California Educational Data Processing Association
DataBus - Vol. 38, No. 3
Implementation: Objectives, tasks and monitoring keep your plan on track.
George Sullivan, Northrop-Grumman
Editor's note: This is the second installment of a three-part series on Network Technology Planning. The first installment appeared in the December-January issue of the DataBus.
With the completion of the overall Strategic Technology Plan for your district and buy-in obtained from your superintendent, board, and other stakeholders the next step is to turn this plan into one or more "Projects" which implement your strategic plan.
Objective - What the plan will accomplish and what it will not accomplish. It is extremely important to be clear, lest you foster false expectations. Your project might be installing category 5 wiring in a school. That's it, this is not a complete Local or Wide area network project, it is simply installing infrastructure. Only in conjunction with many other efforts do you have a complete network.
Task List - What will be done? Who will do it? And When will it be completed? The interrelationship of tasks is important here as well. Those of you who cook dinner for your families are good project managers. Some tasks are done in series, and some tasks are done in parallel towards the goal of a satisfying meal served in the proper way. You also learn to allocate resources such as burners on the stove, and food processors, etc. The principles learned here easily apply. If someone can use project management software, it should be used early. It will help manage the project, but more important the graphs produced will make the relationship between tasks clearer. In our wiring project the technical staff might check the blueprints for accuracy, a consultant might design the wiring plan, and a wiring contractor might do the work.
Resources - The plan should identify the resources needed. This should include resources currently available and those needed. The plan asks Who or What is needed, how long and the approximate cost. Remember! Diverting a resource owned by the district isn't free, include the cost implications. Don't figure "we pay that person to do that anyway!"
Project Budget - This is at once essential but almost always initially inaccurate. The costs will be tuned during the RFP process but try to stay within 10%. Potential vendors and colleagues who have done similar projects are excellent potential sources for estimates. At the very least your budget should identify the cost elements. Also, you should explicitly state the risks associated with project slippage both from a schedule perspective and a cost perspective.
Metrics - You grade your students, and project metrics are used to grade the Tactical Plan's effectiveness. These metrics can be divided into two categories: Those which judge the plan's performance and those which judge the effectiveness of the technology which the plan invokes. Why put yourself through this? "Nothing breeds success like success" As you work your tactical plan and your administrations see the results your credibility will rise and things go smoothly. Metrics you might include:
It is important to report meaningfully on progress and costs while work is underway. As mentioned above project manager software makes this a simple task, but even a hand written report highlighting Tasks Accomplished, Tasks Remaining and budget left will update your boss and highlight potential problems. When the project is complete then the next step is to define an Operation Plan. This will be discussed in the third and final in this series on planning.
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