The systems analysis approach is one of the main factors which determine the success of information technology projects. The systems analysis approach takes into account the specific roles and tasks which are performed by a system and aids in the development of a system structure according to the needs and requirements of the project, as well as the installation and the deployment of the IT, projects The needs and requirements which are crucial for any system development, forming an important aspect of product management are determined through the requirements analysis in the needs assessment and product planning phase
Project management is described by the Product Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) as the management of a program which has a pre-established short-termed existence and a definite end date. The IT projects however are specifically those which result in the delivery of information technology-based products, and or systems. A product manager for IT and systems-based projects therefore has different responsibilities than a normal manager.
He is responsible for the supervision, the development, the rollout, the implementation and the post-implementation monitoring and reporting of the systems-based projects while also coordinating the different functions of the project.
The specific duties of the product manager specific for product management pertain to the analysis of the requirements of the information system as per the environment, the designing of analytical studies as wheel as their implementation, the evaluation, monitoring as well as compliance with the legislature and laws governing the project, the procurement of IT services, products, equipment as well as property required for the development of the project and the coordination of the different functions of product management.
The most crucial aspect of the project development for systems is to identify the needs and requirements of the systems and identify the risks that are associated with the project and the mitigation strategies for the identified risks. “Project risk should be reviewed before the project commences. This will allow the project plan to be developed based on an understanding of the risk issues. Reviewing risks before the start of a project also helps to determine if a project should go ahead.” (Leeper & Merz, 1992)
The planning of the project is crucially important as a function of project management. The planning function provides the structure and the guidelines for the development, execution and rollout of the product. The planning of the product constitutes the needs assessment of the users for the system, identification of the requirements of the system and the roles it is supposed to play in terms of providing service to the clients. Aside from this the planning function also provides the outline of the system architecture through the system modeling, and depicts the simulation based analysis through prototyping.
The planning function also provides the basis of the development of the project through the proposed project guidelines for system architecture. Additionally the system planning aspect also helps in identifying the risks associated with the project and provides the specific strategies for the mitigation of these risks at all stages of project development and execution. The budgeting and forecasting of the costs for the project are also performed in the project and systems planning phase, from the product manager’s perspective.
The relationship between planning specific to the system as well as the planning functions in project development is very strong. The top five indicators for projects facing challenges unsuccessfully pertain to lack of user input, incomplete requirements and specification which are attained in the product planning phase, the changing of the requirements and system specifications, the lack of executive support, the technical incompetence as well as lack of project planning.
Moreover the improper management of the project at the hand of the project manager also constitutes as one of the main factors leading to project failures. “Whitaker advises that the three most common reasons for project failure are poor project planning, weak business cases, and a lack of top management involvement and support.” (Williams, 2003)
The success of systems and IT based projects is very much dependent on the initial phases of product development which pertain to product planning and assessment. The ratio of successful projects pertaining to systems and software is very low. “In a 1994 Scientific American article titled “Software’s Chronic Crisis”, the author identified that for every six new large-scale software systems that are put into production, two others are canceled. Further, the average software development project overshoots its schedule by half, with larger projects doing worse. Seventy-five percent of all large systems are “operating failures” that either do not function as intended or simply are not used at all.” (Williams, 2003)
Research has been carried out on the success of projects and the role of project planning, and one such research is by Gesellschaft für Projektmanagement in association with PA Consulting. “According to this study, 38 percent of those surveyed stated that the most common causes of unsuccessful projects are unclear objectives and unclear requirements.” (‘Good Planning Is Halfway to Success’, 2004)
‘Good Planning Is Halfway to Success’, India Times, 2004. Web.
Frese, R., Sauter, V., ‘Project Success and Failure: What Is Success, What Is Failure, And How Can You Improve Your Odds For Success’, 2003. Web.
Leeper, S., Merz, S.K., ‘The Project Managers Perspective and The Importance of Communication’, 1992. Web.
Whitaker, B., ‘What went Wrong? Unsuccessful Information Technology Projects. Information Management & Computer Security’, 1999, 7, 23.
Williams, B., ‘Organizational Factors in IT Project Failures: A Systems Planning Perspective’, 2003. Web.