Replacing hardware at any organization, regardless of the size of said organization, can be an overwhelming task if one goes into it unprepared. When replacing the hardware, one must have a complete and thorough understanding of the issue. The issue may need to be fully investigated so more members of the organization have a better understanding of the problem. Coming up with and evaluating alternatives then possibly selecting the best option would come next.
The final stage of implementing a hardware replacement would involve replacing a system, testing it, introducing the new system to the organization, and refining the overall process over time. One also needs to look at the five major variables of project management – scope, time, cost, quality, and risk involved in the process. The five major variables of project management need to be evaluated and applied to this particular situation. First of those variables we will look at is the scope of the project. Scope is what work is or is not included in a project. An example of this is given in the textbook.
The scope of a project for a new order processing system might include new modules for inputting orders and transmitting them to production and accounting but not any changes to related accounts receivable, manufacturing, distribution, or inventory control systems. In a hardware replacement project, this could include what systems are being changed out with new hardware but retaining existing software. The project management defines all the work that is required for a project to be completed successfully and should ensure that the scope does not exceed or expand beyond what was originally intended.
The second and one of the more important variables is time. Time is the amount of time required to complete the project. Establishing the amount of time required to complete the major components of a particular part of the project is vital to the project’s success. This could mean mapping out the planning process, creating time tables for ordering the hardware and or software, testing the systems, training employees on use of the new systems, and mass implementation of the replacement project. Ensuring that the project is done on time also helps with the following three variables; cost, quality, and risk… s all three can be affected by improper use of project time. The cost is the time to finish the project times the daily cost of employees, cost of the hardware itself, software for the new hardware, and workspace. One of the tasks of a project manager is to build a budget for the hardware replacement and monitor the ongoing expenses for the project. The economic feasibility of each possible alternative solution, whether or not each solution represents a good investment for the company, is also essential.
Identifying the cost of the solution which will deliver the most business value means one would need to also weigh the benefits and how they relate to the firm’s information systems plan. Quality. Quality, as a variable, is an indicator of how well the end result of a project satisfies the objectives specified by management for the overall project. Quality comes down to the improvement of organizational performance and decision making while also considering the accuracy and timeliness of the information produced by the new system and ease of use.
When undergoing a hardware replacement, again regardless of size, one wants to ensure that the quality of the project and end result are within the parameters set at the beginning of the endeavor. Quality assurance for a project of this size would be vital as it would help determine if the hardware replacement was going as planned in terms of meeting with the project goals or if things would need to be adjusted prior to completion or implementation. There is always risk with any undertaking, and a project manager has to be aware of the possible risks involved.
The potential for problems or complications that could possibly threaten the success of a project might prevent the project from achieving its objectives. This could increase the time and cost, lower the quality, or prevent the project from being completed at all. With a hardware replacement project, there are several risks involved. The hardware ordered may not be the correct hardware and could need to be sent back to the distributor, existing software or application failures due to incorrectly configured hardware, or an issue dealing with discarding of the old hardware when the new hardware arrives although minor) are a few risks. There are financial risks as well, such as the possibility of the project going over budget. Keeping all five of the variables in mind when dealing with a project is key, as each of the variables tie into each other in one way or another. With that in mind, looking at what consideration must be applied when selecting projects that deliver the best business value for the organization. When choosing a new project, specifically in the case of a hardware replacement, it is important to map out or plan based on the end goal of the replacement project.
Is the company looking to cut costs by using faster and or more reliable systems? Does the firm have too much old hardware that it is difficult to maintain at a reasonable cost and replacing the hardware is cheaper in the long term? These are things that have to be considered. One consideration that should be acknowledged but not undertaken is the possibility that the project cost could out weight the benefits of the project, as this would accomplish nothing but throwing investment money into a sinkhole. These considerations can also reflect on the factors which influence the risks involved and what to do to avoid those risks.
There are several factors which can influence the risk involved in a project as mentioned previously. The size of the project, structure of the project, and the level of technical expertise of the staff or project team are factors. The larger the project team is, the amount of money allotted or spent, and how many different departments or areas of the organization will be affected by the new system… all increase the risks. Large projects benefit from the appropriate use of formal planning and tools created for managing projects. The commonly used methods are Gantt charts and PERT charts.
A Gantt chart lists project activities and their corresponding start and completion dates while a PERT (Program Evaluation and Review Technique) is a methodology developed by the U. S. Navy during the 1950’s to manage the Polaris submarine missile program. A PERT chart can be used to see how a task in the project is affected by another task based on a certain time line. By using an impact analysis to monitor the firm’s changes, will help prepare for the project and making sure the impact analysis is organized to fit what the company needs.
These tools can be used to ensure that the project is staying in control and having good support during the implementation process. I have shown how the hardware replacement projects relates to the five major variables of project management by showing how scope, time, cost, quality, and risk factor in or relate to the scenario. I have also given some advice on what considerations must be made when selecting projects which fit the organization best in terms of cost versus benefits and a general rule to never spend more than the overall benefits of a project’s worth.
I have talked about Gantt and PERT charges and a bit about how they can be used for monitoring large projects. A hardware replacement for any company, no matter how large or small it is, can be an overwhelming task if all possible factors and variables are not looked into. If a company lacks the ability to complete such a project either within defined budget or time restrictions, there is of course always the option to outsource the project as there are organizations whose entire purpose is to do these kinds of hardware replacement projects.