Projects come from many different sources and for many reasons. Not all should be selected for further study. You must be clear in your own mind about the reasons for recommending a systems study on a project that seems to address a problem or could bring about improvement. Consider the motivation that prompts a proposal on the project. You need to be sure that the project under consideration is not being proposed simply to enhance your own political reputation or power, or that of the person or group proposing it, because there is a high probability that such a project will be ill-conceived and eventually ill-accepted.
As outlined in Chapter “Understanding and Modeling Organizational Systems“, prospective projects need to be examined from a systems perspective in such a way that you are considering the impact of the proposed change on the entire organization. Recall that the various subsystems of the organization are interrelated and interdependent, so a change to one subsystem might affect all the others. Even though the decision makers directly involved ultimately set the boundaries for the systems project, a systems project cannot be contemplated or selected in isolation from the rest of the organization.
Beyond these general considerations are five specific criteria for project selection:
- Backing from management.
- Appropriate timing of project commitment.
- Possibility of improving attainment of organizational goals.
- Practical in terms of resources for the systems analyst and organization.
- Worthwhile project compared with other ways the organization could invest resources.
First and foremost is backing from management. Absolutely nothing can be accomplished without the endorsement of the people who eventually will foot the bill. This statement does not mean that you lack influence in directing the project or that people other than management can’t be included, but management backing is essential.
Another important criterion for project selection includes timing for you and the organization. Ask yourself and the others who are involved if the business is presently capable of making a time commitment for installation of new systems or improvement to existing ones. You must also be able to commit all or a portion of your time for the duration.
A third criterion is the possibility of improving attainment of organizational goals such as (1) improving corporate profits, (2) supporting the competitive strategy of the organization, (3) improving cooperation with vendors and partners, (4) improving internal operations support so that goods and services are produced efficiently and effectively, (5) improving internal decision support so that decisions are more effective, (6) improving customer service, and (7) increasing employee morale. The project should put the organization on target, not deter it from its ultimate goals.
A fourth criterion is selecting a project that is practicable in terms of your resources and capabilities as well as those of the business. Some projects will not fall within your realm of expertise, and you must be able to recognize them.
Finally, you need to come to a basic agreement with the organization about the worthiness of the systems project relative to any other possible project being considered. There are many possibilities for improvements, including,
- speeding up a process,
- streamlining a process through the elimination of unnecessary or duplicated steps,
- combining processes,
- reducing errors in input through changes of forms and display screens,
- reducing redundant storage,
- reducing redundant output, and
- improving integration of systems and subsystems.
Remember that when a business commits to one project, it is committing resources that thereby become unavailable for other projects. It is useful to view all possible projects as competing for the business resources of time, money, and people.
- Project Initiation
- Defining the Problem in Project Initiation
- Selection of Projects
- Feasibility Study – Determining Whether the Project is Feasible
- Technical Feasibility – Ascertaining Hardware and Software Needs
- Acquisition of Computer Equipment – Technical Feasibility
- Software Evaluation in Technical Feasibility
- Economic Feasibility – Identifying & Forecasting Costs & Benefits
- Comparing Costs and Benefits – Economic Feasibilty
- Activity Planning and Control – Project Management
- Using PERT Diagrams in Project Planning
- Managing the Project
- Managing Analysis and Design Activities
- Creating the Project Charter & Avoiding Project Failures
- Organizing the Systems Proposal
- Using Figures for Effective Communication in System Proposal