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ARCHIVED - Establishing the Baseline - Government-Wide Summary and Analysis of IT Project Practices

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Appendix 1

List of Questions

A Status Report on Federal Government Project Practices

Project Governance Related Questions

  1. Business Alignment: Information Technology projects are aligned with, and support, business directions and priorities

    • Is approval for the project based on a business-case analysis that relates the investment directly to the business function and demonstrates the benefits of the investment to the department or government as a whole?
    • Is there a business case template used by all projects?
    • Is there a documented process for preparing the business case, obtaining approvals, reviewing the business case, etc.
    • Will the business case be reviewed and revalidated at each scheduled gate and whenever there is a significant change to the project or the business function?

  2. Accountability Structure: Clear accountabilities are established
    • Are overall departmental accountabilities for the project defined in a Project Charter?
    • Is there a project charter template used by all projects?
    • Is there a documented process for preparing the project charter, identifying roles and responsibilities of stakeholders, obtaining approvals, etc.
    • Are all core project management responsibilities and functions performed by Crown management? (includes core functions associated with managing & controlling project plan, scope, time, cost, quality, risk, human resources, procurement, contract & communications)
    • If it has been necessary to outsource any core project management functions, are they being acquired from a supplier other than that involved in the primary development contract?

  3. Project Management Culture: Project managers are developed and work within a corporate discipline
    • Does the assigned project manager have the knowledge, skills and experience required to managing the project's scope, size, complexity and risk profile?
    • Are the competencies expected and required of project managers documented?
    • Is there a documented process that defines a training and development path for project managers?

  4. Risk Culture: Project management decisions are based on risk management
    • Does the project have scheduled checkpoints or "gates" when it will be reviewed and where management will decide on its future, and if necessary, take appropriate corrective action?
    • Does the department's defined project life-cycle detail when and where gates should be established and what criteria must be satisfied before clearing the gate?
    • Have only the funds needed to reach the next gate been allocated to the project?
    • Has a risk assessment consistent with practices outlined in SEI's Continuous Risk Management Guidebook been used to identify and assess the risks?
    • Is there a documented risk management process (including tools, techniques, practices) that all projects must use?
    • Has project complexity been determined at the initiation of the project using Function Point Analysis (FPA)?
    • Is a performance measurement tool based on the national standard, C/SPMS, being used to provide data to the (Crown) project manager on the time and money expended and on the work completed at frequent intervals?
    • Have PWGSC procurement officers been involved early in the project planning so as to develop a procurement process that reduces delays, and to design a procurement plan that best aligns the contracting plan with the project plan?

Systems Engineering/Software Acquisition Related Questions

Systems Engineering/Software Acquisition, in the context of this questionnaire, involves transforming an operational need into a description of the system configuration (including acquired systems) which best satisfies the operational need and integrating the efforts of all disciplines and specialties (software development, infrastructure, etc) to yield a software product.

  • Is there a documented process to elicit, stimulate, analyze, and communicate customer needs and expectations to obtain a better understanding of what will satisfy the customer? (This process typically corresponds to the system requirements analysis phase in traditional system life cycles)
  • Is there a documented process to allocate business requirements to various system map functions (including objects, people, supporting processes, products and services) as part of the system design activities and/or the selection of off-the-shelf solutions? (This process corresponds to the system design activities)
  • Is there a documented process to study and/or analyze candidate solutions prior to selecting a solution that will satisfy the business problem and its constraints? (This process corresponds to the make/buy analysis often performed during the system design phase)
  • Is there a documented process to derive and allocate technical architecture requirements as part of the system design activities?
  • Are software acquisitions projects implemented within the same rigor as development projects (including planning, budgeting, scheduling, managing risk and controlling)?
  • Do standard documented guidelines and procedures exist for the acquisition of software products? (e.g. product standards, architecture requirements and constraints, etc.)
  • For the software product being acquired, is transition to the software support organization planned?
  • Is there a documented system integration and test process to ensure that elements will function as a whole? (This primarily involves identifying, defining, and controlling interfaces, as well as verifying system functions that require multiple system elements.)

CMM Related Questions

  1. Requirements Management. Requirements Management involves establishing and maintaining an agreement with the customer on the requirements for the project. The agreement covers both the technical and non-technical (e.g. delivery dates) requirements.

    • Are requirements agreed upon by the customer, project management, and project team members?
    • Are requirements documented and available to all project team members?
    • Are changes to requirements reflected in the project's effort and cost estimates, and size of product estimates?
    • Are changes to requirements negotiated and agreed upon by the customer, project management, and project team members?
    • Are requirements traced to design components, code components, and test plans or procedures?
    • Are requirements analyzed for completeness, understandability, feasibility, and consistency?

  2. Project Planning. Project Planning involves developing estimates for the work to be performed, establishing the necessary commitments, and defining the plan to perform the work.

    • Are the project activities defined and documented in a plan? (Project Plan)
    • Do procedures or guidelines exist for estimating project effort and cost, and size of work products?
    • Are the commitments of external groups documented and agreed upon by the affected groups (i.e. configuration management, documentation management, quality assurance, customer, sub-contractors)?
    • Is the project plan reviewed by the project manager, managers of other affected groups, and project team members?
    • Are project risks (cost, resource, schedule, or technical risks) identified, assessed, and documented?
    • Are the planned activities of the project based upon a defined life cycle?
    • Have facilities (i.e. office space, computer equipment) and support tools been identified and procured or developed?

  3. Project Tracking and Oversight. Project Tracking and Oversight involves tracking and reviewing the accomplishments and results against documented estimates, commitments, and plans, and adjusting these plans based on the actual accomplishments and results.

    • Is the project effort, cost, and schedule tracked on a frequent basis?
    • Are sizes of work products tracked and the sizing estimates updated accordingly?
    • Are the project activities adjusted and re-planned when the project actuals are found to deviate significantly from the original project plan?
    • Are internal project reviews conducted periodically with affected groups to track progress and issues?
    • Are reviews conducted at significant milestones with the customer to review results, plans, and status?
    • Are estimated and actual data for project effort, cost, and work product sizes recorded for use in this project and future projects?
    • Are technical issues or problems identified, documented, and tracked to closure (i.e. problem reports, issues database)?

  4. Subcontract Management. Subcontract Management involves selecting a contractor, establishing commitments with the contractor, and tracking and reviewing the contractor's performance and results.

    • Are subcontractor's selected based upon an evaluation of their capabilities?
    • Do documented guidelines or procedures exist for the evaluation of subcontractors?
    • Are the commitments between the prime contractor and the subcontractor documented in a contractual agreement?
    • Does the prime contractor conduct periodic technical reviews with the subcontractor to review technical material and status?
    • Does the prime contractor conduct periodic management reviews with the subcontractor to review progress and status?
    • Does the prime contractor conduct an acceptance test as part of the criteria for accepting the subcontractor's product?
    • Is the subcontractor's performance evaluated periodically and reviewed with the subcontractor?
    • Is the product acceptance criteria documented in an Acceptance Test Plan which has been agreed upon by the prime contractor and the subcontractor?

  5. Quality Assurance. Quality Assurance involves reviewing and auditing the products and activities to verify that they comply with the applicable procedures and standards and providing the project and other appropriate managers with the results of these reviews and audits.

    • Does a Quality Assurance (QA) Plan, containing QA activities, responsibilities, and schedule, exist for the project?
    • Are QA activities conducted in accordance to the QA Plan?
    • Does Quality Assurance report directly to the organization's senior management?
    • Are QA activities and their findings reported to the project periodically?
    • Are QA individuals trained in quality assurance?
    • Are issues of non-compliance that cannot be resolved within the project, escalated to the level of senior management?
    • Does QA verify that the activities of the project comply with the Project Plan and the designated standards and procedures identified in the Project Plan?
    • Does QA verify that work products comply with the standards, procedures, and contractual requirements, as stipulated or referenced by the Project Plan and Statement of Work?

  6. Configuration Management. Configuration Management involves identifying the configuration of the product (i.e., selected work products and their descriptions) at given points in time, systematically controlling changes to the configuration, and maintaining the integrity and traceability of the configuration throughout the project life cycle.

    • Does a Configuration Management (CM) Plan, outlining CM activities, responsibilities, and schedule, exist for the project?
    • Are CM activities conducted in accordance with the CM Plan?
    • Are project work products, supporting tools, and any software or procedures required to regenerate the work products identified and controlled?
    • Does a configuration management (CM) library system serve as a repository for the controlled items?
    • Is there an established procedure for checking items in and out of the CM library system?
    • Is there an established procedure for generating baselines from the CM library system?
    • Is information on the contents of the baselines and the status of the CM library available to the project?
    • Is there an established procedure and mechanism for controlling changes to the controlled items (i.e. Change Request Procedure)?

  7. Organization Process Focus. Organization Process Focus involves developing and maintaining an understanding of the organization's and projects' processes and co-ordinating the activities to assess, develop, maintain, and improve these processes.

    • Do activities to develop standard processes and to improve these processes exist within the organization?
    • Does responsibility for defining process development and improvement exist at an organizational level, and not a project level?
    • Are the project's or organization's processes assessed, periodically, to determine process strengths and weaknesses?
    • Are Action Plans based upon the process assessment generated and implemented?
    • Does the organization have a company-wide plan for process development and improvement activities?
    • Is there an Organization Training Plan for conducting process training across the organization?
    • Does senior management provide the support, resources, and funding to enable the process improvement activities to be effective?

  8. Organization Process Definition. Organization Process Definition involves developing and maintaining the organization's standard processes, along with related process assets, such as descriptions of process life cycles, process tailoring guidelines and criteria, the organization's process database, and a library of process-related documentation.

    • Does the organization have developed and documented standard processes (i.e. description of project life cycle)?
    • Does the organization encourage and promote the use of standard processes?
    • Is there a collection of process assets (e.g. process descriptions, process tailoring guidelines, coding standards, development procedures) that can be easily tailored and used by the projects?
    • Are the standard processes continually assessed and improved?
    • Are new technology, tools, and methodologies related to process being assessed and evaluated?
    • Is estimated and measured process data retained in a database for use in process improvement and in planning future projects (e.g. size estimates, effort data, productivity data, defect data)?

  9. Training Program. Training Program involves first identifying the training needed by the IM/IT organization, projects, and individuals, then developing or procuring training to address the identified needs.

    • Does each project specify its technical and managerial training needs (e.g. type of training required, by whom, and when)?
    • Do the individuals on a project receive the necessary training as identified?
    • Does a Training Plan for the organization exist, specifying training needs, type of training available, funding, resources, schedules, and standards for course development?
    • Are training courses developed in-house, developed and maintained according to the organization's training plan?
    • Does the organization's training program receive the necessary support, resources, and funding from senior management to make the program effective?
    • Are measurements used to determine the quality of the training program?

  10. Integrated Project Management. Integrated Project Management involves developing the project's defined project management process and managing the project using this defined process. The project's defined project management process is tailored from the organization's standard project management process to address the specific characteristics of the project.(e.g. PMBOK)

    • Does the project have defined processes that have been developed from the organization's standard processes?
    • Do the activities described in the Project Plan follow the project's defined processes?
    • Is historical data from past projects (as contained in the organization's project process database) used for project planning and estimating? (This historical data includes software size, effort, cost, schedule, productivity, and activity data.)
    • Is the project's effort, costs, and schedule managed according to a procedure?
    • Is the size of the work products managed according to a procedure?
    • Are the project's risks identified, assessed, documented, and managed according to a procedure?

  11. Product Engineering. Product Engineering involves performing the engineering tasks to build and maintain the work products using the project's defined engineering process and appropriate methods and tools.(e.g. Method 1, DMR P+, etc.)

    • Is the project's defined software process supported by effective mechanisms and tools?
    • Are procedures for using the defined software process documented, and adhered to?
    • Is requirements analysis and verification conducted in accordance to the project's defined process?
    • Is the product designed in accordance to the project's defined process?
    • Is the product implemented according to the project's defined process?
    • Is the testing conducted according to the project's defined process?
    • Are the work products (i.e. outputs) of the requirements analysis, design, implementation, and test activities consistent with each other and the customer requirements?
    • Are the necessary resources (i.e. technology, skills, equipment) available to the project?

  12. Inter-group Co-ordination. Inter-group Co-ordination involves the participation of other project groups (organization level versus project team member level) such as infrastructure, testing or quality assurance to address system-level requirements, objectives, and issues.

    • Are commitments between project groups agreed to by the affected groups and documented? (Commitments could be documented in the Project Plan.)
    • Are representatives from affected project groups involved in establishing the project requirements and in negotiating with the customer?
    • Does an established procedure exist for identifying, recording, tracking, and closing inter-group issues?
    • Do the project groups work together on a regular basis to monitor and co-ordinate technical activities and to resolve technical issues?
    • Is the Project Plan used to co-ordinate and track the activities of the various groups?
    • Are work products delivered to other project groups reviewed to ensure they meet the group's needs?

  13. Peer Reviews. Peer Reviews involve a methodical examination of work products by the producers' peers to identify defects and areas where changes are needed

    • Is peer review of work products conducted on the project? Examples of work products suitable for review are requirement specifications, architecture, design descriptions and test plans.
    • Is the review material distributed to the reviewers prior to the meeting and with sufficient time allocated for the material to be reviewed?
    • Are defects identified during the review meeting recorded and tracked to closure?
    • Does the Project Plan or a Peer Review Plan identify the work products to undergo peer review?
    • Are peer reviews conducted in accordance with a documented procedure?
    • Are peer review checklists, which identify the criteria for the review of the product, used by the reviewer?