The management and execution of an IT project in an organization is very similar to the creation of Jazz. Both have a regular general framework; however, each performance sounds different.
I think about this parallelism every time that I execute a project.
The way in which it is necessary to approach the management of the process reminds me greatly of my coping every time that I play a work of Jazz.
According to the text book, every project has a number of stages:
- Initiation. Definition of the idea for the project, examination of the problem and the need, and definition of the business and technological goals.
- Analysis and Design . Analysis of the needs, definitions of the work content, design of the solution, planning of a schedule, tasks for execution, cost evaluation and risk management.
- Implementation. Establishment of infrastructures, establishment of a system, development and installation of adjustments, implementation of processes, construction of reports, building of formats for printing.
- Delivery Test. Quality tests performed by a supplier of the system before it is transferred to the user tests.
- Acceptance Test. Quality tests performed by the users themselves according to processes defined in the design stage.
- Training. Trainings for users at all levels of the organization – senior management, intermediate management, and operational level.
- Go Live. Implementation of the system in a real environment.
- Operation. Ongoing use of the system, continuous improvement, management of changes, support and instruction of users.
A Jazz Tune Structure
A Jazz work has a structure and stages.
Every work has a melody and a set of chords that supports it.
Playing a whole set of chords is called a chorus.
The work of Jazz is performed generally by a band that consists of a number of musicians who play a number of instruments, for instance, piano, bass, drums, and trumpet. When a work of jazz is played, in essence the chorus is played a number of times, as follows:
- Head. The first chorus is played according to the original melody of the work.
- Improvise. Each one of the musicians plays the chorus in turn, one or more through improvisation and self-expression.
- Head. The first chorus plays again according to the original melody of the work.
How to Jazz Your Project?
When we go to perform an IT project, it is important to take care in the performance of the different stages. For every project there is a beginning and there is an end.
However, the performance changes from one organization to another project and from one project to another project.
This is similar to the performance of a jazz work, when the musicians improvise the melody and in parallel maintain the chorus. Thus too at the time of the project performance, we enable flexibility in the process and in parallel we maintain the completion of the stages.
Everybody agrees that the stage of design has decisive importance for the success of the project.
However, there is no one way to perform the design.
Take, for example, two successful projects in the ERP field that were under my responsibility.
In the two projects the content was similar, since the process of acquisition is uniform on the level of the organization. In addition, the size of the organization and the number of users were similar.
First, the design process was long and included meetings with representatives of about fifteen different divisions. We held discussions with each one of the divisions for the purpose of understanding the needs and presenting a solution. To summarize the design stage, we produced a thick document, which greatly describes the processes and the structure of the system.
In the second project, the process of design was relatively short and included meetings with a team comprised of representatives of the organization. The discussions of the analysis of the needs and the presentation of the solution were held in a focused manner in the framework of this team. In the end, we produced a simple document, which describes the main issues of the topics and the principles of the implementation of the system.
Here, two similar projects with similar content, and still there is a great difference between them. I was required to evince flexibility and understanding of the nature of the organization and to perform adjustment of the process. In the first project, the nature of the characterization was essential to recruit the users to the project. This was because of the great difference between the departments and the relative independence of each one of them. In the second project, the organizational culture, the relative centralization enabled the performance of the characterization in the framework of a management staff that concentrated and set the nature of the solution.
The important point is
The management of the project is not a formula of 1+1=2.
It is important to maintain a guideline and complete the stages.
However, it is important to adjust for each and every project the style and version and to allow every one of the project partners (project managers, users, and implementers) to express themselves in a personal manner and still to preserve the melody, the tone, and the rhythm.