• 20 Nov 2012

    The joys of the one page functional specification document

    Forget the details for now, they are not importantWhy is the detailed specification document so rare to find? A one page set of scribbled notes is the single biggest unnecessary risk you can take in any software development project. A concise specification document should always be the first deliverable for any project.

    When you write a decent spec, you only have to communicate how the software is supposed to work once. The clients read it to make sure the developers will be building a product that they want. The developers read it so that they know what code to write, the QA testers can read it so they know what to test for. Simple! So why make life complicated with just a set of notes and a whole bunch of assumptions?

    A good specification document is written in clear and plain language that can be reviewed by the client with minimal technical expertise. It might be very detailed, ...

    • Project Management
  • 22 Oct 2012

    Be brave! Revealing the risks is good project management

    risk management

    The benefits of risk management in projects is huge. An essential tool in any project management methodology is the 'Risk Log' or 'Risk Register' which provides a means of recording the identified risks, the analysis of their severity and the necessary management actions required.

    The result will be that you minimise the impact of project threats which strengthens your ability to deliver your project on time, on budget & with the quality results your project sponsor demands.

    As a general guide a basic Risk Log should contain the following data fields:

    Unique ID:

    A unique reference number


    Presented in a structured format:

    • Condition - 'There is a risk that'
    • Cause - 'Caused by'
    • Consequence - 'Resulting in'


    Early warning signs of risk occurring


    What is the likelihood of the risk occurring?


    What will the impact be if the risk occurs? High, Medium or Low


    There ...

    • Project Management
  • 06 Sep 2012

    Where is my Critical Path?

    So just where is my critical path?

    Light Speed: Shown is a cliff top path - example of a path that is critical to follow

    CPA is a planning and project management tool that we use here at LSITS to ensure a project is completed as quickly as possible, and resources used as efficiently as possible. It is vital that the information obtained at the start of the project is accurate and therefore we take time out to understand our clients requirements and make sure that everything is captured. 

    Light Speed: A list of Activities that have interconnections that are the paths

    In the diagram above the duration of each activity is listed above each node. For each path, add the duration of each node to determine its total duration. The critical path is the one with the longest duration.

    There are three paths in the example diagram above.

    Light Speed: Shown is a list of paths - the longest one is 18 days and is the Critical Path

    Identifying the critical path to any project will:

    • Help you identify the activities that must be completed on time in order to complete the whole project on time.
    • Show you which tasks ...
    • Project Management
  • 17 Aug 2012

    Quick, someone get me a Gantt chart

    Project Management CartoonThere is a great misconception that once you have a Gantt chart, you’ve cracked it, you have a plan and the project management for your business critical project is done. Even in today’s business world, I am not always convinced that everyone really understands the significant role that the Gantt chart plays in managing projects.

    Ok, so if it’s not just about producing a set of visual boxes, calling it the project plan and flashing it off at the next executive meeting, what is so special about the Gantt chart?

    The Gantt chart is actually a very powerful tool for managing the progress of a project and if used effectively, can provide sufficient warning of project slippage.

    It can help the project manager plan out the tasks that need to be completed by providing:

    • A basis for scheduling when tasks will be carried out
    • The ability to plan the ...
    • Project Management
  • 31 Mar 2012

    Using User Stories

    One of the artefacts of many agile methodologies, particularly Scrum, is the User Story. Depending on your background you may have a different opinion on what this phrase means. If you have any experience in development you'll probably translate the phrase in your head into "use case".

    A User Story has a certain slant on it: it helps revolve the development around the user. Rather than getting excited and trying to build the most high-tech and capable system with all bells and whistles, grounding development in User Stories means a feature should only be considered if it has a direct benefit to a user.

    A User Story has an ideal format that helps structure them:

    As a <user> I want to <action>, so that <benefit>

    Essentially, you're trying to crystalize a feature or idea into one simple sentence. The user is often a number of groups: from internal users of a system, to system ...

    • Project Management

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