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The Action (Project) Plan and Cost Justification of the Project

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To migrate to Windows 2000 effectively, you need an action plan. In this selection, the authors show you how to create a project plan and a cost justification scheme.

With the premigration assessment complete, it is time to develop what is typically called the project plan. A "project plan", however, seems to imply something sedentary, a document that sits on the shelf. Let's call it an action plan instead—after all, it must be active; it defines actions that must be accomplished. The action plan defines the scope and the participants in the design of the Windows 2000 enterprise and the migration from the existing environment.

Clearly, the value of an action plan is to put the project in order, make assignments for completing the tasks and subprojects, and provide a visible document that can be used to measure progress and success. By laying out all the tasks and responsibilities in document form, it is easy for design team members to ensure that all necessary parts are there and, most importantly, that they are in proper sequence. Recording comments, progress notes, and completion of tasks is also enabled by a formal plan.

Many possible tasks, projects, subprojects and organizational methods could make up the action plan. The intent here is to present possibilities that can be used, discarded, or expanded upon rather than to define a template to allow the design leader to just fill in the blanks. Although all companies will have commonalities with other implementers of Windows 2000, each will have many differences concerning political organization, geographical organization, security requirements, and applications.

In this chapter, the essential elements of the action plan are described, including these:

  • The design team—Who should be on this team, what expertise the members should have, and what migration assignments should be made.

  • The purpose, objectives, and scope of the migration project—How to define exactly what will be accomplished, and how to measure the project's success.

  • Cost justification—Calculation of return on investment (ROI) and total cost of ownership (TCO) to gain financial support for the project through measurable results.

The Design Team

The design of the Windows 2000 environment involves many people from many organizations and disciplines. To make the migration successful, the designer must enlist their help and form a Windows 2000 design team to ensure that all issues have been addressed and to get people to buy in to the project. The design team should include people who can address the issues noted in this section and any others that may uniquely apply to your organization.

Involve more than one person in an area, if necessary, but try to keep the group small. While the areas of expertise described in this section are typical, the designer must decide whether those areas apply to his situation or whether other areas should be listed. In a manufacturing facility, for instance, engineering, production, and management staffers would need to be involved. A business organization, on the other hand, wouldn't have any of those functions. Likewise, a software engineering firm might not have (or need) any administration over the desktop, so two or three people would comprise the team. This list is intended to give direction and prompt ideas, not to serve as the final answer.

Design Team Members

I talked to one company about the makeup of its design team and learned that it was just made up of people who were interested in joining. I noticed, however, that the people who were interested also held key roles in the existing domain and network structure. The point here is that it is probably more important to find the right people from the right areas than just having those groups represented. These "right people" must have sufficient interest and enthusiasm (as well as time) for a Windows 2000 migration so that they are motivated to meet schedules and to do quality work that will ensure the project's success. Obviously, you need the right disciplines, such as networking and DNS, as well.

Table 3.1 identifies the job titles or functions of design team members from three companies that I worked with on Windows 2000 design reviews. This list is intended to show the diversity as well as commonality of design team members in different enterprises. This should give the architect some ideas of who should make up the design team in an enterprise.

Table 3.1 Design Team Members for Sample Companies

Company A
(Food Industry)

Company B
(Financial Institution)

Company C
(Computer Company)

Director of Business and Technical Services

Network and workstation support


Team member of the Technical Planning Group (two attendees)

Workstation support


Team member of the Workstation Planning Group

Microsoft consulting

Mail and messaging

Manager of the Technical Planning Group


Help desk

Manager of Client Services



Team member of network management (telecom)

Network support

Information systems Management

Program director of Technical Services

Information technology


Team member of Security Services

Information security


Manager of Workgroup Servers

LAN administration


Team member of Workgroup Servers


Applications Network(physical)

While the titles and functions of team members will vary, definite roles in the Windows 2000 migration plan must be filled. The following list identifies these roles. Note that this is a generic list that probably includes some areas that do not apply to your enterprise, or that might not include areas that you need. Use this as ideas to form your own team.

  • Project lead (and documentation)

  • Network infrastructure: DNS administration, routing protocols, and WAN administration

  • Telecommunications

  • Network administration

  • Information technology

  • Network security

  • Messaging

  • Domain administration

  • Application development and support

  • Workstation and desktop

  • Technical support

  • Appropriate levels of management

  • Field office support

  • Engineering

  • Manufacturing and production

  • Management sponsor

  • Consultants

  • Internal special projects

  • Administrators of other OSs that will impact or be impacted by Windows 2000 (NetWare, Banyan Vines, and so on)

Windows 2000 Design Tasks

Windows 2000 design tasks don't exactly map to the titles, organizations, and responsibilities shown above. The members must be assigned to the Windows 2000 tasks listed here according to their expertise.

When the team is identified, the members must be assigned to specific tasks associated with the design, migration, and implementation of Windows 2000. The assignments usually are made by the project leader.

If you read five books on Windows 2000 deployment, you will have five different lists of Windows 2000 design topics. The three companies noted in the previous section all constructed their design teams similarly, but had some differences. For a base, let's list all the tasks that must be covered to accomplish the design. Note that some of the subtopics might not require a separate person to manage them; they are listed with the intent of defining important subtasks, and it is up to the project leader to determine the size of the assignment for each team member. Refer to Table 3.2 for a sample list of design assignments.

Table 3.2 Windows 2000 Design Assignments



Active Directory Design

Namespace design


(Structure and administration for DNS and domain)


Replication topology and site design


Group Policy design and planning

Physical Network Analysis





Remote access






Planning and strategy




Interoperability (resource access and third-party operating systems)

Backup and Recovery


Mail and Messaging






Desktop Deployment




Company-Specific Projects

Testing (performance and sizing)

Again, for comparison, Table 3.3 shows action plan task lists from two actual companies for their Windows 2000 deployment plans.

Table 3.3 Action Plan Tasks for Actual Companies

Company D

Company E

Group policy design and planning

Project manager


Program management

RAS and tunneling

Product manager


Process project manager



Mail and messaging

Active Directory design




Base operating system








Application integration

Domain migration


Directory monitoring


Enterprise administrator


Terminal server




Server monitoring






   Client side caching


   Software distribution


   Wins9x dir svc client


Migration planning


   User accounts




   OU structure




Project plan review


The difference is not only the approach these two example companies take in identifying the action plan tasks, but also in their internal organization, which is quite evident from these two lists. Both lists are valid because they work for their respective situations, and that is most important in a Windows 2000 design scenario. The plan must address not only the issues presented by the migration and the Windows 2000 technical features, but also the internal requirements of the company or business undertaking the migration.

Note that neither plan specifically lists a management sponsor. We can assume that the companies have upper management support for the project but did not list it in the plan. I'm a proponent of listing details and would recommend listing the management sponsor who can carry issues to upper management that need attention; the project manager can manage technical details.

Because Company E's list is considerably shorter than Company D's list, we can assume that Company E has subdivided these tasks to accomplish all the tasks noted in our original task list. Leave task subordination and project planning to the project manager.

The Design "Core" Team

It is likely that the design team will grow as you develop the plan and define design issues. Therefore, it is recommended that you select a core team from this group and secure a management sponsor. This is the initial group that will define the action plan and represent major components of the migration. The core team should include people assigned to DNS administration, network infrastructure, Active Directory design, security, application deployment, desktop deployment, and technical support. The core team has the authority to delegate tasks to others and can reassign tasks to respond to staff outages in order to keep on schedule. They also can represent key areas in the migration, or critical tasks. In addition, they are ultimately responsible for the project and for making decisions.

Perhaps the person with the biggest impact on the migration, and whose support of the migration is critical, is the DNS administrator. The corporate DNS administrator or a qualified representative should be a member of the Windows 2000 design team. Appointing someone else to act as the Windows 2000 DNS administrator will not accomplish the goal because Windows 2000 DNS must integrate well with the corporate DNS structure. Spending time converting this person to your project will pay huge dividends in the future and may be the cause of success or failure of the project.

In Chapter 4, "Namespace Design of the Windows 2000 Active Directory," you learn that DNS is at the heart of Windows 2000. The difficulty likely will lie in convincing the DNS administrator to let the Windows 2000 environment run on Microsoft DNS servers, and spending the time to make sure that Windows 2000 fits in to the corporate DNS structure. How DNS is organized and delegated directly affects the Windows 2000 domain naming scheme as well.

Table 3.4 is a sample form to identify the members of the design team. Note the distinction of core team members. You might want to add other people in responsible positions, specific to your company, to the core team.

Table 3.4 Core Design Team Assignment List

Project Task

Core Team

Assigned to

Project leader



Management sponsor



Active Directory design


Namespace design: DNS



Namespace design: domain



Replication topology and site design



Group Policy design and planning



Physical network









Planning and strategy






Backup and recovery



Mail and messaging









Desktop deployment









*Assumes use of Exchange 2000

The core team's initial responsibilities include the following:

  • Establish the DNS design.

  • Determine the domain namespace design.

  • Review the network infrastructure to ensure that it will support Windows 2000.

  • Design the Active Directory structure, including replication topology and site design, Group Policy implementation, Global Catalog server placement, and FSMO role planning.

  • Design the security model.

  • Ensure compliance with company standards.

  • Certify applications for Windows 2000 deployment. This should include an analysis of the use of SMS versus Group Policy software deployment, design of MSI packages, and so on.

In Table 3.4, a Mail and Messaging representative is listed as a core member. This is assuming the use of Exchange 2000 for a mail system. With Exchange 2000 tightly integrated with Active Directory in Windows 2000, it is important to have the messaging people involved in all phases of the Windows 2000 implementation. If Exchange is not the mail system, this would likely not be a core assignment.


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