Managing large software projects can be quite difficult under the best of circumstances. Unfortunately, individuals with limited or no experience often rely on survival tips from more experienced co-workers and other individuals in-the-know. To help you, I compiled nine helpful tips that will undoubtedly improve your software project management experiences. The tips themselves originate from Washington DC-based Robert E. Bone, an expert who has an impressive twenty-eight years of IT consulting experience that spans analysis, applications development, requirements gathering, production support, project management and systems administration. He highly recommends keeping these suggestions in mind during your next software management project.
Data Load Early in Migrations
During a migration, consulting companies typically "go months and months" before they attempt to load data. Often when the loads fail due to unforeseen mapping issues, problems with data dictionaries, unknown data sources, and other reasons, the client is forced to grant the consulting company additional funds while project deadlines slip. Therefore, software project managers should seriously consider taking the following advice:
"Front-loading the data loading in the project is a good approach," says Robert E. Bone, who frequently rescues troubled projects. "This can result in millions of dollars in project overrun savings, as well as helping to meet or beat deadlines."
Additionally, this project management approach eliminates the drama that is usually associated with a production cut over - as this approach provides measurable rates of success and improvement in data loads that occur early and throughout the life of the project. Thus, this situation is a marked improvement over an organization having a last minute realization that all might not be right with the data.
Document and Manage Requirements
Often clients and developers alike ignore the importance of properly managing the requirements. For instance, the client usually just wants the project completed early and under budget. However, in reality, disaster awaits the project manager who cannot control the designers, developers - and the client.
It is crucial to create and maintain a traceability matrix for tying developed code back to specific requirements. Why? Because the improper capture of requirements upfront simply inhibits good design. Failing to properly freeze signed-off requirements results in scope creep – i.e. situations where new functionality keeps getting added to the requirements without approval from the client.
"I’ve yet to see anyone be able to defend out of control burn rates (funding that runs out prematurely due to scope creep) due to either building unauthorized functionality or repairing the damage caused by unauthorized functionality," says Bone.