At the mention of the acronym, the other members of the team realized that they were moving to the next item on the agenda and got out notepads and pens. Dan turned down the room lights and laid his first transparency on the overhead projector's glass. It showed an arrow going in a circle, divided into three different sections.
"Bill and Tim, you both took the MSF training we held in January, so some of this will just be review. Marilou, I seem to remember that you borrowed the material from the IT library in February. Were you able to go through it?" Marilou nodded. "Good. So, Jane and Marta are the only ones who haven't seen this before. I'll get both of you a copy of the basic material, so you can look it over before the next meeting. For now, I want to go over some of the key points that apply to today's agenda. As we move through this project, we'll spend part of each meeting reviewing the pertinent MSF material for that phase of the project.
"MSF stands for Microsoft Solutions Framework, and it is just that: a framework. It is a set of principles, models, and processes on which we can build our own project-management framework, metrics, and procedures. It is both conceptual and pragmatic, and comes out of the experiences of Microsoft and many other firms as they struggle with using technology to further business goals.
"This arrow represents the ongoing work of the IT department. That work falls under one of these three rubrics: Plan, Build, or Manage. Notice that the arrow is going in a circle, indicating that the work is iterative. In other words, we never stop planning, building, and managing."
He replaced the first transparency with the next one. It showed another arrow going in a circle, but this time the circle was divided into four sections instead of three.
"This diagram shows one of the models of MSF, the Development Process Model. This is a model of the process we are going to follow as we work through our project together. The process has four phases: Envisioning, Planning, Developing, and Stabilizing. In other words, first we have to get a vision for what the problem really is and what our solution might be. Then, we have to do the hard, detailed work of building plans to carry out the solution. Once the plans are complete, we have to develop the solution. Finally, we have to deploy the solution and make it stable and usable. There are many more details to this model which we will fill in as we go along, but that's the gist of it for now."
Jane squinted at the image on the screen. "What are those diamond-looking things at the points of the compass? They look like bases on a baseball field."
"Glad you asked, Jane. Those are milestones. Each phase of the project concludes with a milestone, which is a time for all the members of the team to review progress, resynchronize objectives, and make any mid-course corrections needed. There are also milestones within each phase. We'll cover these as we move through the phases."
Dan turned off the overhead projector and turned the lights back up. He pointed to a box on the credenza. "I have gotten each of you a binder for this project, and I'll be handing out various MSF materials for you to review as we move through the work. One of your assignments for the next meeting will be to review the sections I've already put in the binders. They are the parts of MSF that are specific to developing new software applications. Which leads us to RMS."