The Importance of Project Phases and Management

Reviews Due to the complexity and importance of many information technology projects and their resulting products, it is important to take time to review the status of a project at each phase. A project should successfully pass through each of the main project or product phases before continuing to the next. Since the organization usually commits more money as a project continues, a management review should occur after each phase to evaluate progress, potential success, and continued compatibility with organizational goals.

These management reviews, called phase exits or kill points, are very important for keeping projects on track and determining if they should be continued, redirected, or terminated. Recall that projects are just one part of the entire system of an organization. Changes in other parts of the organization might affect a project s status, and a project s status might likewise affect what is happening in other parts of the organization.

Let s take another look at the opening case. Suppose Tom Walters college did a study on increasing the use of technology that was sponsored by the college president. At the end of the concept phase, the project team could have presented information to the faculty, president, and other staff members that described different options for increasing the use of technology, an analysis of what competing colleges were doing, and results of a survey of local stakeholders opinions on the subject. This presentation at the end of the concept phase represents one form of a management review.

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Suppose the study reported that 90 percent of students, faculty, and staff surveyed strongly opposed the idea of requiring all students to have laptops and that many adult students said they would attend other colleges if they were required to pay for the additional technology. The college would probably decide not to pursue this idea any further. Had Tom taken a phased approach, he and his staff would not have wasted the time and money it took to develop detailed plans.

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In addition to formal management reviews, it is important to have top management involvement throughout the life cycle of most projects. It is unwise to wait for the end of project or product phases to have management inputs. Many projects are reviewed by management on a regular basis, such as weekly or even daily, to make sure they are progressing well. Everyone wants to be successful in accomplishing goals at work, and having management involvement ensures that they are on track in accomplishing both project and organizational goals.

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