Success is discipline

By: David Endo

To shed some light on what it takes to develop a great property management system, let’s look at the process we observe at TimeShareWare. We’ve found that great project development requires rigorous adherence to the following steps:

Define the project in detail. We typically create a Project Definition Document that is developed form an extensive consulting needs analysis or discovery report. Spending some properly planning your project will result in reduced costs and duration as well as increased quality over the life of the project.

Put together a work plan. Provide step-by-step instructions for constructing project deliverables and managing the project.

Implement project management procedures. Outline the resources to be used to manage the project. This includes how the team will manage issues, scope change, risk, quality, communication, and so on. If not tightly managed, these issues can be a total party killer.

Manage as you go along. No project ever proceeds entirely as it was estimated and planned.

Always look for warning signs that the project may be in trouble. These could include the following:

  •  A small variance in schedule or budget starts to get bigger, especially early in the project. There is a tendency to think you can make it up, but this is a warning. If the tendencies are not corrected quickly, the impact will be unrecoverable.
  • You discover that activities you think have already been completed are still being worked on.
  • You need to rely on unscheduled overtime to hit the deadlines, especially early in the project.
  • Team morale starts to decline.
  • Deliverable quality or service quality starts to deteriorate. For instance, users start to complain that their converted e-mail folders are not working correctly.
  • Quality-control steps, testing activities and project management time start to be cut back from the original schedule. Whatever you do, don’t cut back on the activities that ensure the work is completed correctly.

Managing scope. This is the most important activity required to control a project. Many project failures are not caused by problems with estimating or team skill sets but by the project team working on major and minor deliverables that were not part of the original project definition.

Scope-creep. Most project managers know to invoke scope-change management procedures if they are asked to add a major new function or a major new deliverable to their project. However, sometimes the project manager doesn’t recognize the small scope changes that get added over time. In the long run, this can cause budget and deadlines to be blown away.

Know the risks. Know that this will affect every person in the company. Risks may include not having the right level of expertise, unfamiliarity with the technology, and problems integrating smoothly with existing products or equipment. Once the project begins, periodically perform an updated risk assessment to determine whether other risks have surfaced that need to be managed.

Issues or not. If there is no urgency to resolve the issue or if the issue has been active for some time, it may not really be an issue. It may be a potential problem (risk), or it may be an action item that needs to be resolved at some later point. Real issues, by their nature, must be resolved with a sense of urgency.

All too often, large resorts take the do-it-yourself approach when creating a property management development system, but fail to apply the dedication and vigor required for a desirable outcome. Most spend years and millions of dollars and, desperate, come to us at TimeShareWare with similar stories of how they are not cut out to be in the software development business.

If you would like more information or a demonstration of TimeShareWare, please contact us at 801-444-3113 or sales@timeshareware.com.