Project Management

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MSc Thesis
Dissertation submitted in part fulfillment for the degree of Master of Science in Geographical Information Systems

April 1997 J.G.A. Bestebreurtje Manchester Metropolitan University

Mentor: Prof. Dr. H.J. Scholten Free University of Amsterdam

Master Thesis: GIS Project management

Final Version


Recent studies concerning GIS show that it is the fastest growing segment (both hard & software) of the graphical computer market. 70% of private organizations expect to use GIS as a strategic tool within their company. Like a product, GIS in an organization has a life cycle. According to the model of Nolan this life cycle starts with awareness and ends when full integration with other information systems is achieved. Until recently project management for GIS projects was mainly about projects which were considered to be experimental. The requirements for such projects differ from the requirements for projects which are strategic for a company. Strategic GIS projects require a project manager with thorough understanding of issues such as: planning, knowledge of the objectives of the project, project environment and politics. There is little experience with such GIS projects. However the question “ How to manage a GIS project effectively” has to be answered for strategically positioned GIS projects to be succesfull. It is important for project managers to understand the relationship between the position of GIS in an organisation (Nolan Model) in relationship to the importance of GIS for the organisation (Mc Farlan). The way a GIS project should be handled depends, to a large extend, on these two positionings. A combination of IT methodologies such as Structured Analysis and Design, project management methodologies such as PRINCE and Hewlett-Packards Customer Project Life Cycle 2 combined with best practices are proposed in order to provide a framework, for project managers, to handle GIS projects which are considered strategic for the organisation. This framework, based on prior experience and through evaluation of a complex GIS project has been shown, in some respects, to work. There is still some uncertainty since there is little experience in the market with strategic GIS projects so there are not a lot of “best practices” to learn from and to further evaluate the proposed approach available.

© 1997 Hans Bestebreurtje, MSc UNIGIS


Master Thesis: GIS Project management

Final Version


ABSTRACT TABLE OF CONTENTS DISCLAIMER INTRODUCTION 1 PROJECT LIFE CYCLE 1.1. Introduction 1.1.1 Product life cycle 1.1.2 Life Cycle of an IT system/IT project 1.1.3 Strategic position of a Geographic Information System in the Organization 1.1.4 Information Needs 1.2. Summary 2 METHODOLOGIES 2.1. Introduction 2.2. General 2.3. Information System Development Methodologies 2.4. The Roaring Nineties 2.5. Choosing the appropriate development methodology for a GIS project 2.5.1 Rapid Application Development/Joint Application Development 2.6. Summary 3 PROJECT MANAGEMENT FOR GIS 3.1. Introduction 3.2. General 3.3. The project stages 3.4. Project Initiation 3.4.1 Responsibilities of the Project manager 3.5. The Project Initiation Document (PID) 3.5.1 PID:The background of the project 3.5.2 PID:Mission, Objective and Strategy 3.5.3 PID: Scope 3.5.4 PID: Constraints 3.5.5 PID: Organization of the project 3.5.6 PID: The Project Plan’s 3.5.7 PID: Deliverables, Milestones and Acceptance Criteria 3.5.8 Present PID and Kick-off meeting 3.6. Detailed Plans/Work Structure Breakdown 3.7. Monitoring 3.7.1 General 3.7.2 Progress Meeting 3.8. Risk Management 3.8.1 General 3.8.2 The four phase approach

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