Saturday 5 February 2022

Working with a project: milestones, features, and artifacts


We begin a series of articles for a quick dive into project management. The entire course in video format can be taken free of charge on Geek Brains. And here is the first lesson in text form - for those who are more comfortable reading.

Stages of the project

  • Any project consists of four stages: initialization, planning, implementation and completion. Let's consider each in more detail.
  • Initialization. The customer comes to the project manager with a request. The manager analyzes the business idea (determines the content and duration of the project), develops a project task and performs strategic planning.
  • Planning. The project manager determines which specialists the team will consist of, what are the scope of the project, its stages and control points for reconciliation with the customer. Also identifies possible risks and calculates resources.
  • Realization. Project helps the team to create the final product or part of it - for this it monitors and controls each of the stages, solves problems, informs the customer about the progress of the project and manages changes.
  • Completion. The project manager delivers the product to the customer, assesses the level of customer satisfaction and the experience gained. Records successes, failures and their causes in order to become more effective and avoid negative experiences in the future.

Design artifacts

Project artifacts are physical storage media that confirm agreements and allow all team members to follow the progress of the project. For example, a contract, a commercial offer, a technical task, accompanying documents, executable files, source code, web pages, data and reference files. At the same time, there is no universal set of artifacts - each project has its own.

Consider how artifacts are distributed at each stage of the project. At the same time, from project to project, the set will be slightly different.

  1. Initialization: terms of reference, commercial offer, contract and annex to it, additional agreement.
  2. Planning: Project plan, roadmap, reconciliation points, and resource plan.
  3. Implementation: the act of delivery and acceptance of works, comments and revisions.
  4. Completion: work instructions, training, act of delivery and acceptance of works.

This is what the main artifacts of an IT project may look like:

  • Terms of reference (goals, requirements, technical documentation).
  • Project passport (data set, participants and their areas of responsibility).
  • Layouts and design.
  • Research results.
  • Results of meetings and other communications.
  • A list of tasks.
  • Results of the project (access, documentation, rights).
  • Plans for the future (improvements).
  • Collect artifacts

The project manager collects project artifacts during the coordination of requirements with the customer and clarification of details - it is better to seem meticulous and avoid misunderstandings than to be modest and misunderstanding the client.

The project discusses the requirements with the team to be sure that everyone understands their task and will do the job correctly. This is another stage at which project artifacts are formed.

The project manager coordinates the results with the end users – this confirms that the team is doing exactly what the customer needs.

The results of each meeting are recorded - this allows you to avoid many unpleasant situations. For example, if the customer asks to develop a new feature that was not spelled out in the original terms of reference, there will be an opportunity to discuss the terms of additional payment and new terms. The client will not be able to say that he spoke about it earlier and you promised to implement it as part of a standard payment. It also won't allow the customer to make some demands and then say, "I saw this very differently." You have everything fixed!

After the meeting, the project sends its results to all project participants, and asks the client to confirm that he has also read them. If he does not answer, then the manager does not hesitate to remind about the letter.

Types of artifacts

Artifacts are divided into formal and informal.

Formal - mandatory, prescribed in the contract, on which are the details of the customer and the contractor. Also formal artifacts include documentation and elements that are indicated in official documents. If the contract says that the performer is obliged to provide the results of the study, then they will be a formal artifact.

Informal artifacts - all the rest of the information: the results of correspondence, messages in instant messengers, records from the flip chart, on which the team records the progress of the project, stickers from the Kanban board and even the RACI matrix.

Types of customers

It is customary to divide customers according to two principles. The first is in terms of the traditional volume of documentation that must be maintained on the project. The second is from the point of view of how the interaction process takes place before the project starts. In this classification, there are four types of customers:

  • State Customer (management, hospital, school).
  • Close to the public sphere.
  • Business customer.
  • Startup (small business customer).
  • There is another categorization of customers - according to it, they can be internal and external. An internal customer is a related department. If Geek Brains orders an IT solution from the development department, which is part of the  Group, it will become an internal customer for it - everything will happen within one company. If Geek Brains sets the task of developing an IT solution to a third-party contractor, it will act as an external customer for him.

Customer's area of responsibility

Working in any project, you need to understand who and with what question to contact: what can the customer decide, what is the manager, and when it is worth getting more information from the team. In order not to get lost at the most inopportune moment, at the start you need to distribute the areas of responsibility. One of the classic tools for this is the RACI matrix.

The RACI matrix is a table in which the project manager horizontally enters the areas of responsibility, and vertically - the performers and other actors on the project (customers, team members, contractors). This tool helps to distribute responsibility even at the stages of project initiation and planning.

In the matrix, four areas of responsibility are distinguished: R - responsible (performs), A - accountable (bears responsibility), C - consult before doing (consults before execution), I - inform after doing (notifies after execution). Let's look at an example.

Horizontally, the zones of responsibility are prescribed, and vertically - the actors. Anna develops the charter, and Ben is responsible for this task. If any of the team members have a question about the charter, he will immediately understand who to contact.

To compile a RACI matrix, you need to perform the following steps:

  • Make a list of processes or areas of responsibility.
  • Highlight functional roles.
  • Make an appointment with the customer and the team.
  • Describe the matrix.
  • Identify non conformity (optional).
  • Monitor the execution of assigned roles.

It is important to observe the basic principles:

  • A should have only one in each task.
  • R should be in every task, and there can be several.
  • Keeping all these things in your head is not easy, but through practice you can become an effective project manager. Try to start your career in the profession with the free Geek Brains course. 


Good luck!

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