Task - 01
1.1 Success of the Project
Every organization requires good leadership in order to carry out all their projects successfully. This requires the organization to appoint efficient project managers to carry out various tasks, and of course to guide and lead the project management team and get them to a point where they have effectively completed any given project at hand, taking into account a whole load of factors.
In order to understand how project management can run smoothly, it is important to first identify the role ant the tasks carried out by the project manager. So who is a project manager and why is he/she so important?
The Role of a Project Manager
The role of a project manager basically involves handling all aspects of the project.
This includes not just the logistics but also the planning, brainstorming and seeing to the overall completion of the project while also preventing glitches and ensuring that the project management team works well together.
The Goals of a Project Manager
Following should be the main goals for a project manager but they are not limited to the listed one because it very much depends on the situation.
A project manager must always be able to carry out his role in a very effective manner.
This means that in most cases he/she would have to run against time with the clock ticking away. All projects would have deadlines, so it is the duty of a project manager to complete the project by this given date.
It should be noted that although the project manager and his team may draw up a schedule at the outset that may seem perfect, as time goes on you will find that the requirements may change, and the projects may require new strategies to be implemented and more planning to be carried out.
Time therefore could be a big obstacle for a project manager achieving his/her goal. As the project manager you should never lose sight of the deadline, your role would be to keep pushing your team to finish the work and deliver on time.
Remember that your clients' satisfaction is your number one priority.
2) Client Satisfaction:
Satisfaction of the client however does not mean that you rush to finish the work on time without ensuring that standards are met.
The reputation of your organization would depend on the quality of the delivery of your projects. This is another factor you should not lose sight of throughout the project.
Your role would also be to keep reminding the team members that quality is key.
3) No Budget Overrun:
No project can be started off without the preparation of the budget. Although this is just a forecast of the costs that would be incurred, it is essential that this budget is prepared after careful research and comparing prices to get the best.
You would need to consider ways of cutting costs while also ensuring that you meet the needs of the client as well as meeting the standards expected of your organization.
This budget must include all costs, with regard equipment, labor and everything else. You then need to try and always stick to the budget, although it's always best to leave some allowance for a few 100 dollars for any additional expenses that may arise.
4) Requirements Coverage:
Another goal of a project manager involves meeting all requirements of the client. You would need to therefore have all specifications at hand, and go through them every once in a while to ensure that you are on track.
If there is confusion as to any requirements, it would be best for you to get them cleared at the very beginning.
5) Team Management:
While you would have to ensure that all aspects of the project are maintained, you are also responsible as project manager for the happiness of your team.
You need to keep in mind that it is the incentives and encouragement provided to them that will make them work harder and want to complete the work on time, thereby helping you reach your goals.
If the team members are unhappy with the way things are being carried out, productivity will also in turn decrease, pulling you further away from achieving your goals. It is essential therefore to always maintain a warm friendly relationship with them.
The communication within the team should be very effective. They should be willing to voice out their opinions, while you listen to their suggestions and consider including them in the project.
This is after all a team effort. Your goals with regard to the project are also their goals.
The role of a project manager is therefore no easy task. It involves taking up a lot of responsibility as each of the goals of the project must be met without making too many sacrifices.
If these goals are outlined to the project management team at the very beginning, there in no way for the delivery of the goals to be delayed in any way as everyone will always be aware of what they need to achieve and by when.
1.2Team Work Quality and Project Quality Plan
Team Work Quality
Although a good project plan generally leads to success, it's not enough. Everything that we do and the things that we do are all connected with people. We live because of people, we work with people, we work for people and we could say that we depend of people. That's why in a project the most important things are the team. So it's all about the people you work with.
The project team can be built up of human resources within one functional organization, or it can consist of members from many different functional organizations. A cross-functional team has members from multiple organizations and this is a recommended thing to do. The most important tasks that the project team has are:
- Understanding the work to be completed.
- Planning out the assigned activities in more detail if needed.
- Completing assigned work within the budget, timeline and quality expectations.
- Informing the project manager of issues, scope changes, and risk and quality concerns.
- Proactively communicating status and managing expectations.
But what is really a project team? It's formed by some people that know very well what they are doing and that are headed by a project manager who is responsible for the successful outcome of the project. His job is very important because he must also form and educate team members and teach them how to do what is needed when they don't know.
The project team carry a huge responsibility upon it's shoulders: the success or the failure of the project. Its members are the one who practically execute the project, who give reports to the project manager, who make changes and corrections when needed. Each member of this team has his own task, which represents a part of the whole project. So it's important that everyone respects what he must do so the final result is a good one.
Project Quality Plan
Every project delivers something at the end of the project execution. When it comes to the project initiation, the project management and the client collaboratively define the objectives and the deliveries of the project together with the completion timelines.
During the project execution, there are a number of project deliveries made. All these deliveries should adhere to certain quality standards (industry standards) as well as specific client requirements.
Therefore, each of these deliveries should be validated and verified before delivering the client. For that, there should be a quality assurance function which runs from start to the end of the project.
When it comes to the quality, not only the quality of the deliveries that matter the most. The processes or activities that produce deliverables should also adhere to certain quality guidelines as well.
As a principle, if the processes and activities that produce the deliverables do not adhere to their own quality standards (process quality standards), then there is a high probability that deliverables not meeting the delivery quality standards.
To address all the quality requirements, standards, and quality assurance mechanisms in a project, a document called 'project quality plan' is developed by the project team. This plan acts as the quality bible for the project and all the stakeholders of the project should adhere to the project quality plan.
The Components of a Project Quality Plan
Depending on the nature of the industry and the nature of the project, the components or the areas addressed by a quality plan may vary. However, there are some components that can be found in any type of quality plan.
Let's have a look at the most essential attributes of a project quality plan.
Responsibility of Management
This describes how the management is responsible for achieving the project quality. Since management is the controlling and monitoring function for the project, project quality is mainly a management responsibility.
Document Management and Control
Documents are the main method of communication in project management. Documents are used for communication between the team members, project management, senior management, and the client.
Therefore, the project quality plan should describe a way to manage and control the documents used in the project. Usually, there can be a common documentation repository with controlled access in order to store and retrieve the documents.
The correct requirements to be implemented are listed here. This is an abstraction of the requirements sign-off document. Having requirements noted in the project quality plan helps the quality assurance team to correctly validate them.
This way, quality assurance function knows what exactly to test and what exactly to leave out from the scope. Testing the requirements that are not in the scope maybe a waste for the services provider.
This specifies the controls and procedures used for the design phase of the project. Usually, there should be design reviews in order to analyses the correctness of the proposed technical design. For fruitful design reviews, senior designers or the architects of the respective domain should get involved. Once the designs are reviewed and agreed, they are signed-off with the client.
With the time, the client may come up with changes to the requirements or new requirements. In such cases, designed maybe changed. Every time the design changes, the changes should be reviewed and signed-off.
Development Control and Rigor
Once the construction of the project starts, all the processes, procedures, and activities should be closely monitored and measured. By this type of control, the project management can make sure that the project is progressing in the correct path.
Testing and Quality Assurance
This component of the project quality plan takes precedence over other components. This is the element which describes the main quality assurance functions of the project. This section should clearly identify the quality objectives for the project and the approach to achieve them.
Risks & Mitigation
This section identifies the project quality risks. Then, the project management team should come up with appropriate mitigation plans in order to address each quality risk.
For every project, regardless of its size or the nature, there should be periodic quality audits to measure the adherence to the quality standards. These audits can be done by an internal team or an external team.
Sometimes, the client may employ external audit teams to measure the compliance to standards and procedures of the project processes and activities.
During testing and quality assurance, defects are usually caught. This is quite common when it comes to software development projects. The project quality plan should have guidelines and instructions on how to manage the defects.
Every project team requires some kind of training before the project commences. For this, a skill gap analysis is done to identify the training requirements at the project initiation phase.
The project quality plan should indicate these training requirements and necessary steps to get the staff trained.
Project quality plan is one of the mandatory documents for any type of project.
As long as a project has defined objectives and deliverables, there should be a project quality plan to measure the delivery and process quality.
1.3Over run of cost
Current performance is the best indicator of future performance, and therefore using trend data, it is possible to forecast cost or schedule overruns at an early stage in a project. The most comprehensive trend analysis technique is the Earned Value method.
In a nutshell, Earned Value is an approach where you monitor the project plan, actual work, and work-completed value to see if a project is on track. Earned Value shows how much of the budget and time should have been spent, with regard to the amount of work done so far.
Here are five other definitions:
- Angler and Associates, Inc define it as, "A method for measuring project performance. It compares the amount of work that was planned with what was actually accomplished to determine if cost and schedule performance is as planned."
- Project Magazine defines it as, "A methodology used to measure and communicate the real physical progress of a project taking into account the work complete, the time taken and the costs incurred to complete that work."
- The user guide for Microsoft Project 2003 defines Earned Value as, "A method for measuring project performance. It indicates how much of the budget should have been spent, in view of the amount of work done so far and the baseline cost for the task, assignment, or resources."
- Field Operative defines it as, "The physical work accomplished plus the authorized budget for this work. The sum of the approved cost estimates, (which may include overhead allocation), for activities, (or portions of activities), completed during a given period, usually project-to-date."
- NASA defines it as, "An integrated management control system for assessing, understanding and quantifying what a contractor or field activity is achieving with program dollars. EVM provides project management with objective, accurate and timely data for effective decision making."
Earned Value differs from the usual budget verses actual costs incurred model, in that it requires the cost of work in progress to be quantified. This allows the project manager to compare how much work has been completed, against how much he expected to be completed at a given point.
The project manager needs to agree the project scope, create a Work Breakdown Structure ¹ (WBS) and assign budget to each work package ², the lowest level of the WBS. Next he or she will create a schedule showing the calendar time it will take to complete the work. This overall plan is baseline (this is the planned value) and used to measure performance throughout the project. As each work package is completed (earned) it is compared with planned value, showing the work achieved against plan. A variance to the plan is recorded as a time or schedule deviation.
It is necessary to get the actual costs incurred for the project from the organizations' accounting system. This cost is compared with the earned value to show an overrun or under run.
Earned Value provides the project manager with an objective way of measuring performance and predicting future outcomes. This can enable him or her to report progress with greater confidence and highlight any overrun earlier. This in turn, enables the management team to make cost and time allocation decisions earlier than would otherwise be the case.
It is true that past performance is a good indicator of future performance. Earned Value is a useful tool for predicting the outcome of projects in terms of time to completion, cost to completion and expected final costs.
Earned Value is also known as Performance Measurement, Management by Objectives, Budgeted Cost of Work Performed and Cost Schedule Control Systems.
1.4 Project manager
A leader is a person who directs and mentors other people. He interprets the group objectives and led them towards the fulfillment of the objectives. He must provide a way to the group performing under him. Leadership is an important element for a manager. A manager has it guide his troops at different levels in the enterprise.
A project leader should be a responsible person. He should stand by his decision and has to be ready for the related consequences. He should take decision wisely and for the betterment of the project. A team leader should be able to interact with his team in a friendly ways in order to extract their maximum output for the project.
Four categories of qualifications can be listed for the successful project manager. Those are personal characteristics, behavioral skills, general skills, and technical skills.
- Flexible and adaptable
- Preference for initiative and leadership
- Confidence, persuasiveness, verbal fluency
- Effective communicator and integrator
- Able to balance technical solutions with time, cost, and human factors
- Well-organized and disciplined
- A generalist rather than a specialist
- Able to devote most of his time to planning and controlling
- Able to identify problems and to make decisions
- Able to devote the time and effort and to maintain a proper balance in use of time
These characteristics are important because of the environment where the project manager works and the responsibilities and restrictions placed on the role. Obviously, project managers must be able to work in situations where there are constants dead-lines, great uncertainty, start ups and close outs, and constant change in goals, tasks, people, and relationships. At the same time, they must be able to gain the respect, trust, and confidence of others.
A project manager needs strong behavioral and interpersonal skills. In particular, he must be an active listener, active communicator, and able to capitalize on informal communication channels. To be an active listener, a project manager must master the art of questioning for clarification and paraphrasing to ensure he understands verbal messages. He must know how to build trust, promote team spirit, and reward corporation through praise and credit (often the only forms of reward he has). To be able to facilitate communication and integrate technical work he has to know the jargon of the specialists.
General Business Skills
The project manager is, after all, a manager and so should have general business skills also. These should include:
- Understanding of the organization and the business
- Understanding of general management-marketing, control, contract work, purchasing, law, personal administration, and (in profit environments) the general concept of profitability
- Ability t translates business requirements into project and system requirements.
- Strong, active, continuous interest in teaching, training, and developing subordinates
To make informed decisions, project managers' must be able to grasp the technical aspect of the project. In non-or low-technology environments, understanding can be developed through experience and informal training. In high-technology projects, qualifications are more rigorous, usually including a career molded in the technology environment and knowledge of many fields of science or engineering. (John. M. Nicholas, 2001)
Although project managers seldom to technical analysis, they must be technically qualified so as to formulate and make technical judgments. In a technical project, the project manager:
Must be capable of both integration and analysis, and must understand that the rigorous training of professional technologies with its emphasis on analysis sometimes impairs their integrative ability.
The ability to communicate with people at all levels is one of the important skills by project managers. He should have a clear communication about goals, responsibilities, performance, expectations and feedback.
There is a great deal of value placed on openness and directness. The project leader is also the team's link to the larger organization. The leader must have the ability to effectively negotiate and use persuasion when necessary to ensure the success of the team and project. Through effective communication, project leaders support individual and team achievements by creating explicit guidelines for accomplishing results and for the career advancement of team members.
One of the most important things a project leader must remember is that his or her actions, and not words, set the modus operandi for the team. Good leadership demands commitment to, and demonstration of, ethical practices. Creating standards for ethical behavior for oneself and living by these standards, as well as rewarding those who exemplify these practices, are responsibilities of project leaders. Leadership motivated by self-interest does not serve the well being of the team. Leadership based on integrity represents nothing less than a set of values others share, behavior consistent with values and dedication to honesty with self and team members.
Plain and simple, we don't like leaders who are negative - they bring us down. We want leaders with enthusiasm, with a bounce in their step, with a can-do attitude. We want to believe that we are part of an invigorating journey - we want to feel alive. Enthusiastic leaders are committed to their goals and express this commitment through optimism. Leadership emerges as someone expresses such confident commitment to a project that others want to share his or her optimistic expectations. Enthusiasm is contagious and effective leaders know it.
Simply put, to enlist in another's cause, we must believe that that person knows what he or she is doing. Leadership competence does not however necessarily refer to the project leader's technical abilities in the core technology of the business. As project management continues to be recognized as a field in and of itself, project leaders will be chosen based on their ability to successfully lead others rather than on technical expertise, as in the past. Having a winning track record is the surest way to be considered competent. Expertise in leadership skills is another dimension in competence. The ability to challenge, inspire, enable, model and encourage must be demonstrated if leaders are to be seen as capable and competent.
Team building skill
A team builder can greatest be defined as a strong person who provides the material that holds the team together in common purpose toward the right objective. In order for a team to progress from a group of strangers to a single cohesive unit, the leader must understand the process and dynamics required for this transformation. He or she must also know the appropriate leadership style to use during each stage of team development. The leader must also have an understanding of the different team players styles and how to capitalize on each at the proper time, for the problem at hand.
Good problem solver
Although an effective leader is said to share problem-solving responsibilities with the team, we expect our project leaders to have excellent problem-solving skills themselves. They have a “fresh, creative response to here-and-now opportunities,” and not much concern with how others have performed them.
Flexible and adaptable
A project manager is not so rigid that he can't make adjustments in the game plan to reach his intended goal. He cheerfully meets a crisis head on, knowing that there are always to resolve a challenge.
Ability to Delegate tasks
Trust is an essential element in the relationship of a project leader and his or her team. You demonstrate your trust in others through your actions - how much you check and control their work, how much you delegate and how much you allow people to participate. Individuals who are unable to trust other people often fail as leaders and forever remain little more that micro-managers, or end up doing all of the work themselves.
Pressure handling skills
In a perfect world, projects would be delivered on time, under budget and with no major problems or obstacles to overcome. But we don't live in a perfect world projects have problems. A project manager with a hardly attitude will take these problems in stride. When managers encounter a stressful event, they consider it interesting, they feel they can influence the outcome and they see it as an opportunity.
Every project manager should have a vision, a vision of what he wants the project to be like, a vision of how to get things done and a vision of the near future of the project. And he needs to be able to convey this vision to his team members. Only when there is vision is there going to be real involvement on the part of the project manager and thus involvement on part of the team members. This is when the team members and project manager start feeling like a part of the organization and not just the project.
(John. M. Nicholas, 2001).
As healthcare executives work to increase efficiency and decrease costs in a dynamic healthcare environment, they often undertake projects such as technology implementation, operational and process improvements and facility planning. These projects typically require the formation of collaborative teams comprising hospital leadership and staff as well as project managers and support staff from vendors and outside consulting firms. Executives must be prepared to establish efficient project teams that focus on communication and collaboration to achieve success.
The strategic alignment of organizations and individuals with differing expertise and backgrounds can be both beneficial and challenging. Despite potential barriers, project success can be attained using five simple steps.
Build the Right Team
The best project teams include stakeholders at all levels, from executives to those individuals at the front line. These individuals have the inside knowledge that will be critical to the success of technical experts from external organizations. Including front-line staff allows managers to remain involved in the project, while the true end users, either clinical or nonclinical, contribute directly to the project's success, including improved healthcare operations and outcomes. Front-line champions also may assist in training other staff during project implementation.
A corporate lead is imperative for project success. In addition to high-level managerial duties, individuals at the executive level are sources of morale and motivation. Success is more easily achieved when executives lead by example and promote the changes and behaviors expected from staff.
In addition, identifying an individual within the organization to serve as the project manager and single point of contact throughout the project is important. This individual is the liaison through which all communications pass, thus maintaining a communication structure. The project manager remains involved throughout the duration of the project and is ultimately accountable for all project details and deliverables.
Timely, accurate, useful and credible communication is critical to maintaining a cohesive team environment and achieving project success. Strategies, goals and project information should be communicated consistently throughout each stage of the process so all team members remain equally informed. To maintain quality communication, a collaborative project team must develop and cultivate group norms that encourage open sharing of information. A no surprises attitude must be adopted to foster a trusting work environment, which contributes to project success.
Busy schedules and multiple projects may challenge efforts for frequent communication. To ensure timely information delivery, be proactive about approaching potential obstacles. The team leader should schedule recurrent face-to-face meetings to encourage ongoing discussion and ensure that deliverables are completed within project time frames. When face-to-face meetings are not possible, conference calls should be used. In addition, the Internet allows project leads to communicate project status and successes to stakeholders. Blogs and other Web postings on facility Web sites make information sharing easy and convenient.
To achieve success, project team leaders must emphasize the importance of collaborative planning and goal setting. Groups that plan together are typically more successful, particularly because project plans, deliverables and goals are explicitly stated, and all expectations are communicated and understood. A collaborative team structure fosters a learning environment where experts can share knowledge and experiences. Individual input and participation furthers each party's interests in and commitment to the project.
Collaborative goal setting allows team members to achieve individual successes, while still contributing to the overarching project goals. A vendor, for instance, may focus on increased sales, while a facility focuses on overall cost reduction in a particular area. Collaborative project teams should develop a plan that motivates all entities to achieve success. In this example, the vendor might reward the organization for its increased purchases with a volume-based price reduction. If consultants are involved, they could be rewarded through an enhanced project management fee associated with increasing levels of success. By matching each team member's incentive to the overall goals, the entire team is further motivated to achieve success.
Recognize and Overcome Barriers
There are a number of potential barriers that arise when working in a team environment. However, the healthcare environment is especially challenging due to its unique makeup. Project leads may be challenged to facilitate relationships among people of very different backgrounds but who share the common goal of providing patient services. The relationships between clinical and nonclinical staff and management may be challenging to manage, even under the most optimal circumstances. Departments often are accustomed to working in silos; however, success only can be achieved if these units work together. This is particularly important across clinical and nonclinical departments. Nursing, for example, must work with finance and materials management to ensure successful acquisition and implementation of a new piece of equipment. Opening lines of communication across departments is a key step to overcoming the challenge presented by separated departments.
Project team leaders must also anticipate barriers that may exist within the scope of a project, due, in part, to the mixed nature of a project team. Potential challenges might include:
- Goals and deliverables not being met
- Lack of time management and follow-up
- Clashing personalities
- Disagreements between experts-clinical versus technical
- Political challenges
Despite the variables that might contribute to project challenges, by communicating team goals and expectations openly and effectively, these barriers can be overcome.
1.4.3 Job Functions
The key to a successful project is in the planning. Creating a project plan is the first thing you should do when undertaking any kind of project.
Often project planning is ignored in favor of getting on with the work. However, many people fail to realize the value of a project plan in saving time, money and many problems.
This article looks at a simple, practical approach to project planning. On completion of this guide, you should have a sound project planning approach that you can use for future projects.
A project is successful when the needs of the stakeholders have been met. A stakeholder is anybody directly or indirectly impacted by the project.
As a first step, it is important to identify the stakeholders in your project. It is not always easy to identify the stakeholders of a project, particularly those impacted indirectly. Examples of stakeholders are:
- The project sponsor.
- The customer who receives the deliverables.
- The users of the project outputs.
- The project manager and project team.
Once you understand who the stakeholders are, the next step is to find out their needs. The best way to do this is by conducting stakeholder interviews. Take time during the interviews to draw out the true needs that create real benefits. Often stakeholders will talk about needs that aren't relevant and don't deliver benefits. These can be recorded and set as a low priority.
The next step, once you have conducted all the interviews, and have a comprehensive list of needs is to priorities them. From the prioritized list, create a set of goals that can be easily measured. A technique for doing this is to review them against the SMART principle. This way it will be easy to know when a goal has been achieved.
Once you have established a clear set of goals, they should be recorded in the project plan. It can be useful to also include the needs and expectations of your stakeholders.
This is the most difficult part of the planning process completed. It's time to move on and look at the project deliverables.
Using the goals you have defined in step 1, create a list of things the project needs to deliver in order to meet those goals. Specify when and how each item must be delivered.
Add the deliverables to the project plan with an estimated delivery date. More accurate delivery dates will be established during the scheduling phase, which is next.
Create a list of tasks that need to be carried out for each deliverable identified in step 2. For each task identify the following:
- The amount of effort (hours or days) required to complete the task.
- The resource that will carry out the task.
Once you have established the amount of effort for each task, you can work out the effort required for each deliverable, and an accurate delivery date. Update your deliverables section with the more accurate delivery dates.
At this point in the planning, you could choose to use a software package such as Microsoft Project to create your project schedule. Alternatively, use one of the many free templates available. Input all of the deliverables, tasks, durations and the resources who will complete each task.
A common problem discovered at this point, is when a project has an imposed delivery deadline from the sponsor that is not realistic based on your estimates. If you discover that this is the case, you must contact the sponsor immediately. The options you have in this situation are:
- Renegotiate the deadline (project delay).
- Employ additional resources (increased cost).
- Reduce the scope of the project (less delivered).
- Use the project schedule to justify pursuing one of these options.
Use the project schedule to justify pursuing one of these options.
This section deals with plans you should create as part of the planning process. These can be included directly in the plan.
Human Resource Plan
Identify by name, the individuals and organizations with a leading role in the project. For each, describe their roles and responsibilities on the project.
Next, describe the number and type of people needed to carry out the project. For each resource detail start dates, estimated duration and the method you will use for obtaining them.
Create a single sheet containing this information.
Create a document showing that needs to be kept informed about the project and how they will receive the information. The most common mechanism is a weekly or monthly progress report, describing how the project is performing, milestones achieved and work planned for the next period.
Risk Management Plan
Risk management is an important part of project management. Although often overlooked, it is important to identify as many risks to your project as possible, and be prepared if something bad happens.
Here are some examples of common project risks:
- Time and cost estimates too optimistic.
- Customer review and feedback cycle too slow.
- Unexpected budget cuts.
- Unclear roles and responsibilities.
- Stakeholder input is not sought, or their needs are not properly understood.
- Stakeholders changing requirements after the project has started.
- A stakeholder adding new requirements after the project has started.
- Poor communication resulting in misunderstandings, quality problems and rework.
- Lack of resource commitment.
Risks can be tracked using a simple risk log. Add each risk you have identified to your risk log; write down what you will do in the event it occurs, and what you will do to prevent it from occurring. Review your risk log on a regular basis, adding new risks as they occur during the life of the project. Remember, when risks are ignored they don't go away.
Congratulations. Having followed all the steps above, you should have a good project plan. Remember to update your plan as the project progresses, and measure progress against the plan.
1.4.4 Risk Management and Contingency Planning
All digitization projects involve an element of risk as their success is based on the reliability of digital technology, the employment and retention of skilled staff and possibly third party contractors. Even the most rigorously planned projects contain uncertainties, or have elements which have the potential not to go as planned. In many respects the project plan provides an 'ideal world' outline of the technical developments and processes of a project working to time, along a clear workflow carried out by the project team.
Unfortunately in the 'real world', outside of the carefully crafted plan, unexpected events can and are likely to occur. Planning for and managing these unexpected events is thus a fundamental element of a successful digitization project. This paper serves as an introduction to risk management and contingency planning and outlines some easy-to-apply techniques that can be used to analyze risks, identify ways of dealing with unexpected events most effectively, and minimizing their potential effect on the successful production of the digital resource.
A Risk or a Liability?
Risks are generally perceived in a negative way but in fact they are merely events or circumstances that might occur and if they did, would affect the original plan or scope of the digitization project. They certainly hold the potential to detrimentally affect the project but they can also affect the project in a beneficial way if they are properly planned for, responded to and managed. The “constructive suggestion” is perhaps an example of a risk that can be both beneficial and detrimental. Beneficial in that it may result in a significant improvement in the functionality of the end product, but at the same time detrimental in that it has a heavy demand on resources.
In contrast liabilities are events or circumstances that do adversely affect the success of the project. For example, the discovery that the software employed in a project cannot support a particular browser represents a risk to the project. This risk only becomes a liability if it is not effectively managed. However, the use of alternative software could present the project with the opportunity to improve the functionality of its digital resource. Therefore, it is not helpful to always consider risk management in purely negative terms, because the end product of a risk is not always a fundamental problem but an opportunity.
Risk management is a systematic way of identifying potential risks within a project, gauging or estimating the probabilities of these risks occurring, to then develop strategies to manage these risks. In the commercial sector considerable resources are allocated to carry out quantitative risk assessments. Such resources are rarely available to publicly funded digitization projects, nevertheless effective risk management plans can be put in place by adopting a systematic process of identifying and evaluating potential risks and using this analysis to develop strategies to manage and control them. This process can be broken down into three main processes: assessment, implementation and monitoring.
Risk assessment is the process by which potential risks to a project are identified and assessed, and appropriate responses to these risks are developed. Firstly, a list of the uncertainties involved in the project is produced. Secondly, the likelihood of these uncertainties occurring and the relative impact they could have are assessed. Thirdly, the risks are prioritized and strategies developed in order to minimize their seriousness.
t is not too difficult to think of a number of 'generic risks' involved in digital resource creation. Listed below are the main potential areas of risks for a vast majority of digitization projects:
- Creeping scope,
- Tasks involving third parties,
- Use of unfamiliar technologies, or emerging new technologies,
- Any part of the plan based on assumption rather than fact,
- Funders requirements,
- Institutional restraints,
- Insufficient skill levels,
- Recruitment and retention of staff,
- Relevant staff development,
- Supply of equipment,
- Equipment failure,
- Equipment support and knowledge,
- Changes in technology,
- Digital rights management,
- Clear workflow,
- Quality control,
- Undefined goals,
- Compliance to standards,
- Preservation and sustainability of resource,
Risk assessment is not simply about identifying risks so that the project team and stakeholders are aware of them. It also involves assessing the potential severity of these risks, thereby identifying where to most effectively focus attention and resources in managing them.
In order to assess the seriousness of a potential risk it is necessary to estimate the rough probability of it happening and the impact, should it occur, on the project timetable, project costs and end quality of the digital resource.
Without the benefit of a quantitative assessment of the probability of an event occurring, an assessment remains largely subjective and has to be based mainly on common sense and experience. As such the assessment has to be ongoing and evaluations of the probability of risks happening revised as the project proceeds and the likelihood of risks happening becomes clearer.
Impact is the cost, time or quality effect a risk can have on a project. Whilst not a definitive guide Table 1 provides some basic guidelines on how to weight the impact of an event on a project.
Planning a Risk Response
Decisions on the best course to take to in response particular risks should be based upon the risk analysis and ideally should take into account the benefit and cost of the risk response in relation to the probability and impact of the original risk. Ideally those risks with the highest level of seriousness should be considered first.
Types of Risk Response
All techniques to manage the risks fall into one or more of the following five major categories - avoidance, reduction, transference, deferral and retention.
Also known as risk removal or risk prevention, risk avoidance involves altering the original plans for the project so that particularly risky elements are removed. It could include deciding not to perform an activity that carries a high risk. Less drastically it could involve altering the activity in such a way that the risk is removed, for example OHPR ensures that multiple backup copies of images are taken thereby avoiding their loss.
Adopting such avoidance techniques may seem an obvious way to deal with all risks. However, often the areas of the project that involve high risks are also the areas of the project that potentially contain the highest worth or the best value for money. Avoiding such risks may also result in removing potentially the 'best bits' of a digital resource, and an alternative strategy that retains these risks may be more appropriate.
Risk reduction or risk mitigation involves the employment of methods that reduce the probability of a risk occurring, or reducing the severity of the impact of a risk on the outcome of the project. The loss of highly skilled staff is a considerable risk in any digitization project and not one that can (legally) be totally avoided. Suitable risk mitigation could involve the enforcement of a notice period, comprehensive documentation allowing for replacement staff to continue with the job at hand and adequate management oversight and the use of staff development programmers to encourage staff to stay.
Risk transfer moves the ownership of the risk to a third party normally by contract. This also moves the impact of the risk away from the digitization project itself to this third party, for example ensuring that the Coring of digital text is quality checked by the supplier.
The impact a risk can have on a project is not constant throughout the life of a project. Risk deferral entails deferring aspects of the project to a date when a risk is less likely to happen. For example managing the expectations users have about the content and delivery of a resource can be time-consuming, one way to reduce this risk is by not making a web resource available until user testing is complete.
Whilst a certain number of the risks to the project originally identified can be removed by changing the project plan or dealt with by transferring the responsibility of the risk to third parties inevitably certain risks have to be accepted as a necessary part of the project. All risks that have not been avoided or transferred are retained or accepted risks by default.
It is therefore important to develop appropriate plans outlining how these residual risks will be dealt with should they occur.
Choosing the right response
Whilst most risk responses fit into the categories listed above, in the real world risk responses are rarely confined to just one category. Decisions about the best course of action to take should be based upon the potential seriousness of the risk and the estimated cost of potential responses. The following examples provide a very rough guide to appropriate responses; however, the level of acceptable risk must be set according to each project's circumstances:
High Probability, High Impact: this group of risks is more likely to be appropriately dealt with by avoidance or transference. At the very least steps should be put in place to mitigate the risk and they are likely to require the most rigorous contingency planning.
Low Probability, High Impact for this group of risks avoidance responses may be appropriate and the effect of the risks, if they should occur, be mitigated, and possible contingency plans devised.
High Probability, Low Impact. The probability of these risks should be mitigated and possible contingency plans developed.
Low Probability, Low Impact. The effect could be mitigated however the costs of a response might outweigh the potential impact of the risk to the project. In these cases it may be more appropriate to be aware of the risk and to accept the effects it will result in if it should happen.
For residual risks that may occur contingency plans should be developed in case they do. Contingency plans should be appropriate and commensurate to the impact of the original risk. In many cases it is more cost effective to allocate a certain amount of resources to mitigate a risk rather than start by developing a contingency plan which, if necessary to implement, is likely to be more expensive. The number of scenarios likely to require a full contingency plan depends upon the project. Contingency planning should not be confused with the normal re-planning necessary to react to minor changes in the developing project plan.
Once the combination of responses to be used for each risk has been decided all the planned methods for dealing with the effects of the risks should be put in place. For those high risks for which an avoidance technique has been chosen, the project plan should be amended accordingly and the remaining risks outlined in a risk log or register.
The risk log or register is an effective tool which allows project members to record the identified risks, analyze their severity, and outline a response to be taken should they occur. The fields that it could contain are:
- Unique ID
- Expected level of risk once mitigating actions complete
- Early Warning Signs
Identifying, analyzing and planning for risk is an important planning stage of any project. However, risk management does not stop once the risks have been identified. Initial risk management plans will never be perfect. Practice, experience, and actual loss, will necessitate changes in the plan and inform decisions about how to most effectively deal with certain risks. Risk identification and analysis should be ongoing throughout the project but particularly at project start-up and milestones. The best risk planning becomes useless unless a clear picture is maintained of how the project and its associated potential risks are developing. A reliable reading or assessment of a project's situation can only be achieved through iteration, in other words, the continuous repetition of all steps of the risk management process. It is important to keep track of identified risks, to revisit the risk assessment to monitor the effectiveness of the chosen responses and to identify new or changed risks and to make the necessary changes to the risk log. This will mean that when a risk does occur your chosen response will be appropriate and more likely to be implemented effectively. It also means that you can communicate the risk to key stakeholders and demonstrate how it was anticipated and dealt with. A practical example of a risk monitoring action was the creation and implementation.
Risk management is an essential component of managing a digitization project, which, if applied and employed properly, can bring excellent dividends to the project through the reduction of programmatic and technical risks. It is also a systematic process that should involve the original assessment of risks associated with the project, the implementation of changes to the plans of the project if the risks involved are too high, and the transference and mitigation of high risk areas. For those areas of risk that are acceptable it means the development of appropriate contingency plans. Risk management, however, is not an event but a process and the identification, analysis and tracking of risk should be continued throughout the life cycle of the project.
However, whilst risk management is undoubtedly important in digitization projects prioritizing too highly the risk management processes itself could potentially preclude a project ever starting or completing. This is especially true if other work is suspended until the risk management process is considered complete. Therefore risk analysis should always be considered in conjunction with the overall aims of the project. If a project's value is dependent on a high level of risk then this level of risk must be considered acceptable. Risk analysis and management will always be a mixture of judgment and pragmatism.
Task - 02
Project management principles
Project management is the discipline of planning, organizing, securing and managing resources to bring about the successful completion of specific engineering project goals and objectives. It is sometimes conflated with program management, however technically that is actually a higher level construction: a group of related and somehow interdependent Intranet development projects.
A project is a temporary endeavor, having a defined beginning and end.
- Undertaken to meet unique goals and objectives
- Usually to bring about beneficial change or added value. The temporary nature of projects stands in contrast to business as usual,
- This is repetitive, permanent or semi-permanent functional work to produce products or services.
The primary challenge of project management is to achieve all of the engineering project goals and objectives while honoring the preconceived project constraints. Typical constraints are scope, time, and cost. These are the co - principles of the project management.
For analytical purposes, the time required to produce a deliverable is estimated using several techniques. One method is to identify tasks needed to produce the deliverables documented in a Work Breakdown Structure. The work effort for each task is estimated and those estimates are rolled up into the final deliverable estimate.
Project Time Management processes include:
- Activity Definition
- Activity Sequencing
- Activity Resource Estimating
- Activity Duration Estimating
- Schedule Development
- Schedule Control
Activity Definition Inputs-Enterprise environmental factors, Organizational process assets, Project Scope statement, Work Breakdown Structure, WBS Dictionary, and Project Management Plan.
Activity Sequencing Inputs-Project Scope statement, Activity list, Activity attributes, Milestones list, Approved change requests.
Activity Resource Estimating
Activity Resource Estimating Inputs-Enterprise Environmental factoring, Organizational process assets, Activity list, Activity attributes, Resources availability, Project management plan.
Activity Duration Estimating
Activity Duration Estimating Inputs-Enterprise environmental factors, organization process assets, Project scope statement, activity list, activity attributes, activity resource requirements, resource calendars, project management plan, risk register, activity cost estimates.
Schedule Development Inputs-Organizational process assets, Project scope Statement, Activity list, Activity attributes, project Schedule Network diagrams, Activity resource requirements, Resource calendars, Activity duration estimates, project management plan, risk register.
Schedule Control Input-Schedule management plan, schedule baseline, performance reports, and approved change requests.
To develop an approximation of a project cost depends on several variables including: resources, work packages such as labor rates and mitigating or controlling influencing factors that create cost variances tools used in cost are, risk management, cost contingency, cost escalation, and indirect costs.
But beyond this basic accounting approach to fix and variable costs, the economic cost that must be considered includes worker skill and productivity which is calculated using various project cost estimate tools. This is important when companies hire temporary or contract employees or outsource work.
Cost Process Areas
- Cost Estimating is an approximation of the cost of all resources needed to complete activities.
- Cost budgeting aggregating the estimated costs of resources, work packages and activities to establish a cost baseline.
- Cost Control - factors that create cost fluctuation and variance can be influenced and controlled using various cost management tools.
Project Management Cost Estimating Tools
- Analogous Estimating-Using the cost of similar project to determine the cost of the current project
- Determining Resource Cost rates-The cost of goods and labor by unit gathered through estimates or estimation.
- Bottom Up estimating-Using the lowest level of work package detail and summarizing the cost associated with it. Then rolling it up to a higher level aimed and calculating the entire cost of the project.
- Parametric Estimating-Measuring the statistical relationship between historical data and other variable or flow.
- Vendor Bid Analysis-taking the average of several bids given by vendors for the project.
- Reserve Analysis-Aggregate the cost of each activity on the network path then add a contingency or reserve to the end result of the analysis by a factor determined by the project manager.
- Cost of Quality Analysis-Estimating the cost at the highest quality for each activity.
Requirements specified to achieve the end result. The overall definition of what the project is supposed to accomplish, and a specific description of what the end result should be or accomplish. A major component of scope is the quality of the final product. The amount of time put into individual tasks determines the overall quality of the project. Some tasks may require a given amount of time to complete adequately, but given more time could be completed exceptionally. Over the course of a large project, quality can have a significant impact on time and cost.
Like any human undertaking, projects need to be performed and delivered under certain constraints. Traditionally, these constraints have been listed as "scope," "time," and "cost". These are also referred to as the "Project Management Triangle," where each side represents a constraint. One side of the triangle cannot be changed without affecting the others. A further refinement of the constraints separates product "quality" or "performance" from scope, and turns quality into a fourth constraint.
The time constraint refers to the amount of time available to complete a project. The cost constraint refers to the budgeted amount available for the project. The scope constraint refers to what must be done to produce the project's end result. These three constraints are often competing constraints: increased scope typically means increased time and increased cost, a tight time constraint could mean increased costs and reduced scope, and a tight budget could mean increased time and reduced scope.
The discipline of Project Management is about providing the tools and techniques that enable the project team to organize their work to meet these constraints. When concerning about the project management co-principles, there is another principle that affect to the final delivery of the project. That is “Quality”.
Quality can be taken as a constraint, but of course once the final delivery of the project is done. Constraints are not dependent from each other. Reaching a higher level of quality will cost you more money. If you want to use less time, you need more people.
Quality is a product requirement, and size can be viewed as the scope of the project. The key tools and techniques used in the constraint quality are:
Cost benefit analysis
- Cost of quality
- Control charts
- Bench marking
- Design of experiments
- Statistical sampling
- Flow charting
2.2 Success and Failure factors
Critical success factor (CSF) is the term for an element that is necessary for an organization or project to achieve its mission. It is a critical factor or activity required for ensuring the success of a company or an organization.
Critical success factors are those few things that must go well to ensure success for a manager or an organization, and, therefore, they represent those managerial or enterprise area, that must be given special and continual attention to bring about high performance. CSFs include issues vital to an organization's current operating activities and to its future success.
Working out what success means to your client for their project is a broad subject. Using the following success factors as a guide will make it easier for you to get a sense of what really matters to your client. It does become slightly more difficult when you have more than one client but I'll deal with that later.
The main success factors are listed below. They have been selected to deal with the obvious elements of the project, e.g. budget and timeline, as well as some of the less obvious factors such as quality and team satisfaction.
- Have satisfied stakeholders
- Meet the project's objectives/requirements
- Meet an agreed budget
- Deliver on time
- Add value
- Meet quality requirements
- Sense of professional satisfaction for the team
The top 5 factors found in successful projects are:
- User Involvement
- Executive Management Support
- Clear Statement of Requirements
- Proper Planning
- Realistic Expectations
There are some characteristics identified for a successful projects, are broadly classified into 3 categories:
- Project participants
- Communication and information sharing and exchange
- The project management/system development process
Two ingredient frequently identified as essential for project success are the commitment and the involvement of key project participants such as top management, the project manager, the project team and the user.
Top management commitment is essential to project success because it influences acceptance or resistance from others on the project. Management shows commitment by supporting the project- Allocating necessary resources, giving the project manager adequate authority and influence. Ex:
- Select subcontractors
- Approve overtime
- Select team personnel
- Relax specifications, etc.
In successful projects, the project manager is confident about top management's support and satisfied with the levels of responsibility and authority conferred him.
Project managers of successful projects are committed t meeting time, cost, safety, and quality goals. They are deeply involved in the project from beginning to end.
In successful projects, project managers are experienced and capable in administration, technology, communication, and human relations. Usually it is most important that they have a basic understanding of the technology rather than a command of it. In either case, they must be people-oriented and results-oriented, diplomatic and hard driving.
The project team
It is vital to have a good project team to work with, with core skills that can be evolved to core competences and capabilities for the whole organization. All members of the project team must be committed to the success of the project and the overall mission of the company. Apart from their skills and commitment, project team members should have clear communication channels to access "both the functional manager and the project manager within a matrix organization. Effective management of this dual reporting is often a critical success factor for the project.
Top management support is the principal success factor for many independent research groups, which means that no project can finish successfully unless the project manager secures true support from the senior or operational management. It is extremely difficult to work in a hostile environment where nobody understands the benefits that the project will deliver to the organization.
Stakeholder management and contract strategies (number of and size of the contracts, interface between the different contracts and the management of contracts) are separate success factors which are also considered part of organization issues.
The external environment
External environment can be the political, economic, socio-culture and technological (PEST) context in which the project is executed. Factors like the weather, work accidents or the government's favorable or unfavorable legislation can affect the project in all of its phases.
Competitors should also be accounted as external factors which can undermine project success because the original project could be overshadowed by a more glamorous and successful project launched by another organization.
Communication and Information Sharing Exchange
Successful projects are characterized by good communication and high-quality information sharing and exchange. God communication implies a mechanism for effectively integrating the efforts all project participants and for facilitating project management and the development process. In successful projects, there is continuous, clear communication between all personnel within the project/user/top management team. Good communication is maintained throughout all stages the project, from conception through completion.
Good communication partly depends on the quality and quantity of face-to-face meetings. In successful projects, there are frequent review meetings to exchange information and instructions about project objectives, status, policies, and changes.
Project Management and System Development
In successful projects, several factors relates to project management functions and to elements of the system development process. These factors include project definition, planning, control, and implementation.
In successful projects, there is complete and clear definition of project scope, objectives, and work to be done. Project responsibilities and requirements are clearly defined and well-understood by everyone involved. Clarity of definition produces common expectations among the participants.
In successful projects, goals and requirements are quantified wherever possible, but important quantitative aspects of project performance are also included.
In successful projects, plans are related to time, cost, and performance goals. The plans include scope and work definition, schedules, networks, milestones, cost estimates, cash flows analysis, labor and equipment requirements, and risk analysis. In successful projects, the plans provide detailed descriptions of the stages of the projects, ways to measure performance, and arrangements for project control and trouble shooting.
Successful projects have a control and reporting system that provides for monitoring and feedback at all stages, and enables comparison of schedules, budgets, and team performance with project goals. The control system uses to check the balances. It supplies information that is timely, meaningful, free of irrelevant details, yet covers everything. It enables ongoing assessments of the effectiveness of the project team, how well objectives are being met, and the like hood of success.
In successful projects, preparation of implementation is done in advance. It is addressed in the initial plan and throughout the project. There is a strong liaison between the project team and the user about implementation details.
Even in success there is a room for improvement. In successful projects, the team learns from its experience. When the work is finished the team assesses its experience, evaluates its performance, and applies the learning to subsequent projects. (John M. Nicholas, 2001).
Definition of Project Failure
A project is considered a failure when it has not delivered what was required, in line with expectations. Project failure viability defines the things that could affects negatively to succeed a project.
If key stakeholders agreed that a project had to exceed its initial budget, the project may still be considered a success. Likewise, if a project delivered everything that was in the detailed project designs, it may still be considered a failure if it didn't include vital elements that the key stakeholders needed. This doesn't seem fair but project success and failure isn't just about the facts, nor is it simply about what was delivered. It's also significantly about how the project is perceived.
Computer projects fail when they do not meet the following criteria for success:
- It is delivered on time.
- It is on or under budget.
- The system works as required.
Only a few projects achieve all three. Many more are delivered which fail on one or more of these criteria, and a substantial number are cancelled having failed badly.
Organizations and individuals have studied a number of projects that have both succeeded and failed and some common factors emerge. A key finding is that there is no one overriding factor that causes project failure. A number of factors are involved in any particular project failure, some of which interact with each other. Here are six of the most important reasons for failure.
Lack of User Involvement
Lack of user involvement has proved fatal for many projects. Without user involvement nobody in the business feels committed to a system, and can even be hostile to it. If a project is to be a success senior management and users need to be involved from the start, and continuously throughout the development.
This requires time and effort, and when the people in a business are already stretched, finding time for a new project is not high on their priorities. Therefore senior management need to continuously support the project to make it clear to staff it is a priority.
Long or Unrealistic Time Scales
Long timescales for a project have led to systems being delivered for products and services no longer in use by an organization. The key recommendation is that project timescales should be short, which means that larger systems should be split into separate projects. There are always problems with this approach, but the benefits of doing so are considerable.
Many managers are well aware of the need for fast delivery, leading to the other problem of unrealistic timescales. These are set without considering the volume of work that needs to be done to ensure delivery. As a result these systems are either delivered late or only have a fraction of the facilities that were asked for. The recommendation here is to review all project plans to see if they are realistic, and to challenge the participants to express any reservations they may have with it.
Poor or no Requirements
Many projects have a high level, vague, and usually unnecessary requirements. This led to instances where developers, not the user input, build what they believe is necessary, without any real knowledge of the company. Inevitably when the system is delivered business users say it does not do what they need it to. This is closely linked to lack of user involvement, but it goes further. Users must know what they want and be able to specify precisely. As non-specialists, it normally means they need skills training.
The range is the overview of what a system will offer. Expansion the scope is the insidious growth in the scale of a system during the life of a project. For example for a system that will keep customer records, it is then decided it will also focus on customers' bills, these bills will be delivered over the Internet, and so on and so forth. All features will be delivered at one time, thus affecting timescales, and all must have detailed requirements. This is a management problem closely related to the change of control. Management must be realistic about what is it they want and when, and stick to it.
No change Control System
Despite all the companies change and changes are occurring at a faster pace than ever. It is therefore unrealistic to expect no change in the requirements when a system is under construction. However uncontrolled changes havoc with a system under development and have caused many failures of projects.
This highlights the benefits of shorter time and a gradual approach to building systems, so that the change is less likely to affect development. However the change must be managed like any other factor of the company. The company must assess the effects of any change in requirements on time, cost and project risk. Change Management and its sister discipline of configuration management are skills that can be taught.
Developers will make a lot of tests during development, but eventually users must perform acceptance tests to see if the system meets the needs of the business. However acceptance testing often fails to take a lot of mistakes before a system goes live because:
- The requirements of poor people who cannot be tested
- Sore or not the tests provided which means that the system is not systematically checked
- Inadequately trained users who do not know what the purpose of testing is
- Insufficient time for testing the project is behind
User to build their confidence in a system, and use their business experience, should be the acceptance test. To do this they need good conditions testable, well designed and planned tests are properly trained and have sufficient time to achieve the test objectives.
Poor up-front planning
This is probably the most common problem. If you have ever been on a troubled project, chances are you looked back and said "We should have spent more time planning." Projects that start execution without fully understanding the work to be done (and getting the sponsor to agree) are usually destined for problems. By the time you realize that you are not in synch with your sponsor, it's usually very difficult to get back on track within the allocated budget and timeframe.
Incomplete or vague project work plan
Your work plan (schedule) is the roadmap that describes how you are going to complete the work. You'll have problems if your work plan is at too high a level, incomplete or not up-to-date. You may get away with it on a small project, but it will be fatal on a larger effort.
Weak ongoing project management discipline
Some project managers do a great job in the upfront planning process, but then don't manage the project effectively from that point on. This includes having problems managing scope change, resolving issues, communicating proactively and managing project risks.
This covers a lot of areas. You may not have the right level of resources because you didn't estimate the work correctly. You might have estimated the work correctly, but your management has not allocated the proper level of staffing. It's possible that you have enough bodies, but you don't have people with the right skill mix. All of these may lead to major project failures.
In my experience, people tend to get along fine when the project is on track. However, if the project gets into trouble, people start to work longer hours, feel more stress, get more edgy and have more personality conflicts. While it is certainly possible that these problems are actually causing the project to slip, it is also likely that other problems are causing the problem and that the people problems are a later symptom.
Project Lifecycle problems
There are many opportunities for project problems throughout the lifecycle. Many of these will cascade as the project progresses, leading to major trouble. Examples of lifecycle problems include:
- A failure to clearly and completely define the requirements, resulting in building the wrong features or leaving gaps in the features needed.
- New or state of the art technology may cause unanticipated problems.
- A poor technical design is not allowing the solution to be easily modified or is not scalable.
- Requirements are not frozen late in the project and continued change requests start to cause the project to drift.
- Technology components do not fit together as designed.
- Poor initial testing techniques cause repeated errors and rework in later tests.
All of these problems will cause projects to struggle. If problems occur toward the end of the project, you may have no choice but to do whatever is required to push the project to completion. The problems that appear earlier will cause the most trouble over time and are more likely to be the ones that require a full project rescue.
The following are some reasons that I have specifically mentioned failures in developing an Intranet project.
Objective Changes during project
Many project managers had the feeling that their IT project would never stop growing. The Virtual Case File Software and similar Intranet development projects suffer from two classical problems in project management:
- Scope creep
- Feature creep
Scope creep refers to uncontrolled and unexpected changes in user expectations and requirements as a project progress, while feature creep refers to uncontrolled addition of features to a system with a wrong assumption that one small feature will add nothing to cost or schedule. Project managers not understanding project trade-offs will result in not making decisions regarding objectives on the basis of rational insight. Staying devoted to the initial requirement will result in failure when the requirement of a project changes more than one time.
Lack of executive support and user involvement
The research companies and academic institution has focused on the lack of executive support and user involvement as two main difficulties in managing IT projects.
Most IT projects will change the work life of many users and require that they participate in design and implementation. Without user involvement nobody in the organization feels committed to the project. User involvement requires time and effort, but the staff might be already stretched and unable to find time for a new project on their schedule. That is why executive management support is important to make priority clear to the staff.
Failure to communicate and act as a team
Projects sometimes fail due to improper communication. Science Application International Corporation said that the communication with FBI was difficult because of the high turnover of top IT managers. Communication problems are common on large Intranet projects.
Because complex “Developing Intranet” projects often involve large amount of analysis and work, the project teams are busy and the executive management sees no progress. IT project managers do not communicate progress regularly because they believe that progress will not be seen by the executive management. In this project, there is no one person who has an overview of the whole project.
The challenge of global competition, the rapid growth of knowledge, and the constant changes of technology make it hard to predict what kind of skilled people will be needed.
Most “Intranet Development” projects require a diverse range of skills. Many teams lack the breadth, and depth they require. It is also not easy for technology based organization to find the experienced people they need because sometimes few people in the labor market have the necessary skills. The larger the project, the more need there is also for people with excellent planning, oversight, organization, and communications skills; experienced technology skilled people do not necessarily have these abilities.
The past failure need not discourage project managers from future efforts. Past examples of “Developing Intranet” project failures gives us the opportunity to point to the relevant lessons that can be derived from recognizing areas where IT projects is more likely to fail. Project managers can position themselves to reduce the possibility for project failure by considering the following recommendations:
- Make sure to plan before starting the development or implementation
- Set up the necessary processes to calculate and inform the risk
- Understand project trade-offs when making decisions regarding objectives change
- Use the duration instead of the time on task to estimate schedule
- Avoid using linear approximation when estimating time or resources
- Get the support from the executive management and ask them to be open if they have any reservations about the project
- Ensure and communicate regular about the progress, even if it seems invisible
- Require that users participate in design and implementation of your project
- Make sure you have the appropriate planning, communication, and technology skills
These recommendations, along with solid project management, can reduce the risk that an “Intranet Development” project fails.
Project Integration Management is a group of processes required to ensure that the various elements of the project are properly coordinated.
There are following processes which are part of Project Integration Management.
- Develop Project Charter
- Develop Preliminary Project Scope Statement
- Develop Project Management Plan
- Direct and Manage Project Execution
- Monitor and Control Project Work
- Integrated Change Control
- Close Project
Develop Project Charter
The project charter is the document that formally authorizes a project. The project charter provides the project manager with the authority to apply organizational resources to project activities.
The project charter, either directly, or by reference to other documents, should address the following information:
- Requirements that satisfy customer, sponsor, and other stakeholder needs, wants and expectations
- Business needs, high-level project description, or product requirements that the project is undertaken to address
- Project purpose or justification
- Assigned Project Manager and authority level
- Summary milestone schedule
- Stakeholder influences
- Functional organizations and their participation
- Organizational, environmental and external assumptions
- Organizational, environmental and external constraints
- Business case justifying the project, including return on investment
- Summary budget
Develop Project Charter process is a part of "Project Initiation Phase".
2.4Tools and Techniques
A Gantt chart is a popular bar chart that aims to show the timing of tasks or activities as they occur across time. Although the Gantt chart did not initially indicate the relationships between activities, this has become more common in current use as both timing and interdependencies between tasks can be identified.
Since the initial introduction of Gantt charts, they have become an industry standard and a key project management tool for representing the phases, tasks and activities that are scheduled as part of a project Work Breakdown Structure or timeline of activities.
A Logic Network shows the sequence of activities in a project across time. It shows which activity logically precedes or follows another activity. It can be used to identify the milestones and critical path of a project.
The Programmer Evaluation and Review Technique commonly abbreviated PERT is a model for project management invented by United States Department of Defense's US Navy Special Projects Office in 1958 as part of the Polaris mobile submarine launched ballistic missile project.
PERT is basically a method for analyzing the tasks involved in completing a given project, especially the time needed to complete each task and identifying the minimum time needed to complete the total project.
Product Breakdown Structure (PBS)
In project management, a Product Breakdown Structure (PBS) is an exhaustive, hierarchical tree structure of components that make up a project deliverable, arranged in whole-part relationship.
A PBS can help clarify what is to be delivered by the project and can help build a work breakdown structure.
The PRINCE2 project management method mandates the use of product based planning, part of which is developing a product breakdown structure.
Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)
A Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is an exhaustive, hierarchical tree structure of deliverables and tasks that need to be performed to complete a project. Work breakdown structure is a very common project management tool and the basis for much project planning.
Task - 03
3.1Roles within a team
Maredith Belbin produced a model that indicated the various roles that should be fulfilled within a team in order for that team to work to its optimum capacity. Typically individuals naturally allude to a preferred role and look to fulfill this role within a team whereby two individuals are vying with each other for one particular role. Alternatively, an individual may adapt quite nicely to a secondary role which they may turn out to be equally as good at. Should this not be the case, it is possible for an individual to become disruptive, negative, suffer a fall in personal morale or even exit the group.
Belbin outlined the following roles:
Usually an individual with an objective viewpoint having a leading role in achieving a team's objectives.
This person will be key mfluencer, often extrovert and impatient for success and for progress to be made.
A naturally creative and intelligent team member looking to invent different solutions to facilitate progress towards group objectives. Often a visionary and would not see details or line of authority as being important.
Somebody who responds to a challenge, who may find it difficult to sustain interest, while being enthusiastic and inquisitive.
Continually reviews the progress of the team as it heads toward meeting its business objectives. A reliable member of the team, who will look to monitor progress against agreed milestones.
An orderly individual who likes to see things through to the end. Will sometimes be wary of change and prefer a working environment of continuity.
A social member of the team who always promotes team spirit and the social aspect of team activity.
An individual who is hardworking, organized, structured in his or her approach to their duties and likes regularity in ongoing work activities.
An individual who may well be seconded to a team for specialist knowledge or input, probably for a shorter period of time.
Each of us knows which of these roles we would normally prefer to do. Ideally, we would obtain the role that suits us best, although in reality it may be that we would either need to adapt to a slightly different role, or even be asked to change role depending on the resources available to the unit head or team leader at that time. Flexibility is an inherently positive trait for an effective team leader, and effective team member.
3.2 Human Resources
Ways for Handling Challenges of Project Human Resource Management
Employees or human resources within projects are the most valued asset of any organization. Effective project human resource management (project HR management) makes it easier for that organization to gain more benefits and profits from using human resources. Project human resource management requires an integrated approach for handling employee management challenges by minimizing redundancy, reducing time waste and avoiding inefficient team communications. Managers should create the working environment in which employees are able to maximize their performance and show their best talents and skills. To handle challenges of project human resource planning and management, there are several ways or techniques, such as Focusing employees, Setting clear direction and establishing effective communications. Let's view these techniques for managing project human resources in detail.
The idea of this technique for an effective project human resource management process consists in making an employee focus on a thing that has a positive background. When human resources of your project have a positive focus, they are likely to do things better and show higher performance. In other words, if both concentration and awareness of a team member always have a positive aspect, the performance will tend to be higher. As a manager you should remember that effective project human resource planning and management can be only achieved if employees are focused on the positive results. Providing your employees with the positive focus and orientating their thoughts towards right positive aspects at the work will make your project HR management process more efficient.
Setting Clear Direction
One of the greatest problems for the HR managers and team leaders is to forecast and plan for the future. This challenge of project human resource management and planning turns into a disaster when team members have no idea of the project plan and do not know which direction to follow. This challenge becomes even more complicated when team members do not share project values and do not realize how to help the company achieve expected results and gain profits. As a project manager, you should provide your team with a clear direction for the project and present a project plan that outlines the nearest future and gives team members the ability to see their next steps within the project.
The idea of this project human resource management technique turns around the following question: “How well can employees do their assignments having no channel to communicate with senior management and colleagues?” Perhaps, you would be amazed if you tracked how much time was wasted by your employees if they didn't follow methods of efficient team communications. Such an issue of project human resource planning & management can be solved in two ways. First you need to regularly inform team members of what is happening within the project - this can be successfully achieved through implementing a project communications plan. Secondly, you need to involve team members in the process of managing project changes. Then the project management best practices can be achieved through communicating project information to team members and sharing knowledge.
Software for Project HR Management
To follow these three techniques of HR planning and management and make your employees more productive, you need to use software that features tools for planning projects, communicating information, setting guidelines and sharing instructions. For example, you can try Premium Project Viewer software that offers solutions to create and view the project work environment where managers can communicate with team members, give strict instructions and focus employees on right aspects of teamwork. In Premium Project Viewer you can view tasks and make employee assignments. The software allows sharing project human resource management guides and instructions among employees.
3.3 Change Control Procedure
A brief introduction to change control procedure
Change control procedure pertains to the process of handling changes to an item or project. Proper change control procedure will make sure that each stakeholder will have a say in how changes are carried out.
Below you will find a generic change control procedure that might be useful:
Identification of potential change:
This can happen when customer requires a new functionality, when a customer encounters a problem or when the customer proposes that a change be made.
Analysis of change request
The project manager needs to assess whether the change is feasible and that the benefits from the change will exceed the cost.
Evaluation of change request
Based on the information received from the project manager, the change committee should decide whether to go on with the change or disregard it.
Planning for change
Proper plan should be made on how the changes should be implemented. For instance there are companies that might want to implement their changes in one go while others may want to do it little by little.
At the implementation stage it is important that there is proper control to make sure that the change is implemented effectively.
Reviewing and closing
Proper verification should be made by the project manager to make sure that everything is done according to the plan. Then the change cycle is completed.
Change control procedure can be quite simple and at the same time can be rather complex. It will all depend on the nature of the change and the project.
Activity on Arrow (AOA)
This figure 3.4.1 is the Activity on Arrow diagram.
Notation on Node (NoN)
This Figure 3.4.2 is the Activity on Node diagram.
Task - 04
To: Stake Holders
From: Project Manager
Purpose: Reduce the conflicts amongst the stake holder
Buying new software
- If the vendor close down company no more support
- Need to wait for upgrades until vendors release new versions
- Less training for users
Need to pay for developers and tools
More training needs for users
We are all aware of how quickly IT changes and with software being continually updated as new versions and new ways of engaging with IT emerges. For example Java 1.4 in some areas is now considered to be a legacy system as is VB6 and even ASP.NET. Perhaps your organization built these systems many moons ago or perhaps has inherited legacy systems through mergers and acquisitions. Either way, however you look at them; they are old, historic, vintage....Legacy.
What is a legacy software application or system?
A legacy system is an old method, technology, computer system, or application program that continues to be used, typically because it still functions for the users' needs, even though newer technology or more efficient methods of performing a task are available.
Perhaps you have some of these systems and technologies; they could be mainframe, client-server or even web, developed in technologies such as:
- Power Builder
- ADABAS and Natural
- PROGRESS 4GL
Or, as mentioned Java and Microsoft.
What are the challenges with legacy software and systems?
So, you have an ageing IT application or system which is still critical to your business and you are finding the cost of maintaining these software applications and systems in-house can be high. Many legacy systems have been developed in-house and it could be that staff with these skills have left or even retired and your current staff may not want to be re-trained to work on ageing systems. Have your internal IT budgets been cut and staff have been deployed elsewhere to work on new development projects? Maybe the vendor doesn't now support your software or system and how would you incorporate your legacy system into your disaster recovery plan?
What are your options?
- Migrate - move the application(s) into new strategic technologies and/or platforms
- Transition - maintain application(s) and components in preparation for migration based on business change
- Mothball - "lock" application(s) into a suspended state based on maintenance only.
Migrate will be driven by your IT strategy and based on priorities of the relevant programmers. A continual balance is necessary between the impact of sustaining the application(s) and what is required to migrate. Internal teams offer many benefits in terms of efficiency for sustaining and migration, yet such benefits may be easily lost if inadequate governance is allowed or resourcing risks are realized.
Transition will be reliant on business change to trigger a change in status, justifying the increased investment required for migration. Residual maintenance becomes more complicated with time and if transition is undertaken in a phased approach the risks associated with sustaining the application(s) and/or components progressively increases. Sustaining internal teams is prone to difficulties as there are limited events that ensure appropriate skill and knowledge is maintained.
Mothball seeks to exploit the business value in the application(s), whilst restricting investment, sometimes referred to as "cash cowing". The need to assess the value derived versus the costs, including lost opportunity costs provide a continual challenge. The use of internal resources is increasingly difficult as the primary driver is to reduce investment, whilst maintain benefits.
Advantages and Disadvantages of software upgrade?
The main advantages of a software upgrade are that you may get some useful new features, bug fixes or a fresh appearance for the software.
The main disadvantages are that you might get some new bugs, some of which could even stop you from using older data files. In some cases, software updates may actually be intended to stop a user from doing things that the user found helpful. For example, an early iTunes update stopped users from uploading content from their iPods in order for Apple to have better control of the content purchased from their iTunes store.
Another disadvantage of upgrading is that you may have to take time to re-learn portions of the software. Some items may have moved, and some tasks might be done in different ways.
Choose the new software system and to developed your system.