There have been many industry reports concerning a delayed roll out of Google's cloud Email service for the city of Los Angeles. The City, by the way, is moving from its current GroupWise implementation to Google's cloud based Email service.
It is reported that some city agencies have complained about performance and others complain about security concerns. While I'm sure these issues will be addressed in time, it does bring up some time-tested requirements for large projects.
Although certainly not a complete list, the following documents must be developed and approved long before actual work begins on the implementation of the project.
- The organization must know where it is going or it will end up some place else. That is, a requirements document that clearly defines what the final project is to produce must be developed before work begins on the project. This document should be quite detailed and should list required performance, interoperability with other workloads (and what that really means in day-to-day work), a screen-by-screen description of how the workload should function, how problems and errors are to be addressed, and other basic information about the project.
- A training plan must also be in place. This means that training materials allowing staff to become familiar with important features of the workload must be available prior to actual implementation. This, by the way, must be written in a language staff members understand, not technical jargon.
- A test plan that defines in a very detailed way what the hardware/software must do, how fast it must perform as well as how much storage, network bandwidth and processing it uses now and for a reasonable time into the future must be available prior to the beginning of the project. This means that everyone knows precisely what needs to be accomplished and provides a fixed test showing that the project is complete.
Over the years, I've taken part in and managed many projects. When there is a complete plan on the books and a good team, the project usually runs smoothly. If no requirements document or acceptance test procedure have been defined before work begins, "creeping featurism," that is the endless appearance of new requirements, often takes place and the project is delayed or even fails.
Many projects run into snags that couldn't be foreseen and so, are delayed. This doesn't mean that the project has failed. The true measure isn't whether issues will come up - in practice they will. The best measure is how well these issues are discovered, evaluated and resolved.
Rather than jumping on Google, it would be wise for all of us to take a breath, calm ourselves and see what the company does to address these challenges.