Project Management: Change Control

One of my favorite quotes is: “Nobody likes change but a wet baby!” How true…We all have some area of our life that we just do not want to change. As a project manager, we can like change or hate it, but one thing is for sure — we better manage it well. Managing change requests is a commonly mishandled area in the project lifecycle. Let’s take a look at some considerations.

Sometimes a project team member will forge ahead with changes to the scope of a project, large or small, wanting to “super-please” the change requester or a stakeholder. This is great until the project comes in late and over budget, with no documented change requests. No one likes working hard for weeks or months only to be under-appreciated because changes were not documented. So the next time you manage a project, coach your team to engage you to handle change requests or teach them how to handle the requests and report them to you.

TIP #1: Initiate change control
In addition to the actual request, document the date of the request, the requestor, and the priority and business considerations. Explain that the team will look at the request and that the request will be approved, postponed, or rejected by the stakeholders. And that they will be informed of the result.

To properly discuss a change order with stakeholders, you must determine the impact on such things as the schedule, resources (i.e. dollars), quality, and risk. For instance, you might say that Joe in Accounts Payable wants to add a report, which will cost $800 and will not impact the go live of the project. You will want to convey to the stakeholders the priority and business considerations gathered at the time of the request.

TIP #2: Have stakeholders approve or reject change requests
Stakeholders should make the decision. As a project manager, it is your job to equip them with the additional cost, change in schedule, etc., and then let them decide how they want to proceed.

TIP #3: Make a list of small items
When asked for multiple small changes (together or over a period of time), write them down and batch them together. Multiple small changes can wreak just as much havoc on schedule and budget as a large item, and yet they often are the culprit of overages because it is just one small change, then another, then another. Let the requestor(s) know that you are building a list of small changes that will not be overlooked, but avoid the temptation to address them immediately.

TIP #4: Include a change order log in your status reporting
I am an advocate of weekly status reporting to stakeholders for most projects. I include things like progress vs. plan (schedule and estimate), key items, and a change order log. The change order log should list each change requested, the date and who requested it, the estimated effort, and whether it has been approved or rejected, so that all stakeholders see the changes. This greatly reduces missed expectations at the end of the project, as well as that lousy feeling of being under appreciated.

Dan Ehrhart
V.P., Application Solutions


Message in an eBottle – Email/Message Archiving Solution

Read the story of Donald Wylie (pdf).

As IT professionals investigate solutions to enable their companies’ message storage needs, litigation concerns, and compliance with increasing regulatory requirements; message archiving quickly becomes a topic of discussion. For many, the Barracuda Message Archiver has become their solution of choice. As a complete and affordable email archiving solution, it enables you to effectively index and preserve emails, enhance operational efficiencies and achieve regulatory compliance needs.

The four driving forces for message archiving include:

Storage Management – Not only is the volume of email messages continuing to increase, the average size of an email message is also becoming larger. Increased use of file attachments in email messages results in the average email ranging between 22KB and 350KB. The ability to adequately keep up with these increasing storage demands can be costly. Although storage solutions can provide short term resolutions, email archiving solutions provide a more resourceful way of handling the issue over a longer period.

Knowledge Management – Your email system contains an increasing amount of vital company intelligence, some of which may not be replicated anywhere else. If that email becomes unavailable, you run the risk of losing that intelligence. Email archiving solutions can provide management tools for storing and controlling access to an organizations knowledge base.

Litigation support – Any company in any industry is vulnerable to being implicated in lawsuits. Today’s litigation discovery can involve all parties and requires that all information relevant to the lawsuit be provided at the request of the court of law. Finding and producing such information can often cost more than the actual damages claimed in the lawsuit itself. The use of an email archiving solution can help mitigate many of those costs.

Compliance – The driving force behind the increased demand for email archiving solutions is compliance. The staggering number of regulations – some industry estimates are as many as 10,000 worldwide – requiring email retention and specific parameters regarding how and for how long email should be stored can be confusing for administrators.

The Barracuda Message Archiver is a complete email archiving solution that meets all four driving forces. It enables effective indexing of emails, enhances operational efficiencies and addresses regulatory compliance. It provides everything needed to comply with government regulations within an easily administered plug-and-play hardware solution. It can store and index all email for easy search and retrieval by both in-house personnel and third-party auditors. It receives automatic updates, similar to Barracuda’s SPAM and WEB filtering products, to its extensive library of virus and policy definitions enabling enhanced monitoring of corporate and compliance guidelines, email attached document file format updates, and security updates for the underlying platform.

To learn more about this appliance or to facilitate an evaluation unit, please contact your Keller Schroeder Sr. Account Manager.

 Barracuda Message Archiver FAQ
http://www.barracudanetworks.com/ns/products/archiver-faq.php


Cisco NAC Controls My Sharona Network

As Network Security continues to play an important role within any company environment, as IT professionals, we continue to explore additional tools and mechanisms to enhance infrastructure security. One such product is the Cisco Network Admission Control (NAC) product set.

The Cisco NAC solution is a combination of three primary products including Cisco’s Clean Access Server (CAS), Clean Access Manager (CAM), and Clean Access Agent (CAA). In addition, other products such as the Cisco NAC Network Module for ISR model routers, the Cisco NAC Profiler, Cisco Access Control Server (ACS), and 3rd party product integration (eg. Microsoft’s Network Access Protection) can be deployed to further enhance the overall solution.

The concept behind the Cisco NAC solution is simple. Any device attempting to access a network is quaranteened until NAC enforces company policies regarding anti-virus, anti-spyware, and OS levels. Once determined to be compliant, the device is permitted access based upon the role assigned as part of the process either by user authentication, IP address MAC address, or other means. This can be deployed for wired devices (LAN or WAN), wireless devices, and remote access (VPN) connections.

The two primary methods of deployment are In-Band and Out-of-Band. This is specific to the Cisco CAS (Clean Access Server) placement and relevant to the type of connection for which it is designed to protect. In-Band (“in the path”) deployments are generally for wireless, remote access (VPN) and branch office connections; whereas the Out-of-Band deployments are typically more applicable to the single site campus LAN segment of the infrastructure. The combination of these two deployment methods create a dynamic and flexible solution for most environments.

For more information pertaining to the Cisco NAC solution and the products of which its comprised, you can visit Cisco’s website http://www.cisco.com/go/nac/ and contact your Keller Schroeder Sr. Account Manager to discuss how your environment can benefit from a Cisco NAC solution.