Billy Sunday once remarked that "more men fail through lack of purpose than lack of talent", and that fact is certainly true when applied to systems projects. One of the primary responsibilities of the team leadership at this point is to convey to the various team members, as well as the involved clients, a "vision" of the final outcome of the phase. This "vision" should include a clear outline of all planned interim and final deliverables, in addition to the expected contents of each.
The "vision" should also include a clear explanation of any analysis models which will be created, as well as an overview of the anticipated techniques which will be employed for each model's development. The eventual purpose envisioned for the results of each step should also be clearly explained, and the planned results should make sense and demonstrate value within the minds of everyone who will be involved. All of this helps to avoid creating misused time, misguided frustration, and misdirected analysis.
Develop a Baseline
Building a baseline provides three important benefits:
1. It forces the project team to collect all of the important information which is already available with a minimum of effort. Usually, pre-existing documents, manuals, and notes are easily obtained and they provide a good starting point for analysis.
2. The process of actually creating a baseline causes the team to "think through" the area under study. This provides the opportunity to become familiar with any unclear terminology, to piece together a first cut of the various models, and to identify any glaring "knowledge" gaps.
3. It provides a foundation on which to build and expand a current understanding of the existing business, on which to develop a long-term view of the future business requirements, and on which to construct a framework for capturing new and innovative ideas. The baseline models quickly become a "vision" of the future system.
A completed baseline can be utilized in several highly productive ways. During any of the planned facilitated sessions, the baseline models can serve as "straw-man" going in position for the area under study. This is an effective productivity booster since the client participants can more easily approach the session in a review/modify mode rather than having to start from scratch. Also, the baseline models give everyone on the team a common communication tool. Both new ideas and existing requirements can be compared and discussed using the baseline foundation.