The project takes shape during the implementation phase. This phase involves the construction of the actual project result. Programmers are occupied with encoding, designers are involved in developing graphic material, contractors are building, the actual reorganisation takes place. It is during this phase that the project becomes visible to outsiders, to whom it may appear that the project has just begun. The implementation phase is the ‘doing’ phase, and it is important to maintain the momentum.
In one project, it had escaped the project team’s attention that one of the most important team members was expecting to become a father at any moment and would thereafter be completely unavailable for about a month. When the time came, an external specialist was brought in to take over his work, in order to keep the team from grinding to a halt. Although the team was able to proceed, the external expertise put a considerable dent in the budget.
At the end of the implementation phase, the result is evaluated according to the list of requirements that was created in the definition phase. It is also evaluated according to the designs. For example, tests may be conducted to determine whether the web application does indeed support Explorer 5 and Firefox 1.0 and higher. It may be determined whether the trim on the building has been made according to the agreement, or whether the materials that were used were indeed those that had been specified in the definition phase. This phase is complete when all of the requirements have been met and when the result corresponds to the design.
Those who are involved in a project should keep in mind that it is hardly ever possible to achieve a project result that precisely meets all of the requirements that were originally specified in the definition phase. Unexpected events or advancing insight sometimes require a project team to deviate from the original list of requirements or other design documents during the implementation of the project.
This is a potential source of conflict, particularly if an external customer has ordered the project result. In such cases, the customer can appeal to the agreements that were made during the definition phase. As a rule, the requirements cannot be changed after the end of the definition phase. This also applies to designs: the design may not be changed after the design phase has been completed. Should this nonetheless be necessary (which does sometimes occur), the project leader should ensure that the changes are discussed with those involved (particularly the decision-makers or customers) as soon as possible. It is also important that the changes that have been chosen are well documented, in order to prevent later misunderstandings. More information about the documentation of the project follows later in this handbook.
Wouter Baars has a Master of Science degree in Industrial Engineering and Management Science. He has been a project manager for several years for The European commission, Waag Society, KPN (Dutch telecom provider) and many smaller organizations. He is specialized in creative projects such as serious game development, e-learning and software development. Currently he is teaching project management and coaching organizations that are working on their project management. More info on his work: www.projectmanagement-training.net.
Originally published by DANS – Data Archiving and Networked Services – The Hague