Category Archives: Information Technology

Project-Checklist.docx

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This document is a standard project checklist to use as you plan, organize and kickoff your project.  When launching a project, there are many things to be done and it is easy to forget some important and critical steps.  This project checklist helps you ensure you have all the major things covered.

The project checklist includes line items for high level tasks such as project goals, objectives, and a kickoff meeting.  It also includes more detailed items like scheduling regular stakeholder update meetings and preparing training materials.  

Enter your project name in the header, then click the checkbox in the project checklist to mark an item as completed. 

FMEA-Template.xlsx

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This FMEA Template (Failure mode and effects analysis) is built in Excel and automatically calculates the RPN score for you.  The FMEA is intended to help mitigate risk with a process, product or project. 

To begin using the FMEA template, identify all of the process steps or functions associated with your process or project.  Enter all of these into Column B of the template.  Next, identify potential failures (or problems) that can occur at each of these steps and enter them into Column C.  Also, identify the effects or impacts of each failure occurring and enter that into Column D.  Try to identify causes of the potential failures and enter them into Column F.  In Column H, enter any existing controls that are in place to address each of the potential failures you have identified. 

To complete the blue section of the FMEA template, you will need to assign Severity (Column E), Probability (Column G) and Detectability (Column I) scores for each potential failure.  Use a scale from 1-10 for each of these scores.  For Severity, 1 is not at all severe and 10 is extremely severe.  For Probability, 1 indicates not at all likely to occur, and 10 indicates certainty that it will occur.  For Detectability, 1 indicates it is very easy to detect and 10 indicates it is very difficult to detect (note this one may be opposite of what you expect). 

Once you enter all of these scores, the Risk Priority Number (RPN) will be calculated for you.  The RPN is calculated by multiplying the Severity times the Probability times the Detectability.  Items with the highest RPN should be addressed first.

To complete the green section, enter recommended actions to address the cause of the potential failure and assign an Owner to carry them out.  Once the actions are completed, enter them into Column M.  After actions have been completed, enter the new Severity, Probability and Detectability into Columns N, O and P.  A New RPN score will be calculated for you in Column Q. If you have properly addressed the cause of the potential failure, the New RPN should be much lower than the original RPN.

Microsoft-Project-Example.mpp

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Microsoft Project Plan

This Microsoft Project Example is a Project Plan for an IT project involving data loads from a front end website into back end ERP systems.  The Microsoft Project Example highlights the following:

  • Grouping of Tasks in a hierarchical fashion
  • Resource Allocation and Resource Leveling
  • Work hours assigned and Confidence in estimates
  • Task Prioritization and Task Flexibility
  • Task Categorization
  • Predecessors to show which tasks are dependent on the completion of others
  • Estimated Start and Finish Dates

The MS Project example also shows the Gantt Chart with the tasks, duration, predecessors and resources.  The project plan accounts for gathering requirements, designing the solution, testing, implementation and training.

Test-Plan-Template-Excel.xlsx

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This Test Plan Template (Excel) is intended for the testing of software and information systems.  It is useful to prepare the Test Plan well ahead of testing and should be reviewed by the project or product manager, as well as others who have gathered the requirements.

The Test Plan Template contains separate tabs for each set of features to be tested.  Each row in a tab is a test case to be performed, and has a place to document the Expected Result as well as the Actual Result.  The Status of each row should be populated with “Pass” or “Fail” upon completion of the test case.  This will automatically highlight the row green or red.  Test data used in each test case should also be recorded in the test case row for future reference.  For any test case that fails, the details of the error or failure should be recorded in the Comments column.

Since the test plan template is built in Excel, the Overview tab is able to automatically calculate the number of cases Passed, Failed, and Remaining, as well as percentages for each.  The “Test Summary” at the top of each tab is also automatically calculated and does not need any manual editing.  The change log, reference material, overview, etc is also maintained on the Overview tab.  

Project-Charter-Template.docx

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This is a versatile, professional project charter template that can be used for projects of all different types. The template is fairly detailed. Sections that are not needed for certain projects can be removed. The project charter is usually created by the Project Manager early in the Project Management Life Cycle.

The project charter can be used to “pitch” or “sell” the project to executives or leaders who will decide whether or not to fund the project. It is also used to communicate project details to resource managers who will decide whether or not to commit their team members to the project. Once approved, the project charter authorizes work to commence on the project and gives authority to the project manager to lead the project. Additionally, all project team members should be familiar with the project charter prior to beginning work. This helps ensure that all team members understand the objectives and benefits the team is working towards, as well as what is in and out of scope.

This project charter template includes sections for:

  • Project Overview
  • Objectives and Expected Benefits
  • Problem Description
  • Root Causes
  • Solution Proposal
  • Scope Details
  • Project Milestones
  • Team Members
  • Project Costs
  • Risk Mitigation
  • Communication Plan
  • Additional Details

The project charter is also a great resource to help bring new project team members up to speed who join the project after the initial kick off.

Context-Level-DFD-with-Groupings.vsd

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This is a Visio template for a Context Level DFD (Data Flow Diagram).  A Context Level DFD is often used in system analysis and IT projects to help determine scope.  Typically, the name of the project or the system that is being worked on is put into the middle circle.

The boxes connecting to the middle circle are people, groups, departments, processes and other systems that will interact with your project.  The connecting lines describe what input (information, business rules, etc) are being provided to you and what output you are providing to the other entities.

This Context Level DFD provides groupings of the connecting entities to help organize the document.  This is useful anytime a group of entities share the same inputs or outputs.

It is important to complete the Context Level DFD early in the project.  The connecting entities need to be aware and in agreement with the changes you are making since they will be impacted.  The connecting entities are often considered stakeholders of your project.

The colors, green, yellow and red are used to demonstrate what connection points are in scope and out of scope for the given phase or duration of the project.  

Context-Level-DFD.vsd

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This is a Visio template for a Context Level DFD (Data Flow Diagram).  A Context Level DFD is often used in system analysis and IT projects to help determine scope.  Typically, the name of the project or the system that is being worked on is put into the middle circle.

The boxes connecting to the middle circle are people, groups, departments, processes and other systems that will interact with your project.  The connecting lines describe what input (information, business rules, etc) are being provided to you and what output you are providing to the other entities.

It is important to complete the Context Level DFD early in the project.  The connecting entities need to be aware and in agreement with the changes you are making since they will be impacted.  The connecting entities are often considered stakeholders of your project.

It is considered a best practice to only document one step out from the middle circle.  The inputs and outputs between a connecting entity and their stakeholders are not typically included in the Context Level DFD as that entity is responsible for managing and understanding all of their own connection points. This also prevents the diagram from becoming over complicated.

The colors, green, yellow and red are used to demonstrate what connection points are in scope and out of scope for the given phase or duration of the project.

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Example-Cross-Functional-Flow-Chart-Diagram.vsd

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This is an example Cross Functional Flow Chart Diagram built in Visio.  Note that not all Microsoft Office installations come with Visio.

The flow chart includes the following shapes:

  • Rectangle for a process step
  • Diamond for a decision
  • Tube for start and end shapes
  • Annotation for comments
  • Rectangle with a curve for a Document
  • Rectangle with two vertical stripes for a pre-defined process (sub process)
  • Separator (vertical line) to distinguish phases of the process
  • A cloud shape to indicate unclear or uncertain steps in the process

This example is of an IT system release process and has three swim lanes. Additional lanes can be added as needed from the “Cross Functional Flowchart Shapes” stencil. Coloring has been added to the separators to help visually indicate when you are moving from one phase of the process to the next. Additional coloring suggestions include red for process steps that require attention, and yellow for the creation or update of a document.  

IT-Project-Plan-Template.xlsx

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This IT Project Plan template is intended for small IT projects, roughly 3-6 months.  It has the basic tasks of a project already populated for the Project Manager, Business Analyst and Developer/Programmer.

Additionally, it has places for the Status of each tasks, Start Date, End Date, Duration, and Owner.  The Duration field calculates automatically based on the Start & End Date of the Task.

Be careful with the Status field.  What you enter into this field determines the color of the entire row.  You may enter: Not Started, In Progress, Delayed, Completed, Milestone or (Phase).

Since this is a template for smaller IT projects, it does not provide functionality for Dependencies, a Gantt Chart, etc.  For those types of features, consider using MS Project or another tool instead of Excel.

Cross-Functional-Flow-Chart-Diagram.vsd

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This is a template for a simple Cross Functional Flow Chart Diagram (also known as a Cross Functional Process Flow Diagram). Note that it is built in Microsoft Visio, VSD format.  Visio does not come with most Microsoft Office installations.

Cross Functional Flow Chart Diagrams are used to illustrate processes that are performed by two or more parties.  The process steps are separated by “swim lanes” designating which party performs which step.

This template uses the basic flow chart diagram symbols:

  •     Rectangle for a Process Step
  •     Diamond for a Decision Step
  •     Tube for the Start and End Steps
  •     Annotation for Comments

To make the chart larger, drag the edges to extend the working space to the amount needed.


An example of this template in use can be found here.