Categorizing Information Technology Projects

Another method for selecting projects is based on various categorizations, such as the impetus for the project, the time window for the project, and the general priority for the project. The impetus for a project is often to respond to a problem, an opportunity, or a directive. Problems are undesirable situations that prevent an organization from achieving its goals. These problems can be current or anticipated.

For example, users of an information system may be having trouble logging onto the system or 138 Chapter 4 getting information in a timely manner because the system has reached its capacity. In response, the company could initiate a project to enhance the current system by adding more access lines or upgrading the hardware with a faster processor, more memory, or more storage space. Opportunities are chances to improve the organization.

For example, the project described in the opening case involves creating a new product that can make or break the entire company. Directives are new requirements imposed by management, government, or some external influence. For example, many projects involving medical technologies must meet rigorous government requirements. Organizations select projects for any of these reasons. It is often easier to get approval and funding for projects that address problems or directives because the organization must respond to these categories of projects to avoid hurting their business.

Many problems and directives must be resolved quickly, but managers must also apply systems thinking and seek opportunities for improving the organization through information technology projects. Another categorization for information technology projects is based on the time it will take to complete a project or the date by which it must be done.

For example, some potential projects must be finished within a specific time window. If they cannot be finished by this set date, they are no longer valid projects. Some projects can be completed very quickly within a few weeks, days, or even minutes. Many organizations have an end user support function to handle very small projects that can be completed quickly. Even though many information technology projects can be completed quickly, it is still important to prioritize them. Organizations can also prioritize information technology projects as being high-, medium-, or low-priority based on the current business environment.

Finally

For example, if it is crucial to cut operating costs quickly, projects that have the most potential to do so would be given a high priority. The organization should always complete high-priority projects first, even if a low- or medium-priority project could be finished in less time. Usually there are many more potential information technology projects than an organization can undertake at any one time, so it is very important to work on the most important ones first

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