Daily Archives: August 24, 2013

Simplify Your Life with a Systems Conversion Project Schedule

If you are in IT, sooner or later you are going to need to convert some technology, , , install new hardware and software to replace some old equipment and software, or maybe install new equipment and software for a totally new application.

The tool I’m sharing with you in this article is a Systems Conversion Project Schedule. Systems Conversion Project Schedule

In most system conversions or new system installations, there are a few key groups of tasks required to do the job. Something that can help organize your project schedule is to group the detail tasks by category.

In the sample I’ll discuss there are six major categories of tasks:

  1. Assessment – Identifying everything required to complete the project.
  2. Order and organize – Ordering equipment, software and other items as needed plus organizing components of the project.
  3. Infrastructure – Infrastructure and desktop support tasks.
  4. Setup/Installation – Software installations, etc. File build tasks would also be in this category.
  5. Programming – Programming and Business Analyst work.
  6. Training – Training and testing tasks.

You may need other category groups depending upon the nature of your project. Most system conversion or installation projects will have at least the six I’ve listed above.

Organizing the tasks by category group will also help you when you run weekly status meetings to determine the status of the project as it organizes the discussion into logical work groupings.

What I like to do for each task is to put a “/” in the cell for the week the task needs to be completed by. When the task is completed, I change the slash (/) to an “X”. This way, it is very easy to walk through a status meeting quickly by just focusing on this week’s tasks that have not been marked as completed. It also makes it easy to visually see the status of the project.

Another thing to consider for your project is that there will be tasks that are critical to the project, , , in fact they may be bottlenecks that can jeopardize a successful delivery of the project. It’s easy to highlight these tasks for the team by shading the cell that shows the scheduled completion date for the task. By doing this, it will trigger you to ask about the status of the task weeks in advance of its scheduled completion date to instill a sense of urgency on whoever has responsibility for the task.

Project success is much more likely when you organize your project into a solid schedule, assign appropriate responsibility, and check on the status every week.

In the sample there is a generic project schedule along with an actual project schedule sample used for a past systems conversion. Feel free to use these to help you in your next systems conversion or installation.

CLICK HERE to download the customizable Systems Conversion Project Schedule template.

Focus IT Employees with an Effective Employee Performance Plan

IT employees have a huge need to understand what it takes to be successful. They also want to know if they are achieving success.

Two of the highest quality times you have with an employee are when you deliver a performance plan to the employee and later on when you deliver the performance review based upon that plan.

Performance planning and review meetings are excellent coaching opportunities. They give you the chance to spell out exactly what you want from your employee and an ability to reinforce areas where improvement is needed.

I use a simple Employee Performance Plan approach. In each employee’s plan, I target major objectives such as Client Service, Quality, Productivity, or Training & Education. In each targeted area, list specific performance objectives that are important for the employee’s success, , , and that contribute to your IT organization’s success.

Performance Plan

For each major performance area, you should place a weighting factor to help focus the employee on the most important aspects of the plan. It also helps you establish a more objective performance evaluation when you do the review.

Developing a performance plan for an individual can take several hours if you do it from scratch. A tip I like to use is to develop a standard performance plan for each group within my team, , , for example a standard template for programmers, one for business analysts, and a separate standard for Help Desk staff, etc.

I’ll spend a couple hours developing the standard for each group. But, when it comes time to develop individual plans, I simply take the standard and tweak it for the employee I’m developing a plan for.

A good example of this is to use programmers as a group. If you have two programmers you want to develop performance plans for, you start each plan with the same programmer performance plan standard you’ve created. Every programmer has Training and Education, Productivity, and Quality performance focus areas in their plan.

However, the two programmers are very different and should have different levels of focus in their individual performance plan, , , possibly even different action items or responsibilities. For example, one programmer needs stronger focus on quality but not so much in productivity. The other programmer is just the opposite, , , he needs better focus on productivity but not on quality because he does such a good job in programming quality already. You tweak these sections of the plan to for each employee appropriately for what they need.

Creating a standard plan for a job discipline such as programmers or PC Techs will help you develop individual plans for employees within those disciplines much faster and more consistently with one another.

Click on the following links to download the template and sample performance plans I’ve developed and used.

MDE_Performance Plan Template

MDE_Performance Plan-Application Analyst

MDE_Performance Plan-Infrastructure Manager

MDE_Performance Plan-Programmer

Another good tip is to maintain a file for each employee and drop in notes during the year that reflect the positives and “needs improvement” issues so you have reference information to use when you develop the employee’s performance review.

I usually spend a good bit of time on the reviews and try to write constructive reviews that provide the employee with real substance that will help them. You owe it to your employees to do this, , , they work hard for you and need your guidance. Having notes from activities that occurred over the past 12 months helps you provide substance that is reflective of the entire year rather than just the last couple of months.

Above all, don’t miss out on the quality time you have with your employee when delivering their performance plans and reviews, , , it’s too important to neglect.