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elementary™ - Phases
This phase is the foundation for the success of the project. It contains all preparatory and mainly project management related activities. The project structure, communication channels, decision process, stakeholders, development guidelines, risk handling procedures and much more is established. elementary comes with a lot of pre-defined templates and documents for these activities, so this may be a very short step indeed, albeit an essential one. The final result of this phase is an instrument that elementary shares with Prince2, namely a comprehensive PID (Project Initiation Document). This needs to be approved by the customer prior to progressing to the next phase.
This is where we investigate the business goals of the project and turn them into a set of clearly defined success criteria and target deliverables. It gives the customer and us visibility on the desired outcomes. Agreement on the result of this phase will be our mutual commitment to the project result.
The input for the Analyze phase may differ according to project type, but we will always have in-depth requirement sessions with business representatives or the future end-users. We have found that investing substantially in this and not making any assumptions is important for project success and can avoid expensive rework in later phases of the project. When benchmarking with other PM companies, we find that element61 typically spends more time in the Analyze phase in order to fully understand the requirements, but that we easily catch up that time when we Build the solution more efficiently afterwards.
The type and format of the deliverable may vary somewhat on the type & scope of the project, as well as on the technology; but nevertheless we have developed a number of templates to document the outcomes of this phase, such as an Information Matrix, a Functional Requirements document, etcetera.
Specify & Design
In this phase, the solution starts taking shape. We identify all the components that will be part of the end result and define how they need to be implemented. This phase is not limited to the technical components, but will also pay particular attention to all the relevant organisational processes involved, such as change management, end user involvement or training.
In most projects, this is the phase in which the data model of the solution starts taking shape. We spend a lot of effort and time on getting this right from the first time, because in our view, the data model is really the heart of the Performance Management architecture. Making design mistakes here has a huge impact on both the data inflow components (ETL) as well as the data outflow (BI front-end). That is why we at element61 pay specific attention to this activity and why we are convinced this is a crucial activity in which senior expertise is required. We master all of the main data modeling techniques such as 3NF, dimensional modeling, data vault, etcetera in order to come with a best-in-class data model fitting your requirements.
The agreed specification is transformed into a system that meets the customer requirements. Extensive unit and integration testing already takes place in this phase. The solution is integrated in the IT architecture in de DEV environment. In order to build the solution, element61 has expertise in each of the main Performance Management software technologies, including IBM/Cognos, SAP/BusinessObjects, Microsoft, Oracle/Hyperion, Informatica Powercenter, SAS, etcetera. Given the fact that we usually spend a lot of effort on the Analyze and Specify phases, we are always very well prepared for the Build phase, which typically only takes a limited amount of time and requires very little rework.
The final deliverable of the Build phase is a working DEV environment including the results of the unit and integration testing.
An often underestimated phase in other methodologies, which is why we have defined it as a separate phase. element61 has a strong commitment to quality and we take pride in building a solution right from the first time. In order to achieve this goal we strive for perfection and submit our work to severe, structured tests in acceptance testing. We also expect the customer to do intensive testing of the final products themselves. During this User Acceptance Testing phase, we will expect them to not only perform functional tests but also to focus on security, performance, non-functional issues, etcetera, in order to safeguard that the final deliverable will meet all expectations.
Upon successful testing, we are confident that our solution is ready to go live. Technical training, end user training, configuration management and roll-out are crucial steps in this phase. This phase also focuses on integration with business processes and plans for next steps and future support requirements.
Following successfully going live with a project, one should verify that the initial objectives of the project are achieved, recalculate the Return On Investment and monitor effective use of the solution by the users. If needed, based on observations from & of the user community, fine-tuning, additional trainingor changes should be considered to assure that the initial project goals& user requirements are met.
This phase is summarized in a Lessons Learnt document.
elementary is more than a set of roles, procedures and techniques. We have bundled all knowledge in our unique elementary Document Pack. This pack consists of a comprehensive project document library for Business Intelligence and Performance Management projects. It is a set of templates and pre-filled reports that will not only ensure a quick start-up of the project but also drastically reduce project management overhead. By working with standardized reports -that can be adjusted to your corporate documentation standard- you are guaranteed to have a fully documented project with the least effort.
Each member of element61 delivery teams is fully trained to work with the elementary Document Pack and apply it as efficiently and effectively as possible.