Project management: The importance of Sharp focus

December 5th 2013

Excerpts from Computers in Business Project Management story ‘The importance of Sharp focus’, published in the Sunday Business Post on 01/12/2013

Leslie Faughnan reports

In a recent interview the importance of expert project management was emphasised by Des Browne, programme manager of IT Force, the contracting and managed services business founded in 1999.
‘We have formally set up a Project Management Office and employ specialist and certified project managers. That enables us to set and maintain standards and to preserve our corporate knowledge base so that all of the experience in the company is built up and consolidated over time.’

In any formal structured management of a project, all of the phases are important, Browne said. ‘But really the initiation phase, the design and definitions of scope and so on, is crucial. We have our own standard process built around that with the Project Charter at the centre. We try to engage with the client and tease out all of the elements and requirements that are to be delivered. We work hard at the early stage to get a clear understanding of the business objective, in plain language and agreed by everyone.’

That process generally involves questionnaires, discussion meetings and more formal workshops.

‘We start the meter running on more or less day one,’ Browne said. ‘This is all very much part of the project process, to get the charter documented. Yet you still have to remain flexible to some degree, as issues or re-defined requirements arise and have to be handled. At the same time you have to be aware of and wary of scope creep.

‘Sometimes it really just involves some change to specifications or other previously agreed elements and just requires some flexibility and mutual understanding.
But all too often there are implications in terms of time and costs that require discussion and decision as early as possible. There can also be potential implications in quality management and even HR that will not seem as significant but should be taken seriously,’
said Browne.

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