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Timeline?

Timeline?

I have to create a timeline for my Museum for implementation. And so far this project has been slow. It is a large project with lots of people involved. Any thoughts on how to get started on estimating this?

Christine Sonnabend Vitto
US Holocaust Memorial Museum
cvitto@ushmm.org

Edited by: - 01-Jan-70 09:00:00

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Re: Timeline?

Christine,

First, a caveat: I'm not a professional project manager. My recommendations are based on personal experience. Apologies if much of this is old hat to you.

It's not possible to give you true estimation because each project is different. It's not clear to me what is your project scope and what resources you have for this project.

All projects are governed by Time, Resources, and Scope. Each aspect is influenced by the other. If you don't have enough Resources but the Scope is fixed, you'll need to expand the Time. If your Resources and Time are fixed, your Scope may need to be changed.

1. Define the scope of your project
You wrote "implementation". How do you define that? Is it EMu "being used as a production database by everyone" or "get all records into EMu".

2. Identify the resources available
Who do you need? Are they usually the same people for most of the tasks? Your resources may include people outside of your core working group.

3. Identify total time allocated to the project
- Is this pre-determined, i.e. the Museum Governing Board had already set a deadline for delivery?
- If it's fluid and at your disposal, then you'll have more leeway in making this work.

Let's say your Scope = Implementation of EMu for USHMM.
- Make a list of tasks. You can refer to KE's Project Management document to get some ideas of what these tasks may be. Your list should also include tasks that are related to the project but outside of the purview of KE. Ex: network infrastructure, funding acquisition, internal reviews, etc.
- Figure out the details of each task. Details may include dependencies, duration, and resources. You may want to identify milestones, concrete products at certain juncture, such as final design requirements sent to KE. To me (and my senior managers), milestones help break a project into phases and show progress.
- Sum up the tasks duration and that's your time line.

Re. your question of how to begin estimating task duration:
- Go to the experts in each discrete task. Ex: task = development, go to KE and ask how long it may take. This is dependent on your requirements but they can tell you an approximation. If tasks are performed by your IT staff (ex: set up a server, set up an account, etc.), they can tell you how long that takes.
- Don't be optimistic about your scheduling. Always add additional time to account for potential slippage. Ex: if critical tasks fall within the holiday season, shift the tasks around those days.

My experience shows that more time is always needed for the following tasks:
- data analysis and mapping. I've spent up to 3 months doing data analysis; some dataset takes a day, some much more. I recommend working on this and then put it aside, returning to it later. You'll catch mistakes that way.
- preparation for training if you're providing in-house training. When I was at Natural History, I would spend at least one day to prep for a 1-day course.
- testing. Note: testing won't take as long if KE delivers a usable product. If your client spits out more errors faster than you can clear them, stop testing and inform KE.
- report design. Note: much time is usually spent deciphering your user's changing requirements. If you put in place a clear process on requesting report, time will be saved.

Finally, make sure you always have time to listen and respond to your users. User buy-in is critical to the success of any project. To me, this task has a duration = infinity.

Good luck!
Ducky
NMAI

CIS Manager / EMu whipping girl

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Re: Timeline?

Hi Christine,

I am not sure if you have any KE Project Management documentation but I have worked on several large EMu implementations (as a Melbourne KE employee) and if you like I can send you a sample Microsoft Project template that I usually start of with and then modify to suit. This of course was designed from KE's perspective.

Microsoft Project may not be the perfect tool but it does allow you to make regular changes which will update all your timelines accordingly.

Ducky your comments/suggestions are spot on and I think everyone will find these extremely useful.
Regards,

Nick Margiolakis
KE Software (Australia)

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Re: Timeline?

Hi Christine,

First of all, what Ducky said is exactly right. That's project management in a nutshell, there.

I usually start new project plans with just a blank piece of paper and a pen. If there's a firm start or end date, I put that down first and then work either forwards or backwards. Then I'll list all the activities I can think of, as well as any milestones (like a contract being signed) and deliverables (like a project plan document). Next, I'll put arrows between any activities that need to happen in a certain order. As a last step, I'll start putting durations to things, based on how long it's going to take to get each of those tasks accomplished. One rule of thumb that I've heard repeated is that if your task duration is greater than 80 hours, you should break it into smaller tasks.

These skeletal plans usually go through several paper iterations before I even start thinking about MS Project. Project is great for charting your plan, but there's a bit of a learning curve if you haven't used it before.

As for the implementation plan provided by KE, it's great for them, but not particularly helpful for us. We spent an awful lot of time figuring out exactly what data we wanted to track in Emu, which is something that KE expects you to know right off and isn't reflected in their plans.

Is that helpful at all?

-Andy

Andrew Schuricht
Consultant
Springs Preserve, Las Vegas

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Re: Timeline?

Dear Christine

Two things I think you should get clarification on: you write “the project has been slow” so far. My first question to that would be: “Why?” And the next one would be: “ What exactly has been done so far, and by whom?”

Perhaps you have already ansdwered these questions. From chating to you in Chicago, I gathered that you have recently been put in charge of the project. If I were you, I would find out at what has been done so far, what decisions have been made, and then decide on the next steps.

For instance, producing a timeline or project plan should not be the first step when starting a project.
Have you already looked at:

Obtain commitment from the business – make sure you have management’s full support, and start building grass roots support (through communications such as “what’s in it for me?”, objectives and benefits of the project, …)
Define the outcome – why are you implementing EMu anyway? What are you trying to achieve?
Define critical success factors – I selected 7 success factors for our MOA Programme (that’s the name of our EMu implementation project). I then looked at what we needed to do to meet them. I did this at a Programme level (i.e. for the portfolio of all of our five departmental projects). I then asked my departmental team leaders to define what actions they were taking within their departments to meet these 7 success factors. I have attached our success factors FYI.
Adopt processes for project management – I follow (very loosely) the PRINCE2 methodology. But you need not follow a project management methodology at all, as long as you are clear in your mind what needs to be done, and can communicate your requirements to your team and all other stakeholders.
Check staff skills and experience – who is on your project management team? What skills do you need on your team? Does your current team’s skills and experience match your needs?
Determine governance arrangements – who makes what decisions? Who holds the budget? Who decides how funds get allocated to the project? Who communicates to whom? I have attached our programme team structure FYI.
Identify stakeholders - Who are your stakeholders? And more importantly, what are their interests in the project? Do they support your project? Are they actively involved in your project?
Define the project scope - do you want to migrate all existing collections management datasets, or only electronic ones? Will you include “research” datasets in the migration? If like the NHM you are likely to have hundreds of datasets in various formats, it is critical ou conduct a database audit and then rank each database in order of priority for migration to EMu. I would consider this work to be pre-project preparation work.
Plan for management of risk – if you don’t already know what risk management is, I would not bother with it at this stage. But if you wish I can talk to you about that in a separate forum.
Plan for cost management – once you have a good idea of what you want to do, talk to KE and get them to estimate the work for you. Don’t forget that it’s not all about EMu customisation and migration costs. You may need additional staff for your project ( NHM hired a database administrator who will eventually manage EMu, and myself). Think also about whether your current IT infrastructure can support the EMu project. You may need additional servers, or storage for multimedia.
Identify the dependencies with other projects – does the implementation of EMu depend on other projects? Also, look at your team’s commitments to other projects or work.

I realise you may have been given the task to define a timeline, but I would suggest that simply over-looking the steps above may result in problems further down the line. And if there is one aspect that is critical to any project it is communications! But that’s for another day./forum [Wink]

I hope the info above is helpdul.

You may also find the following books useful:
A Guide To The Project Management Body Of Knowledge
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/193069 … p;v=glance
This methodology is mainly followed in the US. Its equivalent in the UK is:
Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2 (PRINCE Guidance)
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/011330 … p;v=glance
Don’t’ follow them “by the book” but adatp them to your project’s needs!

Marion Raiser
MOA Programme Manager
The Natural History Museum, London

Attachment: DONE Project successEDIT 20050810.doc

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Re: Timeline?

Hi,

Sorry its taken me so long to reply. I would like to see the Project template KE uses, please. I´m sure it will help. I will probably be using Project at some point. Thank you.
Christine

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Re: Timeline?

Hi Andy,

This is helpful and I will try it out. It should be a good way for me to work before I use Project. Thank you.

Christine

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Re: Timeline?

Dear Marion,

Thank you! Your document is extremely helpful and so is your methodology. I do think I´ve been going about this all wrong, and because everyone is in such a hurry all of a sudden, I have not been able to really do the right planning. Thank you!

Christine

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Re: Timeline?

Ducky,

What you are saying makes a lot of sense. I need them to allow me the time to do this. Thank you for your suggestions. I´m sure I´ll be using them.

Christine

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Re: Timeline?

Hi Christine,

Apologies for the late posting of the Project Template that KE uses but I thought this had been replied to by someone at KE.

KE has a general template that we use and this considers the larger tasks - between KE and the client. It does not include any details on the tasks that need to be completed within KE or within the client site as these are very specific to each project so a general use one is a bit difficult to create.

I am currently unable to attach a .mpp file or even a zip file so until this is resolved could you please email me directly and I'll email you the file? - My email address is: Nick.Margiolakis@mel.kesoftware.com

Once the problem has been fixed I'll post the file through this forum as others may find this useful.

Please let me know if you need anything else.
Regards,

Nick Margiolakis
KE Software (Australia)

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Re: Timeline?

Hi everyone,

As promised here is the attachment. Thank's Forbes for enabling this.

Attachment: KE EMu-Design-Develop-ImplementV1-1.mpp

Regards,

Nick Margiolakis
KE Software (Australia)

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Re: Timeline?

Realizing that this conversation is a couple of years old, thanks Nick for posting the MS Project plan. For future readers who may not own Project, you can open MS Project documents for review in Open Project, an open source project management solution.

It is available for free at:

http://openproj.org/

Will Scott
Museum and Database Consultant

Will Scott
Museum & Database Consulting
www.willscottconsulting.com

Will Scott (Museum & Database Consultant)
Museum & Database Consultant
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Re: Timeline?

How can I get a copy of the Microsoft Project template?  When I tried to download it, I only get a html page that does not display the template.  Please help.

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Re: Timeline?

Is there a project plan template available for KE eMU installation?

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