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Developing a Project Charter for Municipal Software Projects
The essential first step in undertaking any type of software project (or any other project!) is to draft a Project Charter. The document makes the business case for the project, defines high level goals and objectives and authorizes the project going forward. The Project Charter should be officially adopted by whatever process and governing body your organization uses. You can call the document whatever you wish, but the bottom line is that you must at least address the 6 W’s:
- How Much
Who will be affected by the project? Who will be required to commit resources to the project? What do you hope to achieve? When will the project begin and how long will it take? Which departments, buildings and locations will be affected? Why have you proposed this project? Do you have to sell this project to your staff as well as your governing board?
Even if you are the head of a top-down dictatorial management model, it makes sense to sell your staff on the benefits of the project and create some excitement and anticipation about the coming improvements to the way your organization conducts business. Staff members who feel they have been slighted or not consulted can and will wreak havoc and may sabotage the implementation of the project, so get everyone on board from the beginning.
If you would like to talk about your municipal software project, or anything else, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Political Risks & Ramifications of Software Procurement
Business Process Reengineering and software procurement projects can create political firestorms. In a perfect world, everyone would want what is best for the organization, but this world isn’t perfect. Make sure your governing board is committed to the project and is aware of the possible ramifications and risks. Large, disruptive projects require unwavering commitment at the highest levels of the organization.
Official authorization for the project by your governing body, i.e. Commission, Legislature, City Council, Board of Directors, etc. is essential because it establishes buy-in at the highest level. It is also a smart political move. Your project may change the status quo in your organization and not everyone will be thrilled once they come to that realization. Changes in workflow and business processes may mean that people and departments who hold power, authority or status because of their place in the workflow may perceive that they will lose that status. The workload may be redistributed. Some departments and personnel may have more work and others, less. It will become apparent that some people are no longer required in their current positions and possibly entire departments will be reorganized or become obsolete. Those who perceive themselves to be negatively affected by this coming new order are likely to circumvent you and attempt to interfere with or quash the project.
Here is another project risk: Sometimes people quit during large, disruptive projects. I is quite common. Everyone can be replaced and if you have programs for cross-training, it shouldn’t be a problem. If you don’t currently cross-train and thoroughly document processes and procedures, you have another great opportunity to improve your business processes.by