As more organizations implement big data initiatives, IT project managers are learning how to navigate this emerging world. Earlier this year, I completed a big data platform
rollout project at Nine Entertainment Co. (NEC). I
hope that my insights from the experience can be
valuable to other project managers.
The project kicked off in October 2015, with
completion scheduled for six months later.
Our scope was to commission both a big data
platform to capture emerging data sources and
a business intelligence tool to provide reporting and analytics capabilities. Six major lessons
emerged from the process.
1. Avoid talent bottlenecks. During the project’s
early stages, we relied too much on specific individuals with data platform experience. If the team
member with the specific skill or knowledge we
needed was unavailable, progress ground to a halt.
To manage this, we began training multiple team
members on individual components of the end-to-end technology.
2. Coordinate dependencies. Business intelligence platforms contain a number of integrated
components and dependencies. To manage these
dependencies, I required team members to update
their task statuses at least once per day so owners of
dependent tasks were always aware of the progress.
The first three months of the project was a learning process. But over time, team members came to
understand their roles and the nature of the dependencies, and a healthy cadence was established.
3. Communicate the big picture. Because we
were implementing a new platform containing a
number of integrated components and moving
parts, I came up with a simple one-page diagram
Rami Kaibni, PMP, is projects and development manager at Field & Marten Associates
Inc., a real estate development company
based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Managing a big data project? Here are
six good practices to keep in mind.
By Ajay Ayyar, PMP size of the project—on smaller projects, there
may be no room to cut even one worker.
Communicate More Effectively
Big projects involve more stakeholders and
thus a greater number of communication
channels. Project managers must have a solid
communication plan that identifies all stakeholders along with their influence and impact.
It’s vital to set priorities for reporting and
stakeholder communications and to be as specific as possible in those communications.
Communication can also be more complex
because major capital projects tend to involve
multicultural project teams. On our oil and
gas project, for instance, more than 15 nation-alities were represented on the team. This
means project managers have to ensure that
people with different first languages and culture understand each other’s ways of working
and communicating. Everyone needs to adapt
to the project’s working environment—which,
in a way, is an additional culture. For these
situations, techniques like engaging translators, conducting team-building exercises and
hosting after-work gatherings can help.
Safety comes first on all construction projects,
regardless of size. But on big projects, a huge
number of activities occur in parallel on the
construction site—many requiring specialized
equipment and machinery. All this creates an
increased risk of accidents. While project managers on smaller projects might merely use their
best judgment in addressing risks, megaprojects
require formal risk assessment and detailed
mitigation plans. Highly trained safety experts
also need to be part of the team. PM
Continued from the previous page