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1.3 Project Management at Infosys

Infosys executes hundreds of projects each year. Full responsibility for executing a project rests with the project manager, who must make sure that the project team delivers high-quality software to the customer on time and within cost. To help the project manager fulfill this responsibility, support from the organization is necessary. This section provides a brief background on Infosys and its support for managing projects.

1.3.1 Background: Infosys

Infosys is a software house headquartered in Bangalore, India. Its stated mission is "to be a globally respected corporation that provides best-of-breed software solutions delivered by best-in-class people." It employs the global delivery model, in which the customer can be located anywhere in the world and customer fulfillment can be provided from anywhere. In this model, the customer is sought anywhere in the world where it provides the most value to the company. For customer fulfillment, a combination of processes, technology, and management is employed to segregate the work so that value can be added in the most optimum locations and then reaggregated for delivery to the customer.

Infosys currently employs about 10,000 people, with about 15 development centers in four countries and offices in more than a dozen countries. The company was founded in 1981 by seven software professionals with an equity base of only $300. Today, Infosys has a market capitalization of more than $8 billion (based on market rates in June 2001), and its revenue was more than $400 million in 2000 (revenue in 1994 was $9.5 million). Its customers are spread across the globe and include major corporations—more than 60 of them being Fortune 1000 companies—that are engaged in diverse businesses such as banking, retailing, manufacturing, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, and transportation.

Infosys is a highly respected company that has been rated as the best managed and most respected company in India and one of Asia's leading information technology (IT) companies. It has bagged many awards, including the Ramakrishna Bajaj award, which is modeled after the Malcolm Balridge award. It can be safely said that Infosys is one of the best software services corporations in the world.

Infosys provides a top-notch infrastructure so that its project managers can better serve the needs of its worldwide customers. The company has provided audio conferencing facilities to almost every group so that project managers can interact easily with customers and with group members located in different sites. Similarly, a state-of-the-art video conferencing facility is used for interaction among the company's various locations as well as for virtual meetings. Its main campus in Bangalore is now one of the largest software service facilities in the world, with work-related facilities such as a library, extensive computing and networking facilities, training facilities, discussion rooms, projection facilities, and so on, as well as recreational facilities such as an art gallery, a health club, and facilities for tennis, basketball, and so on.

Process orientation and improvement are a part of the Infosys work culture, and processes are defined for most tasks that are performed regularly. For process definition and improvement, Infosys first adopted the ISO 9000 framework and got its ISO certification in 1993. To further improve the software process, Infosys then adopted the CMM framework. It was first assessed at level 4 in December 1997, and then at level 5 in December 1999. In its pursuit of continuous improvement, Infosys now employs the Malcolm Balridge framework for all-around improvement and building leadership excellence in all areas of operation.

1.3.2 SEPG Support to Projects

The quality department at Infosys contains the software engineering process group (SEPG). The SEPG is responsible for coordinating all the process activities, including process definition, process improvement, and process deployment. It also manages all information and data related to the use of processes (such as the process database and the process capability baseline, which are discussed further in Chapter 2).

Although the responsibility for all aspects of delivery, including quality, belongs to the project team, the SEPG facilitates the project team in following the right processes. The SEPG also forms an independent channel for monitoring and reporting to senior management on process and quality issues. Because "processes won't stick by themselves,"6 the SEPG helps to ensure that the defined processes are implemented and become standard practice.

To this end, in addition to offering training on processes, the SEPG provides a member who is associated with a project as a software quality adviser. The quality adviser assists in defining and following processes, ensures that the processes are followed, aids in analyzing the data, and provides any needed process training. Because the adviser is well versed on processes, guidelines, and so on, the adviser's main help comes during project planning. The adviser also reviews the project plan to ensure that it contains all the key elements.

In addition to providing consulting and help with processes and metrics, the Infosys SEPG schedules and manages regular independent audits (see Chapter 11) to ensure that the defined processes and standards are being followed.

1.3.3 Senior Management Involvement in Projects

Infosys prides itself in providing value to its customers through delivery excellence. Everything at Infosys, including its organizational structure, is driven by the aim of serving customers efficiently and effectively and quickly tapping new business opportunities.

For delivery of customer services, Infosys has many business units. Within a business unit, a team, headed by a project manager, executes a project. The project manager is responsible for all aspects of project execution, from determining the requirements to final installation of the software. The project manager reports to a business manager, who in turn generally reports to the business unit head.

To handle situations that cannot be resolved by the project manager, senior management involvement in projects is essential. At Infosys, the business manager regularly interacts with the project manager and monitors the project through status reports and milestone reports (discussed in Chapter 11). In addition to regular monitoring, the business manager also helps to resolve issues and problems that cannot be handled by the project team and are escalated to his level (escalation is discussed in Chapter 8). The business manager also interacts with customers to ensure that they are satisfied and that any issues are promptly raised and addressed.

In addition, other senior people also review projects periodically by regularly taking part in internal audits (discussed in Chapter 11). Through two systems—called PRISM (project review by senior management) and IPM (integrated project management)—milestone reports and project plans are available for senior management to review. All senior managers are expected to review some projects periodically through this system and to give feedback to the project leaders.

Overall, senior management maintains involvement in the project primarily by monitoring to ensure that the project objectives are met and that the customer is fully satisfied.

1.3.4 Training for Project Managers

Because project managers have the main responsibility for satisfying the customer, they need to master not only executing the technical aspects of a project but also interacting with customers, eliciting requirements, managing the team, and so on. Clearly no one is likely to possess all the skills needed, so it's crucial to train people to develop the necessary skills. Infosys has implemented a variety of programs to help people transition from being engineers to being project leaders.

All fresh entrants undergo a three- to four-month induction training program. In addition to training in engineering and technology, this program contains one- or two-day programs in business etiquette, written communication, public speaking, body language, and so on.

Later, when engineers are ready to become module leaders (those who manage the development of a system module, especially in larger projects) or project managers, they attend a series of technical and soft-skills training programs. Included in the former is a five-day project management course that focuses on all aspects of project management: planning, monitoring, controlling, and so on. A two-week course on requirements specification and management teaches how to elicit requirements, how to document them, how to verify them, and so on. The five-day residential soft-skills training program includes modules on appraisals and team management, customer focus and customer management, leadership, social and business etiquette for different countries, and so on.

Other regularly offered programs focus on various aspects of management; project leaders take these courses when their schedules permit. Also, team-building workshops are conducted by professionals.

1.3.5 The Project Management Process

For a project team to successfully execute a project, it must perform hundreds of tasks, many of them interdependent. Effectively managing this process is extremely important for success. At Infosys, the set of activities executed by a project manager is specified in the project management process. It is fairly standard, having three main stages:

  • Project planning
  • Project execution
  • Project closure

In the project planning stage, the project manager reviews contractual commitments and creates a plan to meet them. Creating a project plan involves defining a life-cycle process to be followed, estimating the effort and schedule, preparing a detailed schedule of tasks, and so on. It also includes planning for quality and configuration management as well as risk management. In this phase, the major activities of the project manager are as follows:

  • Perform startup and administrative tasks.

  • Create a project plan and schedule.

    • Define the project objectives.

    • Identify a suitable standard process for project execution.

    • Tailor the standard process to meet project requirements.

    • Define a process for managing changes in requirements.

    • Estimate the effort.

    • Plan for human resources and team organization.

    • Define the project milestones and create a schedule.

    • Define the quality objectives and a quality plan to achieve them.

    • Make a defect prevention plan.

    • Identify risks and make plans to mitigate them.

    • Define a measurement plan for the project.

    • Define a training plan for the project.

    • Define project-tracking procedures.

  • Perform a review of the project plan and schedule.

  • Obtain authorization from senior management.

  • Define and review the configuration management plan.

  • Orient the project team to the project management plan.

In addition to the project manager, this phase involves the customer, an SEPG representative, and the business manager for the project. The entry criterion is that the contract or project authorization is available. The exit criterion is that the project plan has been documented and group reviewed (see Chapter 10).

The second phase, project execution, involves executing the project plan, tracking the status of the project, and making corrections whenever project performance strays from the path laid down in the project plan. In other words, it involves tracking and controlling the implementation of the project process. This phase is the longest in the project management process, incorporating periodic tasks such as monitoring project status and quality and taking any needed corrective steps. In this phase, the project manager performs these main activities:

  • Execute the project as per the project plan.

  • Track the project status.

  • Review the project status with senior management.

  • Monitor compliance with the defined project process.

  • Analyze defects and perform defect prevention activities.

  • Monitor performance at the program level.

  • Conduct milestone reviews and replan if necessary.

Other members of the team also participate in this stage. The entry criterion is that the project plan is complete and approved, and the exit criterion is that all work products delivered are accepted by the customer.

The last stage of the project management process, project closure, involves a systematic wind-up of the project after customer acceptance. The main goal here is to learn from the experience so that the process can be improved. Post-project data analysis constitutes the main activity; metrics are analyzed, process assets (materials, such as templates and guidelines, used to aid in managing the process itself) are collected for future use, and lessons are recorded. Because learning from the project is the main goal, this is a group activity that involves the project manager, the SEPG, and other members of the team. The entry criterion is that the customer has accepted the work products. The exit criterion is that a postproject meeting has been conducted. The main outputs of this phase are the project closure report and the collected process assets.

The remainder of this book discusses the various elements of this management process. Part I includes separate chapters devoted to key planning activities, such as process definition and tailoring, risk management, effort and schedule estimation, quality planning, and configuration management planning. The other tasks in the planning phase (such as human resource planning, project organization, tools to be used, project tracking procedures, and so on) are discussed briefly in Chapters 7 and 8. Part II includes chapters on project monitoring and controlling and on project closure.

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