As you may know, I am working for a Japanese Corporation as a Project Manager to migrate all of our users from Lotus Domino email to Exchange. This sounds quite a simple project, and it would be, if there were not so many dependencies on a corporate email infrastructure.
For almost a year, we have been working hard to understand the dependencies, understand all of the risks, complete the design to ensure the most robust, reliable and fault tolerant system we can.
I am from a Lotus Domino background and have more than 13 years consulting experience and I am working with a Technical Architect who has been an Exchange consultant for roughly the same period of time. This relationship has a chemistry which is very useful to the project as we are able to compare best practices and techniques for email on a global level. We have considerable banter regarding our own technology expertise, which is useful when discussing design issues and infrastructure considerations.
People have the misunderstanding of the size of the project, as they think it is a simple case of changing the Lotus Notes client to the Outlook client. This is far from the facts. Imagine that you have a Ford car and just need to change the steering wheel to a model from a Ferrari, then imagine all of the configuration, the systems it integrates with, such as the telephone, radio, windscreen wipers, onboard computer, air bag, indicators.... the list goes on and on. Now think of your email system and the links to other systems it has, such as Mobile messaging, Blackberry, Backup, Monitoring, Anti-virus, Archiving, storage options ... and the list goes on....
Within December, the budget was completed and contains approximately 200 line items, which covers all of the manpower, hardware, software and services that we require to implement our new infrastructure. This shopping list took more than a month to collate, speaking with various suppliers, technical teams and the stakeholders. An approximate budget was set, so reworking the design and streamlining options had to be presented, for example, "If you want to save cost X, then you either remove Y from the architecture, or you run the risk of Z". These decisions were then put to management for final approval.
The project is now getting exciting - and busy. I cannot tell you too much detail for now, but the infrastructure is a considerable size and the engagement of the technical team, vendors and consultants, as well as the recruitment is all starting to build up. This is one of my favorite times in a project, which is taking the design and concepts that have been in development and taking these forward into the final product. The communication and coordination with all of the people is the particular part of Project Management that I enjoy. I have built up many relationships and trusts over the past year and they are now starting to pay off. Communication and being a "people person" is a definite skill required for a Project Manager.
On a monthly basis, I will post an update on the project and try to explain the good parts and the bad parts as we progress.