Development Phase


The Guide uses a “most requested’ approach to the development phase and divides the development into four stages, Conceptual Analysis, Logical Design, Physical Design and Construction. The work products of these stages are defined in the appropriate section.

The stages and outcomes of the development phase
The stages and outcomes of the development phase

Transition to Development Phase

Moving from project initiation to development should be a smooth transition that is initially marked by the elaboration of requirements and the establishment of the technical infrastructure required to produce the solution. It is quite possible to start development processes while a project is still at the definition stage as long as the project plan has been initiated. Hardware and software requirements for systems development must also be identified and organized. Conceptual Analysis can be conducted without technical infrastructure but may influence technical infrastructure.

From the project management point of view the most significant change with the move to a development phase is that work will undertaken and measured against the plan. It does not matter how accurate the current plan may be; a benchmark should be taken for future reference and the plan should be used for recording all project activity.

Trend analysis can be very important at this stage; are tasks coming in longer or shorter than estimates. This may not indicate that the estimate is inaccurate but may also indicate that there are other project issues. If the initial estimate has an 80% contingency for variation, tasks should be within the contingency area, either under or over. When measuring tasks ensure that two variables are collected, the work effort put against the tasks and the work effort to complete the task, percentage complete is not a useful measure.

Often it is remarked that tasks in IT project become 80% complete and then remain in that state for an extended period of time, this indicates a problem with measurement of the task not the task itself. Percent complete can be derived from the task estimate, but remember that this is only truly accurate when a task is complete.

Basic task metrics:

  • Predicted Task Effort = Effort to Date + Work Effort to Complete

  • Percent Task Complete = Effort to Date / Predicted Task Effort * 100

  • Task Variance = Estimated Task Effort – Predicted Task Effort

  • Predicted Task Completion Date = Task Start Date + Predicted Task Effort

This will start to give you useful figures at a fairly early stage if the Work Effort to Complete is reasonable.

From a project point of view the total variance should be tracked for started tasks and used to predict the outcome of larger project items such as phases.

This calculation can be performed for started tasks:

Percent Project Variance to Date = Total(Task Variance)/Total(Estimated Task Effort)

It should be noted that there is also measurable level on certainty associated with the percentage of task that have been started:

Tasks Started Certainty
Less than 30% Possible
30% to 70% Likely
70% Probable

If the Project Variance remains low, this still does not mean that it will remain low. If the tasks subject to variance or poor estimation are all at the end of the project this may cause unexpected swings. Development metrics need to be continuously monitored if outcomes are to be realistically predicted.