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Tokenized Encryption: The Project Nexus

Tokenized Encryption

The project generating this article largely involves implementation of a mainframe-based cryptographic interface oriented primarily to CICS Transaction Server, COBOL and MVS. However, these principles and concepts apply to all IT platforms. In fact, the project plan includes tasks and activities involved in converting the client’s websites using different programming languages and software to enable cryptographic operations and PCI compliance.

In preparation for this article, I searched “project planning” on the internet and got pages of hits on tools, methodologies and products. I then searched “project plan tracking,” which led to a handful of mostly vague hits on its value (although there were a couple very well-written articles on methodology and benefits). This confirmed my suspicion that there are all sorts of vendor and consultant sites about plan creation, but only a few actually discuss plan usage. Ironically, even if you do all due diligence—drilling down to the tiniest detail, carefully reviewing the plan with all participants and relevant management, in short, doing all the right things to produce a comprehensive and superior plan—but fail to use the project plan to run it, even the finest plan isn’t worth much.

A project plan is of little use if it’s not the project nexus—the guiding light to all project activities, prioritization, sequence, timing, interdependencies and critical paths. A project status meeting is what gives the plan its steering wheel, its gas pedal, its GPS and its warning lights. This is especially true for complex projects such as a payment card industry (PCI) compliance conversion where new technology needs to be implemented, hard deadlines must be met, multiple applications are impacted and require modification and the company’s future depends on its success.

One past article discussed a two- to three-day kickoff meeting with all project participants collaborating to create a high-level project plan. Another discussed the use of many small meetings to flesh out task details necessary to transform the high-level project plan into a living, effective project plan. You can also have a mid-sized, weekly project status meeting; this is the element that turns a project plan into a project nexus. This type of meeting is attended by project members who review progress, engendering questions like: Who’s doing what? What’s running behind? Who’s waiting on who or what? What’s taking more time than projected? What obstacles have arisen? Who needs help and when? What needs to be added or removed? What should I do next? A successful project status meeting reveals the answers to all of these questions and more.

Project Status Meetings

The project status meeting enlivens the project plan. While these gatherings are typically weekly, the frequency can vary based on activity, critical issues, urgency, looming deadlines and/or milestones, etc. Meetings usually last between one to 1.5 hours, and a schedule helps staff members plan their time. It’s imperative for the project manager or assistant to keep things moving, limit needless discussion and address important issues while involving all participants. It’s a sizable time commitment, so it needs to be productive. A project secretary should also attend to record activity and discussion.

Jim Schesvold is a technical editor for IBM Systems Magazine. Jim can be reached at jschesvold@mainframehelp.com.



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