1. Internal IS Personnel
When selecting IS project team members, it is important to select representative staff who:
In a discussion of the utilization of consultants, Tom Ahern observes that "because consultants are outsiders, and they don't know the corporate culture, they can ask the dumb questions that no one else would dare ask".
When selecting consultants, it is important to engage representative personnel who:
3. Contract Programmers
When selecting contract programmers, it is important to select personnel who:
One caveat to stated technical capabilities is expressed by Robert Half in Robert Half on Hiring as a warning: "Credentials are not the same as accomplishments".
4. Business Participants
Systems are built both for the benefit of the organization, as well as the business clients who will utilize the new capabilities. Unless the project team is developing a commercial software package based on the experiences of the developers themselves, the team will need to spend a considerable amount of time with the targeted business clients. Determining who these people will be, what role they will play during the development effort, and how much of a time commitment will be required from each, are all critical decisions which must be weighed carefully.
When selecting the business area representatives and participants, it is important to select representative staff who:
5. Business Decision Makers
The last critical activity remaining is to identify the client decision makers. The importance of these selections can not be overemphasized. Ultimately, the quality and timeliness of the resolutions provided by the decision makers will have an enormous impact on the success or failure of the project. Should it be a single person? Not necessarily, sometimes it may be an appointed task force or steering committee. But in either case, the decision maker, or the decision making body, should be available to resolve these sorts of items:
Once the decision forum has been established, some thoughts on how the process might work are in order. First, make sure that the required decision has not already been made. Check for policy and procedure manuals, industry standards and guidelines, or existing memorandums which may already contain business policy answers. If a new business course is contemplated which is significantly different from the established way of doing things, the decision makers need to be contacted. Elting E. Morison, in his writings on this topic, states that "the executive exists to make sensible exceptions to general rules". This should also be a tenet for the client decision maker.
Second, an understanding of when the timing is correct for making the decision is required. A incorrect decision based on partial or half-baked information can produce painful results. The team should wait until all information relevant to the decision has been collected before approaching the decision maker. This insures than a high quality, informed decision results. Many times, it can be helpful to present a list of decision alternatives along with the project team's recommended course of action. This puts the decision maker into the position of having to make a choice, rather than risking his or her feeling overwhelmed by the potential unexplored options.
The Non-Information Systems Project Manager
Having a business area manager shift his or her current duties in order to become responsible for the day to day activities of the project on a full-time basis, effectively makes the project directly answerable to the concerns and issues of the business. The project sponsorship becomes tangible and accountable. The team focus can be better directed at the business requirements rather than technology for the sake of technology.
The decision process can be much more responsive and effective. Budgets and schedules can be monitored, and the impact of scope increases and changes can be more easily translated into money and time, all in terms the business manager can utilize for effective decision making. With the business project manager right at the scene, the impact of scope increases and change orders become very real.
In some cases teaming the non-technical manager with a technical counterpart can make the decision process even more responsive and sensible. The Business area project manager can offer decisions and guidance surrounding business requirements and project scope, while the technical project manager can provide decisions and guidance centered on the technical aspects of the effort.