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Cisco Networking Academy Program: Web Design Pre-Production Process

Chapter Description

A majority of web projects are developed in three phases: Pre-Production, Production, and Post-Production. Each phase has many interim stages, and some stages overlap others. This chapter provides a sample approach of the steps involved in a typical pre-production phase.

Basic Project Management Concepts and Vocabulary

A project management scheme is necessary to keep the project on schedule and running smoothly. Also, project management is necessary to ensure a smooth production process when working in a team. Project management consists of organizing and structuring a systematic sequence of activities to most efficiently develop the website. Project management is critical to maintaining a smooth workflow and to prevent tasks from having to be repeated.

To manage a project successfully, you must have a broad overview of the project, its content, and the ultimate goals. You must anticipate the difficulties that could be encountered during the project. You might also need to assign work to various subcontractors and monitor their progress.

The most important aspect of project management is planning. The website's construction needs to be planned and organized into systematic phases. This chapter stresses how important pre-production planning is to the successful implementation of the website. Do not neglect this important stage. Plan thoroughly and include all the details in the plan.

The following are key terms that you might encounter when working on a project:

  • Project—A temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product or service. Every project has an end.

  • Process—A routine set of tasks repeated many times over. Project management is a process with four separate stages that are repeated for every project: visualize, plan, implement, close.

  • Task or activity—The lowest level of schedule detail is the work package, where managers can estimate durations, set dependencies (which define a critical path), assign resources, and track progress by recording percent complete, actual dates and duration, and actual hours and cost.

  • Deliverable—The specific output as a result of work carried out, usually based on a clearly defined work breakdown structure. It is the actual result of the project. A project usually has both a final deliverable, which is the output received by the customer who determines success, and interim deliverables, which is the output that is required along the way to achieving the project's final goals.

  • Project milestones—Significant completion points in time (with zero duration) during a project that do not necessarily have a deliverable attached. They communicate status and track progress more effectively.

  • Phase—Group of related tasks designed to achieve a specific milestone and usually an interim deliverable, which adds to the successful delivery of the project's final deliverables.

  • Project team—A temporary organization that is assembled to accomplish a specific objective, such as record and edit video, and which is disbanded when the defined work involved is finished.

  • Exit points—Stages between the production phases where issues that could jeopardize the completion of the project are discussed with the client. The goal is to determine how these issues can be worked out to ensure the successful completion of the project. If either side feels that these issues cannot be worked out, the exit point serves as the ending point of the project.

  • Requirements document—A document that includes the project description in terms of what, where, and when. This document serves as a laundry list for you to make sure that you have received all the necessary assets and background information, and that you have understood the client's needs and goals for developing the website.

Scheduling Tools

The use of software scheduling tools, such as Microsoft Project (MSP), will generally result in better project plans (see Figure 4-6).

Figure 4-6Figure 4-6 Scheduling Tools

The following is an overview of how project-management software can provide help with your project:

  • Scope planning—Developing a written scope statement as the basis for future project decisions.

  • Task or activity definition—Identifying the specific tasks that must be performed to produce the various project deliverables.

  • Task sequencing—Identifying and documenting the interactivity dependencies.

  • Task duration estimating—Estimating the number of work periods that will be needed to complete individual tasks.

  • Schedule development—Analyzing task sequences, task durations, and resource requirements to create the project schedule.

  • Resource planning—Determining what resources (people, equipment, materials) and what quantities of each must be used to perform project tasks.

  • Cost estimating—Developing an estimate of the costs of the resources needed to complete project tasks.

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