In this chapter, we looked at additional tools for tracking and managing your IT project. The more technical metrics that can be used, such as Earned Value Analysis, are often avoided by even experienced project managers. Sometimes its because the process of gather the numbers for analysis is too cumbersome, but often times it's because in the heat of managing the project, these tools are forgotten. Using EVA and the related metrics including SPI, CPI, and CR can help you communicate project health to your sponsor or to your executive team. It helps you avoid discussing details at great length and gives you a quick birds' eye view of the project. Like any numbers or metrics, the data can be manipulated or used in unintended ways, but when used appropriately, they can help you better manage your project and forecast future results more accurately.
Testing is another part of tracking and controlling your project. Testing occurs at various stages of project work and there are many different kinds of testing used in IT projects, depending on the nature of the project itself. A solid testing plan can help find problems earlier in the work cycle and problems are less difficult and less expensive to fix earlier in the project than when they're found at the end of project work or when found by the user.
IT projects typically have external plans that have to sync up to them including implementation or deployment plans, support plans, or operational transfer plans. If these tasks are not part of your formal IT project, it's important to keep the people involved with these external plans up to date regarding your project's progress. Changes in your project's deliverables, scope or schedule can greatly impact these related plans. Developing a communication channel with these external projects can help make sure everyone is on the same page and that all expectations regarding deliverables and timelines are clear and unambiguous.
A detailed and well executed handoff plan help promote a positive perception of the project. It sends the signal that you managed the project well throughout the lifecycle. The user will judge the success of the project in large part through the handoff experience, so it's important to do this well.
There are all kinds of problems that can occur in managing your IT project, many of which can be prevented or minimized simply by using the project management methods we've discussed throughout this book. Problems will still crop up, even in the best planned projects, so we discussed the kinds of problems and possible solutions to a whole host of problems. By understanding what kinds of problems can crop up, you may be able to avoid some of these problems. If not, you can refer to this section to get ideas for resolving problems that sneak up on you and threaten your project's success.
The formulas used in this chapter are repeated here for easy reference:
Planned Value (PV) = Planned % Complete x Total Project Budget
Earned Value (EV) = Actual % Complete x Total Project Budget
Cost Variance (CV) = Earned Value (EV)Actual Cost (AC)
Schedule Variance (SV) = Earned Value (EV)Planned Value (PV)
Cost Performance Index (CPI) = Earned Value (EV) / Actual Cost (AC)
Schedule Performance Index (SPI) = Earned Value (EV) / Planned Value (PV)
Estimate At Completion (EAC) = Project Budget (total project budget) / Cost Performance Index (CPI)
Critical Ratio (CR) = Schedule Performance Index (SPI) x Cost Performance Index (CPI)