Initiatives Principle 3

Initiatives Principle 3: A good digital initiative follows best practices for project management.

Digital initiatives, whether they are projects of finite duration or ongoing programs, share many of the same characteristics as projects in any other field, and so should follow industry standard project management practices.

There are many different methodologies for effective project management, to the extent that project management has become a discipline in its own right, but most project management methodologies share a small number of key common components:

1. Project Planning Stage

  • Clearly articulate the goals and deliverables of the project. 
  • Conduct formative evaluation to validate the initial goals and deliverables of the project. 
  • Identify what work needs to be done to accomplish the goals and deliverables of the project. 
  • Break down the work into manageable sub-tasks, and identify dependencies between the sub-tasks. 
  • Estimate and allocate the time and resources required to successfully complete each sub-task. 
  • Create a project plan that includes an estimated timetable for the completion of the sub-tasks, estimates the resource requirements for the completion of each sub-task, and identifies key milestones and deliverables in the project. 

2. Project Implementation Stage

  • Once the project has begun, monitor completion of tasks, sub-tasks, and milestones on the project plan. 
  • Regularly review and update the project plan as new and more detailed information about scheduling and resource allocation becomes available. 
  • Conduct additional formative evaluation to revalidate and, if necessary, modify the project’s goals, deliverables, and the project plan. 

3. Project Review Stage

  • After the final milestone in the project has been reached, review and document the project’s progress, and identify any changes that were required to the project plan, goals, or deliverables. 
  • Conduct summative evaluation to determine the success of the project. 
  • Articulate the findings of the summative evaluation in a report that captures the lessons learned from the project.  

A wide variety of software products are available to facilitate project management, including many open source, free, and/or low-cost tools. The commercial Microsoft Project (http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/project/default.aspx) and the open source dotProject (http://www.dotproject.net/) are among the popular general project management applications in cultural heritage organizations. Both of these projects can generate Gantt charts for schedule management (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gantt_chart).

Project management for digital initiatives is a popular topic for pre-conferences and seminars. Watch for announcements by professional associations and membership organizations. Some web-accessible resources include:

  • ProjectSmart website http://www.projectsmart.co.uk/. A clearinghouse of information about project management, including many introductory materials. 
  • PRINCE2 (PRojects IN Controlled Environments) website http://www.prince2.com/. A de facto UK standard methodology for information technology project management: 
  • Stephen R. Toney, Automating Your Museum. Part 2: Managing the Project (2000) http://www.systemsplanning.com/mnc2.asp. While nominally about implementing a new content management system, the information applies equally well to all types of projects.  

 

Last updated: 04/17/2008