The Project Plan Part 5 – The Migration Plan

Planning

The Migration Plan describes the migration from existing systems or applications to the new solution. This plan is needed whenever you have to salvage anything (data, artifacts, physical objects, etc) from the old environment to the new one. In some projects this can be very challenging and the source of a lot of effort so plan early and carefully.

It is important to have an understanding from your sponsor of the Business Objectives driving the migration. Keep in mind each objective will have associated costs and risks. Examples of these are:

  • Minimize Business Disruption
  • Stay in full compliance with laws and regulations
  • Keep migration costs as low as possible
  • Choose acceptable alternatives that avoid risk to the target implementation date

Here is a list of some things to consider (this is not necessarily the complete list of considerations; your project may have more):

  • Migration Strategies (alternatives, including tools and implications for each)
  • Migration process (how, when and by whom the migration will be performed)
  • Test Environment (Setup, timing, hardware, people)
  • Preparation (Everything needed to be ready to execute the Migration Plan)
  • Decommissioning of replaced resources (timing, disposal)
  • Back-out plan (what to do if something goes wrong with the migration)

The Project Plan Part 4 – The Test Plan

Planning

The Test Plan applies primarily to projects that include new and changed software and/or business processes. Doing this planning in advance is key to meeting the target schedule as testing is typically the most time consuming portion of a project. Unfortunately, when many projects are in schedule trouble, testing is usually the first target for cutting the planned effort. Having a solid Test Plan will help mitigate that risk.

There are multiple aspects to the test plan:

Determine the Test Plan Objectives by Identifying…

  • …the activities required to prepare for and conduct testing
  • …the test scope, strategy and methodology to be used for the test
  • …the financial control tests (if applicable)
  • … the configuration controls and metrics
  • … the metrics and status reporting
  • … responsibilities for the tasks included in the plan
  • … test tools and the environment needed to conduct the test
  • … test interactions with other organizations
  • … test customers and deliverables
  • … the major testing milestones
  • … the sources of information used to prepare the plan

Define the Test Approach:

Give a high-level description of the approach and activities to be followed in testing the solution. If you are using Agile methods, this is where you will plan the release/test cycles.

Identify the Major Test Responsibilities:

Identify teams and individuals who will be managing and executing the tests. It should also specify their responsibilities.

The Features and Functionality to Test:

This is a high-level description (not the detailed test cases). You should consider the following:

  • Specific features to be tested
  • The types of error testing to be performed
  • The types of stress/load testing to be performed
  • The type of usability testing to be performed
  • The type of reliability testing to be performed
  • The type of recovery testing to be performed
  • The type of compatibility/migration testing to be performed
  • The type of security testing to be performed
  • The types of software and hardware to be employed if testing is to be performed over multiple software and hardware configurations (configuration testing)

Document your thoughts on the test process:

You should consider the following:

  • How you will define the acceptance criteria
  • Deliverables – materials that must be made available or created in order to conduct the tests and that will be developed from the tests to describe the test results.
  • Test Documentation – itemize the documentation you will require in regards to recording the test procedures and results.
  • Test Data – Where will it come from? How will it be created? Are regular refreshes needed?
  • Support Organizations – identify all interfacing organizations (Technology Services, Vendors, etc) that are needed to support the testing. Describe what will be needed.
  • Test Setup, Procedures and Walk-thru – general description of the steps the test will go thru to ensure quality tests.
  • Tracking and Reporting Status – Define the information test team members will communicate during the testing process. This should include the bug reporting tools and methods as well as a bug classification strategy

The Project Plan Part 3d – The Organizational Change Management Plan – Reinforcing Change

Planning

Change reinforcement is, in my experience, the most neglected aspect of Change Management. Usually after a project is successfully implemented, the project team “high fives”, celebrates success and then moves on to the next project. A year later, when it is discovered people are not following processes and policies or not using a system as it was intended, management will scratch their heads and wonder “where did we go wrong?”.

The answer to that is that no one was monitoring the change and reinforcing it as a part of a continuing activity both during and after the project. It is the Project Manager’s responsibility to ensure that a Change Reinforcement Plan is in place with defined roles, responsibilities and processes.

Reinforcing change includes assessing the results of change management activities, conducting compliance audits and implementing corrective action. Plan to actively seek out and celebrate early successes. Transfer ownership from the change management team to the Sponsoring Organization. The Organization assumes the role of reinforcing change and rewarding ongoing performance.

Understanding how the people are embracing the change and the effect on the results of the project will be addressed during project close and audit phases of the project. During the project you may want to build in activities to assess the effectiveness of your change management, communication and training plans. This can include:

  • Surveys or employee feedback on their understanding of the change, desire to change, knowledge acquisition, skills assessment, and the employees perception
  • Testing to ensure employees understand the new systems and processes
  • Use of metrics. Several metrics can be put in place post implementation to measure if the people change efforts were successful. These may include: System usage, performance reports, how often is the “old way of doing things” still used.

Based on these forms of evaluation of the effectiveness of the change strategies, modifications can be made to the plans. This may include: re-training, additional communication, one on one coaching, etc.

The Project Plan Part 3c – The Organizational Change Management Plan: Managing Change

Planning

Managing Change includes the design of Organizational Change Management Plans and individual change management activities. This is the “what you are going to do” to manage the change. Here are the components of the plan to manage change:

Communication Plan – Communication is a key component of explaining what is changing and why to the organization. Be sure to include the “WIFM” (What’s in it for me?) message. These communications should promote awareness of the project, the timeline, and how the changes will impact each affected group.

Training Plan – This plan will not only focus on training for a new system but also new processes. It will provide the specifics of what is changing for each user group. Also, included in the training is reiteration of why we are embarking on the change initiative.

Coaching Plan – Your coaching plan defines how you will support managers and supervisors during the change and how they will interact with front-line employees. The objective is to fully enable these managers and supervisors to:

• Sponsor the change

• Support their employees during the change

• Support their employees in the new, changed environment

The steps to developing a coaching plan:

1. Enable supervisors and managers to be effective change management coaches

Prepare a change management program and deliver this program to supervisors. Several key areas should be addressed with supervisors:

• Why is supervisor involvement important in change management?

• How do I talk with my employees about change?

• How do I coach my group through a change?

• Identifying different ways that people deal with change and how to coach them through it.

• How do I coach individual employees through change?

• What are the expectations for coaching in this project (frequency, timelines, agendas, etc.)?

2. Develop group coaching activities and timeline

Supervisors should prepare for and meet with their groups to discuss the change. Key messages should be provided by the change management team.

Group coaching during a change is an effective medium for distributing information and gathering feedback. It can help to build support for change and ease concern and resistance.

3. Develop individual coaching activities and timeline

Individual coaching sessions are one-on-one opportunities for supervisors and managers to work on change with specific employees. The face-to-face messages received are important as employees work through the change and try to perform in the changed environment. You should develop a matrix with the following components: Coaching Activity, Purpose, Timing, and Audience.

Workforce Transition Plan – A Workforce Transition Plan is a detailed plan to address changes in roles, responsibilities and organization structure. You need to plan how individuals will transition as a result of change and ensure they are transitioned according to organizational values and policies. You should develop a matrix with the following components: Individual or Group, Supervisor, Describe the transition, New Skills Required, Resolution, Communication Needs, Comments.

Resistance Management Plan – A resistance management plan is a proactive approach to managing resistance. During the assessment you identified potential resistance points. As your project implementation progresses, additional areas of resistance may surface. Below are action steps to creating your resistance management plan and the template:

1. Review areas of resistance from the assessment and define what resistance may look like for your change and how it may be identified.

o Brainstorm with the change management team and project team

o Brainstorm with the stakeholders and sponsors

2. For each level with the impacted organization, define a strategy for managing resistance to the change.

o Brainstorm strategies to address the key areas of resistance. This may be changes in functionality, new skills required or certain departments that may be resistant to the change. Some examples of possible strategies include:

• Communication about why we are making the change, benefits to the organization, and WIFM (What’s in it for me?)

• Training or job aids to assist in the transition

• Pairing up certain areas of the organization that will be the most affected by the change with positive change agents or project team members

• Engage with managers, supervisors and coaches to help these individuals along in the change

The Project Plan Part 3b – The Organizational Change Management Plan: Preparing for Change

Planning

Plan preparation includes activities to prepare yourself and the team for managing the change and the creation of the change management strategy. This allows the team to understand the magnitude of the change and potential resistance from the organization.

Defining the Scope of the Change

Defining the scope of the project for change management purposes means answering the following questions:

  • What are the changes that will occur as a result of this project?
  • Who will be affected?
  • What will be the magnitude of the change?
  • How might the affected groups react when notified of this change? What will be their concerns?
  • How can their concerns be addressed?

Putting the answers in a spreadsheet will help the planning process.

Conduct an Organizational Assessment

You can assess the organizational readiness for change by finding the answers to the following questions:

  • How resistant is the organization to the change associated with this project?
  • What is the capacity for change within the organization? Is the organization already being required to make changes elsewhere? How much more change can the organization absorb?
  • What is the history of similar projects/change within the organization? Did past projects/changes leave a residual effect that could either work in your favor or make the management more challenging?
  • What is middle management’s predisposition to change? Is the management team behind the change effort? Are there any that are opposed?
  • Anticipated Resistance – are particular departments, regions, etc. impacted differently than others? Were certain groups advocating a different solution? Are certain groups heavily invested with how things are done today?

In the next post I will address the components of “Managing Change” and the ADKAR change methodology.

The Project Plan Part 3a – The Organizational Change Management Plan: Roles & Responsibilities

Planning

Organizational Change Management is a structured approach to transitioning individuals, teams, and organizations from current state to a desired future state. The outcome of “People Change Management” is the number one reason why projects will either succeed or fail.

The Organizational Change Management Plan provides a framework to effectively lead your affected stakeholders through the changes that occur within a project. I will address this topic in four posts starting with this one (defining the roles and responsibilities). The topics for the remaining posts are :

  • Preparing for Change
  • Managing Change
  • Reinforcing Change

Roles and Responsibilities

Defining the roles within the team and organization ensures that the team members understand their role in effecting the change within the organization. Use the table below to define the roles, describe the responsibilities and define the names of who will fill the role.

Role Description/Responsibility Name(s)
Executive Sponsor/ Change Champion “Face” of the project communicating directly with employees and management

Participate actively and visibly throughout the project

Build a coalition of sponsorship and manage resistance – identify other Executives who will Champion the change

 
Change Management Resource/Team Formulate change management strategy – evaluate how big the change is and who will be impacted

Develop change management plan – determine what actions will be taken to enable moving people forward including a communication plan, sponsor roadmap, a coaching plan, training plan and resistance management plan

Execute plan with the other “doers” on the project

 
Change Agents (Middle managers and supervisors) These are people that have influence in the organization that  can be an advocate for change

Communicator of the change – become well versed in the changes that are occurring and why so they can communicate the message to the employees

Coach – trained in how to help the employees through the change

Liaison between the employees and the change management/project team taking direction and providing feedback on the “buzz” in the organization

 

Get these commitments well in advance. Don’t assume you can ask people to fill these roles “on the fly”. Change management tasks take a lot of effort and need to be well planned.

The Project Plan Part 2 – The Operations Plan

Planning

The Operations Plan describes how day-to-day operations will occur when the solution is in place and the project is over. The planning principle is to “begin with the end in mind”. This definition of the end state will help you complete the identification of the Stakeholders and verify that you have the complete list of Project Objectives in the Project Charter. It provides guidance to the organization on how to successfully maintain the solution over time.

Here is a list of some things to consider (this is not necessarily the complete list of considerations; your project may have more):

Operations Infrastructure – a comprehensive description of the environment into which the solution will be deployed and supported (including incident management).

Service Level Agreement (SLA) – addresses up-time, performance, redundancy and disaster recovery

Reporting Model – describes generally who will receive reports, the technology to be used for report delivery, what information they will get and on what schedule, and what source data will be used to generate the reports.

Organization Skill and Time Requirements – identifies the job roles, associated skill requirements and work time necessary to operate the solution. This information could be placed in a matrix that identifies 1) types of operational functions, 2) the job roles that work within each function, 3) the skill requirements for each job role, and 4) the frequency and time required (i.e. “3 hours per month”). This information can be used to identify organizational impact for your Organizational Change Management Plan (more on that in future posts). Make sure you identify the Administrators and their functions.

Software and Data Updates and Refreshes from External Sources –  how often and how it will be tested and verified.

Backup/Recovery – how often backups will occur and the process to order a restore.

Scheduled Maintenance Times – when and how often will the system be unavailable for maintenance

Monitoring – who is responsible for monitoring system performance; what tools will be used.

Security – requests to add access, remove access or change roles

 

The Project Plan Part 1 – The Development Plan

Planning

The Development Plan describes the solution development process used for the project in order to achieve the Project Objectives as defined in the Project Charter. This plan complements the Requirements specifications that details what will be built and provides consistent guidelines and processes to the teams creating the solution.

Here is a list of some things to consider when creating the Development Plan (this is not necessarily the complete list of considerations; your project may have more):

  • Intermediate deliverables needed to achieve the Project Objectives. For software, this list includes documents for Requirements, Design, Configuration, Build, Test and Deploy.
  • Delivery Strategy (e.g. phased implementations, high-priority/high-risk items first, “depth-first”, “breadth first”, “features, then performance tuning”)
  • Design Goals (e.g. create reusable components, use existing components, ease of maintenance vs. speed of delivery, security, etc)
  • Development and Build Environment – this has the potential to be a high-work, high-risk area. Include source code control, software and tools needed, test data, connectivity to other environments, security, tool and run-time licensing etc
  • Naming Conventions
  • The Build Process (how will versions be created for system, user and quality testing)
  • List Components and who will build them –  Also state if you have to buy components and how you will acquire them.
  • Development tools – also identify licensing needed.
  • Team Training and Support – identify training for the development team and what support they will need

You need to break down the activities listed above into pieces of work small enough to assign to one or more resources and estimate the effort and duration of the activity. The level in which you break this down is usually at the Project Manager’s discretion and will vary by project.

In addition to assigning resources and effort, you should describe how the activity will be accomplished. For example, if your major activity was ” Create System Design Document”, you could break this down into lower level activities such as “Data Design”, “Interface Design”, “Transaction Process Design”, etc. For “Interface Design” you could refer to company standards (if they exist), what languages and technologies will be used and what reviews and approvals are needed.

As we go thru each part of the Project Plan in subsequent posts, you will be collecting a list of activities that will ultimately be used to build the Project Schedule.

The Project Plan – Overview

Planning

There are many Project Managers and Stakeholders who refer to the Project Schedule (usually built in Microsoft Project or equivalent) as “The Project Plan”. This is not true. The schedule shows “who, what and when” but does not address “how”. A plan must address “how” or it is not a plan. I will address the Project Schedule in a separate series of posts.

The prerequisite to building a schedule is to identify all of the activities, and in order to do that you need a Project Plan. Activities will also be drawn from the Project Management Plan (refer to prior series of posts for more on this). This overview will list the main topics of the Project Plan and subsequent posts will do a deeper dive into each topic.

Here are the elements of the Project Plan:

  • The Development Plan
  • The Operations Plan
  • The Organizational Change Management Plan
  • The Test Plan
  • The Migration Plan
  • The Pilot Plan
  • The Deployment Plan
  • The Support Plan (post-implementation)
  • The Support Plan (during the project and stabilization)

You will not necessarily need all of these plans for a given project. It is good practice to review each one for every project to see if they apply. Some of these topics will require multiple posts to give them the depth they deserve.

The Project Management Plan – Project Close

Planning

When you are managing a long-running project, your sponsoring business partners may start to feel you are a permanent part of their team. Since many projects have enhancements to make after the initial project is done, it is easy to get endlessly drawn into managing these enhancements as if they were part of the original project.

Your defense against this is to define the conditions of project close in your Project Management Plan. Here is a sample list of typical conditions:

  • The Project Objectives from the Project Charter have all been met
  • Contracts have been fulfilled and closed.
  • Lessons Learned have been documented and reviewed
  • Project Documents have all been stored in the project document repository
  • There are no critical open issues (there will always be some issues left over; as long as they are not critical, these can be handled by your post-implementation Support Model)

Be sure to include this section in your Project Management Plan and that your Project Sponsor is aware of and agrees to these conditions in advance.