Joris van Zundert
This project management handbook is intended for anyone who is involved in or will be involved in projects that take place within or are conducted in association with DANS. The text, however, has been prepared in such a way that it can be used by other organisations, particularly those in the non-profit sector, that use project-based working methods.
The book is comprised of several sections. The first section (Chapters 1 through 4) provides an overview of project management. These chapters address the theory of the waterfall method, which is applicable to most projects. The second section of this book (beginning with Chapter 5), addresses cyclical forms of project management, which are more appropriate to IT-related projects. These methods are particularly well suited for software development and other creative IT projects. The penultimate chapter addresses the working methods of DANS. This method is a combination of elements from both the waterfall and the cyclical methods. The last chapter of this handbook discusses how organisations can manage the dynamics of carrying out several projects at once. The most important difficulties are addressed, along with strategies for dealing with these problems.
‘This document includes a number of standard documents that can be used for directing projects, as well as a number of references to open-source project instruments developed by third parties. A literature list is included at the end of this book for those who wish to delve more deeply into the broad field of project management.
Important message of the Author
In this book about project management a lot of the examples are ICT related. The reason for this is that the original client of the Book (Data Archiving and Networked Services) is an ICT organization. However, the project management courses that www.projectmanagement-training.net offers cover a much wider area of project management than ICT project alone. Please click here to download the book on project management in .doc or .pdf format.
Anyone who has ever worked on a project will agree that making a project succeed is no simple task. The difficulties manifest themselves in (extreme) delays, (extreme) budget over-runs, inadequate results, dissatisfied customers, high stress among the project team and other undesirable outcomes. What is the cause of all of these problems?
Projects are characterised by four features: a group of people, a goal, limited time and money and a certain level of uncertainty regarding whether the goals will be achieved. Project managers are involved with all of these aspects. Supervising and directing a project is thus anything but an easy task.
Projects are becoming increasingly common. Project-based working methods have also found their way into non-profit organisations, including DANS. The rules of the game for projects in non-profit organisations differ from those in commercial organisations. Political factors play a particularly important role in non-profit organisations. This makes it even more difficult for projects to succeed, compared to projects in which commercial aspects play a part. Project leaders should be aware of this and be able to play the game of politics.
After several years of experience with IT projects, the authors of this handbook have become even more keenly aware of how IT projects differ from regular projects. Most importantly, projects are more dynamic, and that has both advantages and disadvantages. We have established that IT projects require an approach that differs at least partly – from the approaches that are appropriate for construction, re-organisations or other types of projects.
This handbook is intended for projects that are conducted by DANS. The first section describes a working method that can be followed for traditional projects. The second section describes the working method for IT projects, particularly those that involve software development. This handbook presents a practical model that will allow project members, project leaders, project managers, general managers, program managers, customers and project partners to play their roles within DANS better.
It is impossible to learn all there is to know about the field of project management. Theoretical development and practical experience are continually producing new insights. This handbook is therefore incomplete, and it will grow along with new developments in the area of project management. To make this possible, we have chosen to publish the text under a creative-commons license. This means that anyone is free to use, copy or change the text. Most importantly, it means that anyone who feels that the text is in need of additions or improvement should not hesitate to do just that!
The Hague, May 2006
This chapter provides a sketch of the traditional method of project management. The model that is discussed here forms the basis for all methods of project management. Later chapters go into more depth regarding a model that is particularly appropriate for IT-related projects.
Dividing a project into phases makes it possible to lead it in the best possible direction. Through this organisation into phases, the total work load of a project is divided into smaller components, thus making it easier to monitor. The following paragraphs describe a phasing model that has been useful in practice. It includes six phases:
- Initiation phase
- Definition phase
- Design phase
- Development phase
- Implementation phase
- Follow-up phase
Figure 1: Project management in six phases, with the central theme of each phase
This appendix contains a description of the eleven most common causes of delays in projects. For a detailed analysis of these and other causes of delays, see the works by McConnell and by Goldratt (McConnell, 1996, Goldratt, 2002).
- Expansion of functionality
The expansion of functionality is a phenomenon in which new functionalities continue to be conceived and requested as the project proceeds. The software can never be completed in this way.
- Gold plating
Gold plating is a phenomenon in which programmers and designers try to make many details of the software or design too elaborate. Much time is spent improving details, even though the improvements were not requested by the customer or client. The details often add little to the desired result.
- Neglecting quality control
Time pressure can sometimes cause programmers or project teams to be tempted to skip testing. This frequently causes more delays than it prevents. The time that elapses before an error is discovered in the software is associated with an exponential increase in the time that is needed to repair it.
- Overly optimistic schedules
Overly optimistic schedules place considerable pressure on the project team. The team will initially attempt to reach the (unrealistic) deadlines. These attempts lead to sloppy work and more errors, which cause further delays.
In this regard, be particularly wary of schedules that are imposed from above. The desire to complete a project (more) quickly sometimes arises for primarily strategic reasons; if it is not feasible, however, it should not be attempted. The project will not proceed more quickly and the product will ultimately suffer.
- Working on too many projects at the same time
Dividing work across many different projects (or other tasks) causes waiting times that lead to many delays in projects.
- Poor design
The absence (or poor realisation) of designs leads to delays, as it requires many revisions at later stages.
- The ‘one-solution-fits-all’ syndrome
Using the right software for a project is important. Some software platforms are more suited to particular applications than others are. Thinking that the use of particular software will greatly improve productivity, however, is also a trap.
- Research-oriented projects
Projects in which software must be made and research must be conducted are difficult to manage. Research is accompanied by high levels of uncertainty. When or if progress will be achieved in research is unclear. When software development is dependent upon the results of research, the former frequently comes to a standstill.
- Mediocre personnel
Insufficiently qualified personnel can cause project delays. Technically substantive knowledge of the subject of the project plays a role, as do knowledge and skills in working together to play the game of the project.
- Customers fail to fulfil agreements
Customers are not always aware that they are expected to make a considerable contribution to the realisation of a project. When customers do not react in a timely manner to areas in which they must be involved, projects can come to a standstill. Worse yet, the team may proceed further without consulting the customer, which can lead to later conflicts.
- Tension between customers and developers
The tension that can arise between customers and developers (e.g. because the project is not proceeding quickly enough) can cause additional delays, as it disturbs the necessary base of trust and the working atmosphere.
This appendix provides definitions for the various roles of people who are part of a project.
- Project members/Project team
The project members are the team members of the project those who actually carry out the project and those who have tasks within the project. Team members often have differing areas of expertise. Team members can be internal (company personnel), external (from project partners, customers, users or temporary personnel) or both.
- Project leader
The project leader is the one who directs the project team and has ultimate responsibility for the project result. Depending upon what has been agreed, a project leader can obviously delegate responsibility to team members, and external managers may be responsible for some components of the project.
In cyclical projects, the project leader represents the interests of both the customer and the programmers. Project leaders ensure that customers receive adequate technical explanation and help them to choose and prioritise functionalities.
- Project manager
The terms project leader and project manager are often used interchangeably. A project manager is usually responsible for multiple projects, while a project leader usually has only one. Project leaders are thus located closer to the work floor than are project managers, who are usually more involved with direction and numbers. Other meanings and definitions also exist, and the terms are often used interchangeably.
- Programme manager
The programme manager is the one who evaluates a number of projects within an organisation. Project leaders and project managers report to the programme manager, who is often a member of the management team.
The customer is the entity that has ordered the project result. Customers may participate actively in the project or maintain a greater distance. Although customers are sometimes also the users of the project result, this is not always the case. Consider the example of a university that wants a web application for its employees and students. In this case, the university is the customer, and its employees and students are the users.
Users are the people who will actually use the project result. It is important to involve the users in the definition phase, design phase and in the testing of the project result
- Project partner
The project partner is a third party (organisation) with whom the project is conducted. If several parties are participating in the project, it is obviously important to define and delimit responsibilities clearly.
Website where open-source software can be found, including software for managing projects. The following open-source software can be downloaded here.
Xplanner is an open-source software tool for the administration and management of the cycles through story cards (according to the eXtreme Programming working method).
- Open-source CVS (Current Version System) administrative applications that are frequently used include CVS, Subversion and Gnu arch.
- MS Project, Fasttrack and others
MS project is the best-known programme for carrying out the administration of a project and for making Gantt charts (bar graphs).
Fasttrack is another well-known package, and there are many other open-source packages. These programmes are actually suitable only for projects that are conducted according to the waterfall method.
Bugzilla is an open-source programme for the registration, protection and archiving of issues and bugs. This application is used primarily in software development.
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Data Archiving & Networked Services (DANS) is the national organisation in the Netherlands that provides for the storage of and perpetual access to data from research in the liberal arts and social sciences. To this end, DANS works together with researchers and encourages cooperation among scientists. DANS has the form of a network, with a centre that is responsible for the data infrastructure. This centre is comprised of a team of approximately fifteen people who work at the DANS office in The Hague or at one of the research centres throughout the country. For more information, please visit http://www.dans.knaw.nl
Wouter Baars develops software and education. He studied business administration at the Eindhoven University of Technology. Since completing his studies, he has worked on a variety of projects in the area of old and new media. He worked as the project leader for the Waag Society, KPN, the Digitale Universiteit, the Hogeschool van Amsterdam, Noterik Multimedia and the European Commission, among other entities. In addition to his work as a developer, Baars teaches in the area of project management. More information on his work is available on the following website: http://www.wouterbaars.net
Dr. Henk Harmsen is adjunct directeur van DANS (Data Archiving & Networked Services), een nieuw initiatief van KNAW en NWO op het gebied van het archiveren en beschikbaarstellen van onderzoeksdata in Nederland. Henk studeerde alfa-informatica aan de Universiteit van Amsterdam en promoveerde aan de Vrije universiteit van Amsterdam. Hij heeft als bibliothecaris, hoofd van automatisering en hoofd bedrijfsvoering op een breed vlak ervaring opgedaan. Meer informatie is te vinden op:http://www.dans.knaw.nl/nl/over_dans/organisatie/henk_harmsen/
Dr. Henk Harmsen is the adjunct director of DANS, which is a new initiative of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) and the NWO in the area of archiving and accessibility of research data in the Netherlands. Harmsen studied computer applications in the humanities at the Universiteit van Amsterdam and received a PhD from the Vrije Universiteit van Amsterdam. His broad work experience includes positions as librarian, head of computerisation and head of business operations. More information about Harmsen is available on the following website:http://www.dans.knaw.nl/nl/over_dans/organisatie/henk_harmsen/
Rutger Kramerstudied Information Technology at Delft University of Technology. For his graduation project, Kramer was involved with the ECPA Sepia project, in which he collaborated with the Netherlands Institute for Scientific Information Services (NIWI – KNAW) on a meta-data entry application. After completing his internship, he remained with NIWI as a technical scientific programmer. In this position, he worked on a variety of projects, including EVAMP and XPAST, which focused on the disclosure of digital heritage materials. As an information scientist with DANS, Kramer serves as IT liaison and project manager for internal and external R&D projects. He is involved in the Easy Store DMS project for DANS, in addition to providing database disclosure for the Faculty of Letters at Utrecht University.
Drs. Laurents Sesink is an information scientist in the department of Acquisition and Development at DANS. Sesink studied history at Utrecht University and historical information technology at Leiden University. As a former senior digitalisation-services, technical scientific programmer, development-group co-ordinator, senior consultant/project leader and policy worker, Sesink has a broad background in the area of scientific and administrative information services.
Drs. Joris van Zundert is a researcher and developer with the Huygens Institute, which is a subsidiary of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). He studied Dutch Language and Culture at Utrecht University. In addition to and following his studies, he developed a professional career as an independent designer and developer of Internet applications. He later combined education and practical experience while in service for the Netherlands Association for Science and Technology, the Netherlands Institute for Scientific Information Services and the Huygens Institute. In several projects, van Zundert has developed a variety of projects involving Internet applications and digital tools that are specifically focused on (literary historical) scientific use and research. http://www.huygensinstituut.knaw.nl/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=131&Itemid=57&lang=du
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