Wednesday, December 24, 2014

How Does the Cloud Change How a PM Runs a Project?

For Project Managers (PM), new technologies may present an issue regarding the phase structure of a project. What I mean is that when a new technology is rolled out, there seems to be a “buzz” as to how to handle the project using that new technology. The same is being said of Cloud Computing or projects that are related to cloud projects. What I am NOT saying is that cloud projects don’t have their own risks; they do. As a matter of fact, the risks can be substantial in that they can increase the costs in technology and human capital. However, does a cloud project bring about changes in the way a project is run? Should we have a new set of phases and tasks for cloud projects? Are the roots of a cloud project so intrinsically difficult that they demand a new set of project protocols?

Are there new phases?

No, there are no new phases in a cloud project. They remain: Initiation, Planning, Execution, Monitor and Control and Closing. There are new tasks and increased risks in a cloud project but they alone do not create a need to create new phases. However, in a cloud project, new tasks within the traditional phases are necessary. For example, in Initiation, due diligence regarding Software License Agreements (SLAs) is absolutely necessary. In Planning, there has to be a review of how the new environment is established and how the environment that is being replaced is going to be decommissioned. In Execution, attention must be paid to the types of risks that arise and how to resolve or mitigate them. Monitor and Control brings about a task that addresses the costs of implementing the cloud project and continuing the system being replaced. Lastly, in the Closing phase, ensuring that all tasks for decommissioning the system being replaced are completed is highly recommended.

Are there new risks?
Absolutely yes! I alluded to one in the previous paragraph regarding the risks of costs in decommissioning the system that is being replaced. Or should I say, delaying that task. You see, if the system being replaced is allowed to stay active beyond a reasonable and agreed upon time, the costs of the cloud project will balloon to an unsustainable amount where the cloud project will be considered a failure due to no fault of the cloud system. This is probably the greatest risk and the risk the PM must keep a close watch on.
Another risk would be the increase of costs that are associated with company resources requesting the new application before it’s deployed or after deployment, requesting the application for the sake of having it without a having a check point for approval of the application. This can be the highest risk and cost to the project or when the project becomes operational.
Should a PM handle a cloud project differently and how?
Every project brings with it risks that may de-rail the project and render it a failure, and this is no different for the cloud project. The difference is the magnitude of the risk(s). The PM MUST pay very close attention to the risks, and especially the risk controls, in a cloud project. This is not a “difference” in the way a PM runs a cloud project, but it is a heightened risk and concern regarding the success of a project. During planning, the PM MUST have agreement from the project members and especially the project sponsor regarding the risks and the decommissioning of the system being replaced. In this, the PM must be relentless and communicate effectively and efficiently throughout the project.
I am open to discussion at any time on these blogs or anything else related to project management you would like to explore. If you would like to comment about this blog, please do so by posting on this blog or by responding in an email at Benny A. Recine. You may inspire a blog article. I look forward to your comments.

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