Projects related to information technologies are very popular in modern society. They are characterized by ease of implementation in any conditions. Moreover, the development of the IT industry is an assistant for the company in solving complex tasks as they appear. Effective management and detailed development of projects in the field of information technology is an integral part of the process of companies’ work in this field.
Brief Summary of the Project
As part of the information technology project, the development of a mobile application for searching for stores with vintage clothing was chosen. This choice is due to the fact that modern fashion is increasingly turning in its trends to the past years (Williams, 5). The younger generation is increasingly visiting second-hand stores in search of unique things. However, not all stores can be found on regular maps. To simplify the search, it was decided to create a mobile application where all the stores of the city N would be collected, with their descriptions, products, prices, etc. The development of such an app is of great sense because it contributes to the preservation of the environment, contributing to the re-sale of clothing and reducing the harmful effect of overconsumption caused by the fashion industry for the ecology.
Lifecycle of IT Project
Creating a successful project related to information technologies is a very complex and multi-stage process. It includes a number of mandatory stages, some of which can go in a certain sequence.
Well-thought-out planning of the product functionality and analysis of the requirements imposed on it is of particular importance. The project manager is directly responsible for this stage, since this stage is responsible for the success of the entire development process. It is necessary to design and engineer interfaces (UX design) and conduct user experience research by studying potential customers (UI design). After that, an exact plan is drawn up for how the development will go, and what functionality will be in the product.
The next stage is the design of user interfaces. Specialists in the field of design, after studying the target audience and its preferences, build a project that is convenient for them. The visual component has one of the main roles. It attracts the attention of users and affects their ratings. Work is also underway to develop a convenient product structure and ways of its functioning.
The most common methodology used by developers is Agile. Ebert and Paasivaara emphasize that “industry-scale agility for distributed teams, large projects, or critical systems requires scaling agile practices, which agile scaling frameworks attempt to provide” (2). This software development proposes a flexible iterative approach, allowing specialists to work sequentially, dividing the project into smaller parts. Repetitions of actions, called sprints, in: planning, design, development and testing.
The next mandatory stage of the project life cycle is its testing. Specialists perform various types of it: modular, integration, interface testing. After that, the product can be implemented and combined with third-party software. If there are errors and shortcomings, the necessary improvements are made and the project is tested again.
The final stage is the constant support of the released product. These may be additional questions about the work from clients, or the need to make changes to already established functions. To do this, support specialists are involved in the work, who are always ready to help customers.
The relationships of operations can be sequential, with their precedence relationships, as well as with anticipations and delays. In this case, each output element of the operation is used as the input element of another operation. The relationships of operations can be with overlaps, when an operation that is still incomplete has enough output elements to start an operation that depends on it, or with parallel execution of operations. The resource assessment of each stage of project planning is designed to determine which resources, such as human resources or equipment, will be used and in what quantity and when each of the resources will be available for project operations. The operations resource assessment process is closely coordinated with the cost assessment process, which will be discussed in the Project cost management section.
The initial information for determining the complexity of the project is:
- A list of operations that defines planned operations for the resources being evaluated.
- Parameters of operations that are output when determining the composition of the steps. They provide the input of primary data to estimate the resources required for each operation.
- The resources themselves, information about which resources are potentially available is used to evaluate the types of resources.
- The schedule management plan is an integral part of the project management plan and is used in resource assessment.
Project Goals and Project Objectives
For a project manager, the main thing is to correctly formulate goals that should allow identifying the product that the team should produce during the implementation of the project, and the benefits that the customer should receive as a result of its completion. In addition, it is important to determine the criteria for the success of the project as a whole, from the point of view of the main stakeholders, including not only the customer, but also the project team. Therefore, the manager’s goals at this stage are to provide the team and the customer with this information.
- Create an affordable application with minimal financial costs for customers.
- Better user experience.
- Promote the reuse of clothing.
- Create an app where customers can compare options
- Users can get to high profile content in three clicks or less.
- Quick access to support content, so that customers can not only report on bugs in the app, but also can suggest new shops to add to the list.
Financial Side of the Project
The financial side of any project is an integral and important part. Waiting for more successful financial planning, it is necessary to take into account both already completed projects and those that are at the preparation stage. Costs in the field of information technology have characteristic risks that should be avoided. The actual economic effectiveness of the application of IT projects may not be justified in all cases. Sihombing writes that “project finance modeling uses Microsoft Excel to evaluate the Net Present Value (NPV) and Internal Rate of Return” (4). The advantages of using Excel are that the table is a universal tool for describing any project and has built-in performance evaluation functions. However, the disadvantages of using it are the possibility of incorrect construction of the model with errors in the formulas.
Conducting any project in the field of information technology requires the involvement of qualified specialists who understand the principles of its development and the scope of application and expensive equipment. The stages of financing go sequentially as the project itself develops. The first stage of the investment search is to attract bank funds and investments from external companies. However, sometimes the manager and the company can limit themselves to their finances. For a clear understanding of how to proceed, an economic analysis of the effectiveness of an investment project is used. As a result, the project can be accepted for financing, and an external source of financing, such as a bank, takes all the costs on itself. In this case, the project manager is engaged in the selection of suitable tools and methods for investing money and making a transaction.
If the company decides to attract state capital, the task is to achieve a socially significant result. In this case, the project manager must follow the competent and full implementation of management decisions in the interests of the state. State-owned enterprises usually implement projects that pay off over a long period of time. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that these organizations also have an interest in increasing the capital of shareholders and the economic stability of the state as a founder.
Key Customers and Stakeholders
The key users of the mobile app are expected to be the younger generation. The age of clients can vary on average from eighteen to thirty years. Young people who shop at thrift shops are said to be environmentally conscious and believe that reused clothing is much better for ecology than non-second hand one (Park, 3). This trend can have a positive impact on the distribution of the application among users.
Finding and working with stakeholders is one of the significant stages of the project cycle. Stakeholders are individuals or organizations, such as customers, sponsors, the executing organization and the public, who are actively involved in the development of the project (A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge,1). In addition, their interests may be affected both positively and negatively during the execution or as a result of the completion of the case. Stakeholders directly influence the project or its results.
An important interested party of the project is the clients themselves. They are the direct users of the product being created. Next, it is necessary to mention the project manager and the members of the project team. These people are engaged in all aspects of the project, from the idea to the implementation. The project sponsor, the project financiers and those interested in it, and the resource managers who control the resources needed to complete the project also play an important role.
Deliverables of the Project
The main goal of the project is to achieve the final result, as well as to ensure the use of the results. The evaluation of the results is based on the initial task of the project. The final results of the project are compared with the goal, and it is especially important to note any deviations from the schedule. The results symbolize the achievement of the set tasks, so they should be measurable and visible. The success of a project is judged by how much its result corresponds to its cost, profitable, innovative, qualitative, temporary, social, environmental characteristics.
One of the final results of the project is the creation of a mobile application that will not only help in finding unique things, but will also contribute to the reuse of clothing, reducing the effect of fashion industry on the environment. The project also contributes to the development of small businesses by supporting the work of small vintage stores and second-hand stores.
Risks of the project
Risks are an integral part of any information technology project. It is almost impossible to avoid them completely. Risk management is based on minimizing possible damage and increasing the efficiency of the company’s activities. The risks of information technologies themselves represent the possibility of negative consequences associated with the emergence of various threats. These can be viruses, problems with the storage and theft of information, hacker attacks. Such threats may arise not only at the stage of creating an IT project. They may occur during the operation of the created mobile application.
- The increase in the functionality of the application will occur slower than expected
This is due to the fact that more and more different applications are appearing on the market. All this generates competition and a struggle for users. To solve this problem, managers need a new stable build of the application at least once a month. The update should contain not only new features, but also bug fixes.
- Defects in the application
Bugs in the application can occur at any time during the implementation of the application. To do this, managers need to have a well-functioning technical support, where users can send applications with a detailed description of bug reports and attach screenshots.
- Poor application architecture
Design most often focuses primarily on what is visible to the user. However, the server logic, the database structure, and the set of connected external services are equally important. The chosen programming languages themselves do not matter much, managers can make good software on any of the modern technologies. There is a possibility that the created application will not perform important functions, or will perform them poorly.
- Testing is not organized
The methodology of hypothesis testing is often overlooked when developing a project. After the publication of the mobile application, an advertisement is given and conclusions are drawn based on it. When developing an application, special attention should be paid to product testing. It is necessary to analyze the behavior of users, how often they use the application, how much it cost to attract them, whether they bought the goods or services provided, whether they solved their problems. Without testing, it is difficult to understand where to move on and, ultimately, make a profit. In addition to the already formed project team, managers can also involve freelance employees. To achieve success, it is necessary to form an optimal composition of project task performers, and human resource management occupies an important place in the overall process.
It is important to select candidates for key roles in the project in accordance with the schedule. Such a schedule must be drawn up before the project is approved. It should indicate the dates of the start of work and estimates of their duration, as well as qualification requirements. During the work on the project, adjustments may occur. Specific personalities are set in the schedule for key roles, but the assessment of personnel needs must be performed in advance and for other roles. When drawing up such a schedule, one should not lose sight of the possibility that all the vacancies occupied will be rigidly fixed. Some of the employees may leave because of a more profitable one or get sick. For this reason, it is advisable to attract non-staff employees to the project, pre-include all possible candidates for roles in it.
Project’s Cost and Staffing or Non-Staffing Resources
The work on the creation of the project should be cost-effective and pay back all the invested resources and preserve the prospects for development. Managers spend no less time on small projects than on large ones. Therefore, during the preliminary assessment, a larger percentage of profitability is laid down. Transactions up to a million dollars should bring a profitability of 30% or more. The main cost items are salaries for developers, managers ‘ bonuses, taxes, hosting. The remaining costs, such as salaries of managers and administrative staff, advertising and marketing are considered in the calculations in the form of a coefficient.
The overall cost of the project is expected to be about forty hundred dollars. About ten percent of this amount will go to bonuses for managers and developers. The operating cost ratio will be approximately twenty percent. The cost of each specialist’s work is calculated by multiplying the number of working hours by the cost of an hour. The average cost of an hour of developer work will be approximately seventy-five dollars. In addition, outsourcing specialists with an average salary of forty-five dollars per hour can be involved.
Underestimating the costs required to create a software system can lead to an insufficient number of project teams, tight development deadlines and loss of confidence in developers in case of schedule violations. On the other hand, reinsurance may be better on the contrary. If more resources are allocated for a project than is necessary, and without proper control over their use, then such a project will be more expensive than it should have been with a competent assessment, which will lead to a delay in the start of the next project.
To evaluate resources, the following methods are used:
- Expert assessment from specialists with special training in the field of resource planning and evaluation.
- Project management software. It helps to plan, organize and manage resource funds, as well as develop resource estimates.
Maintenance and Support
Any project related to information technologies finds many obstacles on the way to implementation. Its maintenance and support after implementation also play an important role. Technical support usually solves hardware and software issues, such as installation, troubleshooting, updating, and application support. Such services allow companies to work smoothly and efficiently, protecting their systems from failures and data loss.
- Online support service
The permanent support service of the application and customers must be present at the release of the project. These can be services for resetting a password, setting up accounts, or consulting customers on a product. This type of support helps to better track trends in consumer behavior and their reaction to innovations.
- Technical support of the app
Sometimes there may be questions, the solution of which requires more specific technical knowledge. Their resolution requires an analysis of the root causes and the presence of specialists. Such support work can be outsourced or complement the work of the company’s IT department. These services open up a fresh look at the processes and help to avoid tunnel vision. Support specialists not only solve various technical problems, but also help prevent them in the future.
- Full support of the application
This work includes full monitoring and maintenance of systems for updates, testing and data backups. It involves a comprehensive assessment of the project’s IT infrastructure. Full support will be effective in cases when from time to time the project needs to configure routers and maintain servers. Their advantage is that these services can be adapted to specific needs. This approach significantly increases the efficiency of working on the project.
It is worth noting that an important part for the technical support of a mobile application is a separate contract. The type of technical support is individual and the content of the contract is clarified at the approval stage. It specifies the tasks to be solved within the framework of support. Some tasks may go beyond the scope of technical support, but such an agreement will give managers confidence in the future. The manager will always have the opportunity to fully rely on the help of technical professionals, since they know the product itself from the inside and will be able to quickly respond to tasks.
In addition, the contract provides a faster solution to the tasks of the first importance. The so-called force majeure may cause the application or some of its functions to be unavailable to users. This fact can lead to a loss of profit for the manager and all involved stakeholders. The contract prescribes clear conditions for solving critical situations, the degree of their importance and the speed of reaction on different days and times of the day. Such regulations allow the client or the customer to work calmly.
A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge. 2017. Project Management Institute.
Ebert, Christof, and Paasivaara, Paasivaara. 2017. Scaling Agile. Ieee Software. 98-103.
Park, Hyejune, et al. 2020. Thrift Shopping for Clothes: To Treat Self or Others?. Journal of Global Fashion Marketing. 56-70.
Sihombing, Lukas. 2017. Project Finance and Risk Modeling Using a System Dynamics Approach: A toll road project. Malaysian Journal of Industrial Technology. 86-93. R
Williams, Kailey. 2020. Motivations for Thrift Shopping. Wingate University. 151-162.