6.6. Defining Project Infrastructure
There are two aspects to project infrastructurethe actual infrastructure components such as an intranet, instant messaging, or e-mail and the structure of the project itself, which includes the processes and procedures your project will use. We'll discuss infrastructure in terms of the physical, tangible components and we'll discuss processes and procedures in the next section.
If you recall from earlier discussions in the book, we talked about working with a diverse project team. This diversity includes culture, geography, age, and gender, to name a few. When you're defining your project's infrastructure, you need to be cognizant of the needs of your IT project team. We'll talk about how to form that team later in the book, so you may not be able to complete this segment until you've identified your IT project team members. If they've already been identified, take a moment to think about what technology, tools, or infrastructure might be most helpful to the team. Do they need cell phones, wireless access, instant messaging, a secure, shared website? Think about how you'll run the project and which tools will help you and the team be most efficient. Clearly, you should look to leverage existing assets first such as laptops, computers, Internet access, cell phones, etc.. However, you should also step back and ask if those existing tools will be enough. If team members need to share lots of documents as part of the project, you may want to create a secure website that IT team members can access for downloading, uploading, and sharing project documents rather than e-mailing them back and forth. What kinds of hardware, software, network, Internet, and Web services will be required by the project team?
Beyond technology, you should also think about some of the more mundane but critical infrastructure elements. Do IT team members need office space, conference room space, visitor space, a testing lab, special furniture, a project office, dedicated office equipment (fax, copier, chairs, desk, storage), or communications equipment?
Again, if you have not yet formed your IT project team and are defining and organizing this project with a special team of experts that may or may not be working on the project itself, you may have to revisit these requirements once you have your IT project team. However, in many cases, you'll be able to identify many of the infrastructure needs.
Once you have this list, you'll need to talk with your project sponsor. He or she will need to approve these and provide (or provide access to) these resources. If any of your infrastructure needs are new (to the company), you'll have to take ownership of getting these resources. That might mean working with your telecommunications company to increase Internet bandwidth or provide high-speed access at several new locations. It might mean you have to select and purchase new hardware, software, or furniture. Whatever it is you need for the project and the sponsor has approved, make sure you either get it yourself or delegate this task to someone reliable and persistent. Of course, wait to purchase infrastructure components until your final project plan has been approved (or as close as possible) to avoid making large purchases for a project that ultimately gets dropped. Figure 6.9 shows the results of this step, which is a document outlining all infrastructure requirements (currently known) and approval by the project sponsor indicating the ability to use, commandeer, or purchase necessary infrastructure components. Keep in mind that each of the documents generated in each step can be compiled for approval by the sponsor in one sitting when you submit the initial project plan to the sponsor. However, some project sponsors are busy or may prefer to get these documents one by one, so work with your sponsor to determine the best approach.
Figure 6-9. Project Infrastructure Needs