt2~3~IT Competencies~model 2. These models describe in considerable detail the skills required for effective service and project delivery within an IT organization. The second model considers how best to grow these competencies within IT, including the role that the PMO might play in such efforts.

[6]When the IT team's relations with a particular line of business are frayed or when successful IT deployments call for a truly in-depth understanding of the business in question, the reader might consider recruiting someone with the appropriate skills and knowledge from within the business itself for the CRE role. Alternatively, you might find a now-retired working client who would find the CRE role interesting and not particularly taxing.

[7]The project scorecard is a snapshot of project status. Chapter 5 considers the scorecard in greater detail.

[8]This is a practice that I recommend highly. If the project director is ultimately to own the fruit of his or her labor, this person will ensure that the product is well built and easily maintained. For that matter, the project director with an operational stake in the product's outcome will pour his or her experience into the solution's design. As a result, the IT product will tend to fit more appropriately the business process it is meant to serve.

[9]Because it is useful, if not essential, for the project manager to develop of body of knowledge around a particular line of business or a family of information technologies, I have often assigned project managers their project portfolios aligned along one of these axes. Over time, the project manager develops a solid understanding of the business needs and issues common to his or her portfolio of assignments. The down side of the portfolio approach is that the project manager may get co-opted by the very line of business he or she services, thus losing objectivity. If this occurs, I would reassign the project manager to some other set of tasks.

[10]Another version of these roles and responsibilities, authored by Pat Erickson, manager of the Project Management Office, Information Services Division, North-eastern University, may be found on The Hands-On Project Office,, chpt2~4~PM roles and responsibilities~example.

 < Day Day Up > 

The Hands-On Project Office(c) Guaranteeing ROI and On-Time Delivery
E-Commerce Security: Advice from Experts (IT Solutions series)
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2006
Pages: 132 © 2008-2017.
If you may any questions please contact us: