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I have been appointed as a project manager of MPAG (Mostper Park Automobile Group Ltd) which is a fast growing campany formed by the merger of a number of garages who sell used cars.
As the newly formed MPAG, the garages then became dealers for the Average Autos Car manufacturer. Subsequetly, as the business of each garage has expanded to cover the sale of new vehicles, the parts and servicing side of the business has also developed. The primary business of each garage is currently considered to be in car sales; each garage deals in both new and used cars. The used cars held at a particular garage come from a variety of sources; some from customer trade-ins at that garage, some from exchanges with other MPAG garages. Each garage aims to keep a limited number of second-hand cars in stock, depending on current trends within the group as well as local sales patterns. Cars are frequently moved between the five MPAG garages in the Mostper Park Automobile Group to avoid any car remaining on a forecourt for any great period.
In addition to used cars, each garage keeps a limited supply of new cars. These are available for customers to test drive or purchase. A record is maintained of all new cars on stock within the MPAG. If a customer requires a particular car and the local garage does not have the desired model or specification, the sales staff can check if another garage in the MPAG has one in stock. If one can be located then a transfer/exchange between garage is aranged by the manager. If not, in the case of a purchase requirement, they can place an order with the Average Autos manufacturer. Although members of the sales staff can take bookings for test drives, the final authorisation rests with the manager of the garage.
Each garage has a number of other departments; parts, servicing and administration. The primary purpose of the parts department is in supplying the service department and supporting car sales if any optional extras are required which are not factory fitted. The parts department can also trade with customers directly. The service department at each garage has a variety of functions such as basic car servicing and valet service. A number handle MOTs. The small admin department takes care of staff administration functions. The admin department may also handle booking in cars for the service department and switchboard activities.
The company decided to develop an online service and appointed a project manager to control the project. So my first tasks as a project manager would be;
- choose appropriate agile method in order to develop the solution and manage the project,
- guide the systems analyst to produce analysis and design documents which help to visualise the project well before the development, and
- Guide the developer to produce the software which meet all the user requirement.
Comparing with last couple of decades, today's Information Technology (IT) manager is under ever-increasing pressure to deliver results - in the form of applications that drive improvements to the bottom line - even while IT budgets are being significantly slashed. Meanwhile, despite the fall of the Internet economy business environments continue to change at a rapid pace leaving many IT shops struggling to keep up with the pace of change. These changes have led to an increased interest in agile software development methodologies with their promise of rapid delivery and flexibility while maintaining quality.
Agile methodologies such as extreme Programming (XP), SCRUM and Feature-Driven Development strive to reduce the cost of change throughout the software development process.
So after the discussion of requirement gathering, the methodology will be decided to the above mentioned case study scenario.
2. List of Requirements
This is the list of requirements for MPAG written below. The first sets of requirements can be considered as the main/ general requirements for every user without specifying their need.
1. The users should be able to create an account using Sign Up process.
2. Once a customer opens an account, he should be able to login using his user name and password.
3. The customer should be able to see online where the nearest garage is (The geographical location).
4. Then the user requirements are going to be categorized according to their major requirement of the time.
After the main requirements, I have categorized the user requirements according to their wants and needs stated below.
1. Once signed in, the customers should be able to do a booking for their car service.
2. When the car(s) are garaged, the car owner should be able to see the progress online.
3. The customer should be able to store private data, such as VIN or license info, for easy access online.
4. The customer should be able to retrieve the history like the last time a repair was performed, with searchable repair forms.
5. The online profile should allow them to display their vehicle in virtual showroom.
1. Once signed in the customers can search for used/new cars using advanced search options like manufacture, made, color, etc for the purpose of purchase before they visit the garage.
2. Once signed in the customers can search for used/new cars using advanced search options like manufacture, made, color, etc for the purpose of test drive before they visit the garage.
3. If the customer's choice of car is not available in the nearest garage for purchasing or test drive, they should be able to send a request to the garage to get the specific car as soon as possible.
4. If the garage received the customer requested car from another branch, the customer should be acknowledged by sending an email.
1. Customers should be able to search for a specific car part online in general (In the entire garage network)
2. Customers should be able to see a list of garages where a specific car part is available for purchasing.
3. They should be able to order it online, if they wish, as an online transaction so the goods will be delivered to him.
1. Administration Department should be able to communicate with all the branch administrations as a network.
2. Handle booking in cars for the service department and switchboard activities.
3. The customers should be able to reach the main administration department for inquiry and customer service purpose.
3. Justification Report on Development
Customer service is the best customer retention investment organizations can make. Customers expect immediate response and -- if dissatisfied -- can disappear.
Therefore I am concluding my decision about the development stage of MPAG as I go in below written explanations considering those key facts.
Investment in Business
Outsourcing is the most effective way to ensure your customers are getting the response they require without a huge capital investment. The right partner adds value to your customer service program. Managing customer services takes special skills training, administration, systems, sales, creative work, legal assistance, and response and tracking technology. A service bureau, with its large volume of work and varied client base, can attract and retain the top specialists in the field.
The outsourcing approach to customer service solutions is a powerful business model because it allows our clients to focus on their core competencies while allowing EMS to focus on ours -- customer service. You can concentrate on your business while we maintain and enhance your client base through the management of all types of electronic communications -- without the expense incurred by in-house, customer care programs.
It's hard to build as you go. The flexibility of a modular and scalable environment allows seamless support of your programs and grows with your needs. A service bureau already has the infrastructure and management team in place, so companies can buy the capabilities they need right now, without paying for what might be needed down the road.
TECHNOLOGY & PRODUCTIVITY MANAGEMENT
Many companies look to outsourcing because it's just too expensive to keep up on today's technology treadmill. As a result, powerful new products and services are made available to our clients' way before such solutions would be possible under an internal development environment.
Outsourcing solutions are ready to be deployed very quickly, providing our clients with a clear advantage in time to market. Outsourcing allows clients to manage the growth of their business and improve customer contact, while we respond to, route and track customer electronic communications.
4. Justification Report on chosen Methodology
After doing few research studies, I am coming to the conclusion of using SCRUM as the methodology. The main reasons for my choice of SCRUM can be stated as:
- Scrum delivers value to the business
- Scrum helps form high performing teams
- Scrum helps motivate and focus team members
So giving an explanation note to each one of those above motioned facts I would like to start with the most important fact for the project manager: delivering values to the business.
Scrum delivers value to the business through:
- Every iteration the product is ready to ship.
- Adapt to changing requirements: Short iterations mean that the Product Owner provides frequent feedback. As result there are frequent small course corrections as opposed to massive changes late in the project.
- Visibility of progress: delivering a working product at the end of every iteration means that the customer, executive sponsors and other interested parties can see the product take shape. They are not surprised six weeks before release.
- Accurate tracking of how much work is left before release: the combination of the product backlog and the team's velocity means that you tell how much the team will get done by the release date.
- Lightweight requirements: Since the team is in frequent (preferably daily contact) with the Product Owner, she spends less time writing detailed requirements. Instead she is able focus on making decisions and answering questions from developers.
- Process improvement mechanism to meet business needs: As business needs change - SOX, FDA compliance, through the retrospective the Scrum process can be improved and adapted to meet goals and needs in changing environments.
Apart from SCRUM, XP was also a considerable option for this project until I came across that XP is geared toward a single project, developed and maintained by a single team and it is particularly vulnerable to developers who are actually not very good at team working. Because in this project where I am going to be the project manager for MPAG, I would really appreciate the team spirit and gathering around for one motivation.
And especially XP will not work in an environment where a customer or manager insists on a complete specification or design before they begin programming and it will not work in an environment where programmers are separated geographically as well which I think is one of the crucial reasons for this project where we definitely have to deal with different geographical locations of garages.
And XP has not been proven to work with systems that have scalability issues (new applications must integrate into existing systems) which I think will be a drawback for the future development.
So in conclusion, scrum provides a way for the business to maximize its ROI by using iterative development to rapidly create working software. It ensures that the team is always working to deliver the highest priority features which concludes any decision of using SCRUM for this project.
Concluding this justification report, so far I have gathered the requirements of MPAG, categorizing them to appropriate departments. Then I have finalized the methodology that I am going to apply for this project and how the development should be carried on.
In this stage activities like last debugging, marketing and promotion haven't taken place yet as this is the very initial stage I am reporting for. By finishing this activity the project will not be closed. But because of the unpredictability of the software development process it's not possible to define exactly when this activity will take place and so the project may take shorter or longer than planned. But by using the controls given by Scrum, the project is now of course in the right route.