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Project Planning Activities

The project planning activities do not need to be performed linearly. Figure 3.8 indicates which activities can be performed concurrently. The list below briefly describes the activities associated with Step 3, Project Planning.

Figure 8Figure 3.8: Project Planning Activities

  1. Determine the project requirements. You may have already prepared the objectives for the project and some high-level requirements for the proposed scope during Step 1, Business Case Assessment. However, most likely they are not of sufficient detail to start the planning process. As part of the scope definition, review and revise the following requirements: data, functionality (reports and queries), and infrastructure (technical and nontechnical).

  2. Determine the condition of the source files and databases. You can neither complete the project schedule nor commit to a delivery date without a good understanding of the condition of the source files and databases. Take some time to review the data content of these operational files and databases. Although you will perform detailed source data analysis during Step 5, Data Analysis, right now you need to glean just enough information to make an educated guess about the effort needed for data cleansing.

  3. Determine or revise the cost estimates. Detailed cost estimates must include hardware and network costs as well as purchase prices and annual maintenance fees for tools. In addition, you must ascertain the costs for contractors, consultants, and training. A more indirect cost is associated with the learning curve for the business and IT staff members. Remember to factor that into the cost estimates as well as the time estimates.

  4. Revise the risk assessment. Review and revise the risk assessment performed during Step 1, Business Case Assessment (or perform a risk assessment now if you skipped that step). Rank each risk on a scale of 1 to 5 according to the severity of its impact on the BI project, with 1 indicating low impact and 5 indicating high impact. Similarly, rank the likelihood of each risk materializing, with 1 being "probably won't happen" and 5 being "we can almost count on it."

  5. Identify critical success factors. A critical success factor is a condition that must exist for the project to have a high chance for success. Some common critical success factors are a proactive and very supportive business sponsor, full-time involvement of a business representative, realistic budgets and schedules, realistic expectations, and a core team with the right skill set.

  6. Prepare the project charter. The project charter is similar to a scope agreement, a document of understanding, or a statement of work. However, the project charter is much more detailed than the usual 3- to 4-page general overview of the project that contains only a brief description of resources, costs, and schedule. The project charter is a 20- to 30-page document developed by the core team, which includes the business representative. Present the project charter and the project plan to the business sponsor for approval.

  7. Create a high-level project plan. Project plans are usually presented in the form of a Gantt chart that shows activities, tasks, resources, dependencies, and effort mapped out on a calendar (Figure 3.7). Some project managers also create Pert charts, which show the graphic representation of the CPM on the calendar.

  8. Kick off the project. Once you have planned the project, assigned the resources, and scheduled the training, you are ready to kick off the project. This is usually accomplished with an orientation meeting for the entire team (the core team members as well as the extended team members). Project kickoff should also include setting up communication channels (e.g., newsletters, e-mails, Web pages) with the rest of the organization to keep stakeholders and interested parties up-to-date on the project's progress.

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