Projecting future success

Today's IT projects face tight requirements on time and budget, targets and expectations. Both finalists for most successful project implementation at this year's Computerworld Excellence Awards have developed projects that have met their targets and left the customer happy.

Today's IT projects face tight requirements on time and budget, targets and expectations. Both finalists for most successful project implementation at this year's Computerworld Excellence Awards have developed projects that have met their targets and left the customer happy.

Broadcast Communications Limited faced a tight 10-month deadline to Project Ceres, a $23 million project to plan, develop and deploy a network to deliver wholesale broadband and voice services from telcos and ISPs to rural and provincial customers. Called Extend, the network needed to be available to at least 86,000 end users in areas with minimal voice and data infrastructure, so BCL needed to use wireless technology to reach potential subscribers around the country. A management centre was needed to administer the network, and operational and support procedures and services would also need to be developed and rolled out. Rather than solve the easy problems first, BCL used an "outside in" approach so that the 86,000 potential subscribers currently without any form of available broadband were the first target of Extend.

The company produced a project charter so that all staff and contractors were familiar with Ceres's aims. A project management office was created with a single project director and a team of project managers. About 50 people were directly involved in project delivery with hundreds indirectly involved.

Because rapidly developing a large product carries an inherent risk, each part of the system was tested with "hot staging" trials.

BCL says Ceres met all or passed all its performance and coverage objectives and was delivered on time, complete and within budget.

The University of Waikato is an awards finalist for its student enrolment system, which aimed to reduce the cost of administrative processing, improve service to students and contribute to the university's growth. Waikato chose the Jade Student Management System to replace its existing system, which was nearing the end of its useful life.

A four-person steering committee oversaw the project, and a project team of four IT staff and 10 key business staff met weekly to review progress. Module teams were set up to monitor the progress of specific areas of the development. A communication plan was prepared so that all staff knew what the project aimed to do and how the Jade SMS functioned. The steering committee also managed risk by ensuring each step of the project had a fallback plan if any part of the project failed to perform. Audit New Zealand was contracted to perform regular quality examinations.

The Jade SMS has now completed its second year of accepting enrolments. The university says the system was completed on time and under budget; enrolments are up by 5% after falling in previous years; the enrolment process was quicker than ever and there were no significant queues when students arrived to enrol in person; and staff are more productive and the system is more flexible.

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