How to Establish an IT Project

Thinking about involving an IT specialist in a software development or other IT related project? Your project will work better if you provide a written brief that provides the information they require in order to begin planning and costing your project. This article focuses on business rather than technical issues and is relevant to other types of projects.


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    Write the project brief - it should focus on the 'big picture'. This is a broad, high-level view of the project and it is important to focus on making sure that the breadth of the problem is stated. It is possible to get side-tracked or involved in detail when writing a project brief, so bear in mind that it will be verified and analysed by your consultant during project planning. Important or complex areas will be fleshed out as a matter of course. The main areas your brief will cover are:
    • Overview
    • Organization
    • Critical Success Factors
    • Related Projects
    • Breakdown/Decomposition
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    Overview. This is a full explanation of what the project is expected to achieve, in other words the overall outcome and how will it improve the existing situation. This will allow the project scope to be established and the objectives to be defined. You may include information on the general context within which the project is to be developed together with details of the other business processes with which it is associated. General questions to be answered are:
    • What is it?
    • Why is it necessary?
    • Who are the stakeholders/interested parties?
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    Organization. Identify the Project Sponsor and consider who the stakeholders are in your project brief. Generally in a project there are roles to be fulfilled as follows:
    • Sponsor. This is the person in the company who is responsible for the financial outlay associated with the project and for the end decision on extension of the scope or other matters that may affect the financial status of the project.
    • Stakeholders. These can include your staff, customers, suppliers - anyone affected. These are normally best described in a box diagram indicating the structure of the organization, indicating and describing all areas that may be affected by the project.
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    Critical Success Factors. Define those aspects of the project, which are critical to its success so that later on you can gauge whether the project is meeting its objectives. For example, this may relate to deliverable dates for certain aspects or all of the project, critical performance or functionality that absolutely must be achieved. Fixed business changes or developments that must result from the project or any other issues that may be apparent at this early stage which make the project viable. More CSFs will become apparent as planning and design proceeds. However, what you need here is an indication from a high-level business point of view as to what will determine the success or failure of the project. Critical success factors allow measurement at the end of the project as its success or otherwise.
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    Other Related Projects. Identify other initiatives within your organization that may affect this project. Are there any other aspects of your business that are being developed or considered for strategic development which may directly or indirectly affect the project under consideration?
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    Breakdown/Decomposition. The overview is now considered in its entirety and decomposed into two or more sectors which are able to be considered as stand alone phases in the project e.g. there may be separate business areas, sets of business rules and objectives as a subset of the main project.


  • Research off the shelf software applications before approaching a custom software developer.
  • Give your software developer a written brief.
  • Always be ready with your answers to customers questions


  • When you start speaking to vendors your ideas will change. Make sure you update your brief to reflect this. Make sure all vendors are working off the same copy of the brief, otherwise it gets confusing!

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Categories: Information Technology Careers