An introduction to the MOF Project Planning SMF

Our previous blog articles in this series explain the role of the Microsoft Operations Framework (MOF), service management functions (SMF’s) and introduce ITIL IQ™ which is the first step in implementing MOF within your business. Before you use this SMF, you may want to read the following ITIL IQ™ guidance to learn more about the MOF IT service lifecycle, the MOF Plan Phase and the MOF Deliver Phase:

Blog Article 1: What’s your ITIL IQ™? Meet MOF
Blog Article 2: The MOF Plan Phase
Blog Article 7: The MOF Deliver Phase
Blog Article 8: The MOF Envision SMF

The MOF IT service lifecycle encompasses all the activities and processes involved in managing an IT service: its conception, development, operation, maintenance, and ultimately its retirement. MOF organises these activities and processes into Service Management Functions (SMFs), which are grouped together in phases that mirror the IT service lifecycle. Each SMF is anchored within a lifecycle phase and contains a unique set of goals and outcomes supporting the objectives of that phase. An IT service’s readiness to move from one phase to the next is confirmed by management reviews, which ensure that goals are being achieved in an appropriate fashion and that IT’s goals are aligned with the goals of the organisation.

Each SMF is anchored within a lifecycle phase and contains a unique set of goals and outcomes supporting the objectives of that phase. The SMFs can be used as standalone sets of processes, but it is when SMFs are used together that they are most effective in ensuring service delivery at the desired quality and risk levels.

The Project Planning SMF belongs to the Deliver phase of the MOF IT service lifecycle. The following figure shows the place of the Project Planning SMF within the Deliver phase, as well as the location of the Deliver phase within the IT service lifecycle.

MOF-Project-Planning-SMF

Figure 1. Position of the MOF Project Planning SMF within the IT service lifecycle

Why Use the MOF Project Planning Envision SMF?

The Project Planning SMF should be useful to anyone who has the primary role in planning an IT service project, including preparing the functional specification and solution design and preparing work plans, cost estimates, and schedules.

This SMF addresses the following IT service project planning actions:

  • Evaluate products and technologies.
  • Write the functional specification.
  • Package the master project plan.
  • Create the master schedule.
  • Review the Project Plans Approved Milestone.
Project Planning Service Management Overview

During project planning, project teams complete the bulk of their planning work—preparing the functional specification and solution design and preparing work plans, cost estimates, and schedules for the various deliverables—which they roll up into a master project plan and master schedule.

Project planning follows envisioning and is kicked off after the project team meets the requirements of the Vision/Scope Approved Management Review. Prior to beginning project planning, program management must choose a management discipline to apply to the project. Possibilities include Microsoft® Solutions Framework (MSF), agile software development, Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) process management, Scrum, and Lean. While MSF is the basis for much of this SMF, organizations can easily adapt this SMF to any management discipline.

The Project Plans Approved MR marks the end of project planning. At this management review, project teams and their customers agree in detail on what they will deliver and when they will deliver it. They also re-assess project risks, update priorities, and finalize resource and schedule estimates. At this management review, project teams submit a formal Request for Change (RFC) to IT operations. For more information about the Project Plans Approved MR, see the Deliver Phase Overview.

Project Planning SMF Role Types

The primary team accountability that applies to the Project Planning SMF is the Solution Accountability. The key role type for the SMF is Program Manager. All role types within the accountability and their primary activities within this SMF are displayed in the following table.

Table 1. Solution Accountability and Its Attendant Role Types

Role Type Responsibilities Role in This SMF
Solution Manager Accountable role

Owns all SMFs in this accountability

Acts as project director for all projects

Resolves conflicts between projects

Ongoing oversight
Program Manager Drives design, schedule, and resources at the project level Sets design goals

Describes the solution concept

Creates the project structure

Developer Builds the agreed-to solution Builds prototypes

Investigates development and technology options

Analyses the project’s feasibility

Tester Tests to accurately determine the status of solution development Tests strategies

Tests acceptance criteria

Documents project implications

Product Manager Acts as the customer advocate

Helps drive shared project vision

Manages customer expectations

Sets overall goals

Identifies customer needs

Determines project requirements

Produces the vision/scope document

User Experience Acts as the user advocate on project teams

Helps define user requirements

Helps design to meet user requirements

Documents user performance requirements

Documents project test implications

Release Management Evaluates the solution design

Documents operations requirements to ensure they’re met by the design

Creates a pilot, deployment plan, and schedule

Manages site deployment

Documents deployment implications

Documents operations management and supportability

Documents operations acceptance criteria

Operations Experience Advocates for operations on the project team

Brings in operations experts as needed for detailed information

Coordinates with release management

Documents operations performance requirements
Test Manager Owns all testing across all project teams

Develops testing strategy and plans

Ensures that best practice test methods are used

Ongoing oversight
Architect (role type within Architecture Accountability) Looks at future directions and solutions to propose across infrastructure

Designs future state

Helps evaluate products and technologies being considered for building or deploying the solution
Goals of Project Planning

The ultimate goal of project planning is to deliver a clearly scoped plan for building and delivering an IT service solution, which is represented by a master project plan, a master project schedule, and a functional specification at the Project Plans Approved MR, when the project team, its customers, and its stakeholders agree that the team has met all interim milestones. They also agree that the schedule is realistic, the roles and responsibilities of team members are well defined, and procedures are in place to address project risk. At this point, the team also baselines and places under change control all project planning deliverables.

Table 2 shows the desired outcomes of the Project Planning SMF goals and lists measures that can gauge how successfully the team has achieved these goals.

Table 2. Outcomes and Measures of the Project Planning SMF Goals

 

Outcomes Measures
The design and features of the solution are clearly documented in the functional specification Number of bugs filed during development

Number of change requests needed for clarification

Functional specification approved by the team and stakeholders

Signoff on the Project Plans Approved MR

Support tickets during pilot or other phases of the project

The design and features of the solution are clearly traceable to business, user, operational, and system requirements Number of features that cannot be traced to requirements

Functional specification approved by the team and stakeholders

Signoff on the Project Plans Approved MR

The project plans clearly describe the tasks for which the project team is responsible and the schedules for performing those tasks Number of tasks completed on schedule and as planned

Master project plan approved by the team and stakeholders

Master project schedule approved by the team and stakeholders

Signoff on the Project Plans Approved MR

Key Terms

The following table contains definitions of key terms found in this SMF.

Table 3. Key Terms

Term Definition
Baseline A known state by which something is measured or compared. Baselines make managing change in complex projects possible.
Bottom-up scheduling Team members representing each role generate time estimates and schedules for deliverables. Each team’s schedule is integrated into a master project schedule.
Conceptual design Conceptual design involves understanding the business requirements and defining the features that users need to do their jobs. Product management takes the lead in creating the conceptual design, which begins during envisioning and continues with project planning.
Customer For IT solutions, the customer is the person or organization that commissions and funds the project (typically management).
Interim milestone Early progress indicator that segments large work efforts into manageable portions. The Deliver Phase recommends a set of interim milestones, but project teams should define their own interim milestones that make sense for their projects.
Logical design Logical design uses the conceptual design and the current state of the technology infrastructure to define the new architecture at a high level.
Milestone A project synchronization point. Major milestones mark the transition of a project from one phase to the next phase. They also transfer primary responsibility from one role to another role. The Deliver Phase SMFs correspond to major Microsoft Solutions Framework (MSF) milestones.
Personas Describes various types of users and their job functions, including operations staff.
Physical design Physical design describes the desired architecture in greater detail than the logical design. It also defines the hardware configurations and software products to be used. As a general rule, the design should contain enough detail to enable the team to begin work on the project plan.
Scope A view of the project’s vision limited by constraints such as time and resources. Solution scope describes the solution’s features and deliverables. Project scope describes the work to be performed by the team.
Solution A coordinated delivery of technologies, documentation, training, and support to successfully respond to a unique customer’s business problem. Solutions typically combine people, processes, and technology to solve problems.
Stakeholder Individuals or groups who have an interest in the outcome of the project. Their goals and priorities are not always identical to those of the customer. Examples of stakeholders include departmental managers who will be affected by the solution, IT staff who will be responsible for running and supporting the solution, and functional managers who contribute resources to the project team.
Users The people who interact with the solution to perform their jobs.
Use case Describes an individual task performed in a use scenario.
Use scenario Describes a particular activity that a user tries to accomplish, such as processing a transaction or checking e-mail.
Vision Describes the fundamental goals of the solution.
Conclusion

The Project Planning SMF addresses how to plan an IT service project, including how to write a functional specification and solution design, as well as how to prepare work plans, cost estimates, and schedules.

This SMF addresses the following IT service project planning actions:

  • Evaluate products and technologies.
  • Write the functional specification.
  • Package the master project plan.
  • Create the master schedule.
  • Review the Project Plans Approved Milestone.
How do we implement MOF?

At First Solution, we’re experts in MOF and have even developed a unique ITIL IQ™ process that benchmarks a business’s current state, identifies their desired state and provides an action plan (called a Service Delivery Plan) that helps organisations of all sizes achieve their desired business outcomes. Most importantly, our unique ITIL IQ™ process begins with a Proactive Services Maturity Review (PSMR) which identifies a score (out of 100) that clearly communicates the current state of your businesses IT operational maturity. Armed with your ITIL IQ™ score, a finance or procurement professional can concisely present to the board the businesses current state, desired state, and ITIL IQ™ score with an action plan to improve the ITIL IQ™ score and thereby ensure that IT’s goals are aligned with the goals of the business and that both are progressing together.

How can I plan better IT projects?

Simply get in touch to arrange a free Proactive Services Maturity Review and one of our MOF experts will conduct an interview with the person responsible for the IT function within your business and provide an ITIL IQ™ score with which you can measure the performance of your IT function. Once you know your ITIL IQ score we can provide a Service Delivery Plan to help you improve it each month and measure and report progress back to you during a Monthly Service Review. And there we have it, an ITIL based solution to simply identify and measure the performance of your IT function. So, are you ready to plan better IT projects?

 

The Microsoft Operations Framework 4.0 is provided with permission from Microsoft Corporation. 

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