5 whys technique is important to detect the root cause of a problem. In the context of quality, 5 whys method is use to improve the quality of the product and determine the root cause of quality problems. This is really important because if we don’t know clearly about the root cause of a problem, it is really difficult to find the solutions. We can also define the relationship between different root causes of a problem by using 5 whys technique. 5 whys technique is so simple and easy to use. Why is it happening? For example, why users are not willing to use the system, why users do not change their password and so on. 5 whys technique is an effective approach to solve the problem. 5 whys technique was developed by Sakichi Toyoda.
Brainstorming technique is intended to produce the many new ideas to find solution of a problem. Brainstorming is one of important technique in project quality management area because this technique can be used to enhance the quality of the product by discussing about existing problems. There are four basic important rules in brainstorming. They are focus on quality, withhold criticism, welcome unusual idea and combine and improve idea. Brainstorming method was proposed by Alex Faickney Osborn in his book. In IT project, system analyst is responsible to plan a brainstorming session. The important factors of brainstorming session are as follow.
Which persons to involve and from which functional business areas?
How many people to involve in the session?
Terms of reference for the session
(c) Quality Circle
Quality Circle is an important technique to identify, investigate and find the solution of problems by grouping the workers from single company department. In group, there may be leaders and nonsupervisors. The purpose of quality circle technique in IT project is to control the quality problems and to improve the quality of product. Quality Circle technique was developed by Kaoru Ishikawa. This technique is also used to motivate the staffs, in order to improve the company’s performance. This technique play important role in project quality management.
(d) Pareto Analysis
Pareto Analysis can be useful for decision making of high level managements. Pareto Analysis is also very important in quality control. Project manager can use the Pareto analysis to control the quality of product. Pareto analysis is sometimes referred to as the 80-20 rule. For example, 80 % of quality problems are produced by 20% of key causes. If project managers can analyse this technique, the quality of project will be improved.
(a) Learning Curve Theory
Learning curve theory is important in project cost management area. This mentions that when many items are produced frequently, the unit cost of those items decreases in a regular pattern as more units are produced. For example, a unit cost of one item form the production of 10 items is more expensive than a unit cost of one item from the production of 1000 items because the experience of resources were increased when produce 1000 items. This is also related with the 80/20 rule. Learning curve theory also applies to the amount of time it takes to complete some tasks. For example, when the developer start to do a project, that is not a familiar project and developer do not have experience about this project. Then this project may take a lot of time. Next time the developer does that project again to another client; this project does not take too much time because the developer has experience about that project. Project manager can estimate the performance of staffs and allocate the suitable jobs by using learning curve theory.
(b) Sunk costs
Sunk costs are money that have already been spent in past and cannot be returned. For example, you bought a laptop for 1,000 dollar, when you resold it you can get the original price. This is important for high level managements to know how much money is already spent for a project. Sometime sunk costs compared with prospective costs which are money for future that may be altered if an action is occurred. Sunk Costs is also important in the investment for the information system of an organisation. Most of senior management misunderstand about the sunk costs and they don’t want to stop spending money on it. However, sunk costs should be forgotten.
(c) Total Cost of Ownership
Total cost of ownership play important role in the project cost estimating. The main purpose of total cost of ownership is to help clients and managers determine tangible and intangible costs of a product or system. Project managers can used total cost of ownership to evaluate the total cost of project development, operation and maintenance including direct costs and indirect costs. Gartner Group popularized the total cost of ownership. Microsoft Corporation also used the total cost of ownership to prove that Windows had lower total cost of ownership than Linux.
(d) Contingency Reserves
The important of contingency reserves is project manager can spend the money for the future risks in case for known unknown events, not certain events. Contingency Reserve is also important in project cost estimating. Project manager should plan about contingency reserve for the future anticipated risks. If a predicted risk occurs in a project development, the contingency reserve can handle that situation, for example, illness of developers in cold season. This is also an important way of reducing the cost for risks.
Email play important role in the project communication area. Nowadays, most of businesses are widely using email as a first communication medium. Email is also very useful in the software development area, especially in the web-based project management applications. Stakeholders also can communicate using email. Some of project managers are controlling the project stakeholders’ form various countries by using email, for example, developers at India, and designers at Australia. It is a little bit dangerous for inexperienced project managers. However, everything can be done by using email in project development.
Agendas are list of sequence of project team meeting activities. Project team meeting is very important in project development, especially in agile development methods. Project managers are responsible for control the project team meeting and agendas. Agendas also play important role in project team meeting. The main important of an agenda is about the topics. The topics list of agenda will guide the discussion of meeting and the team can prepare meeting very well. Without having a good agenda, the team meeting cannot achieve their objectives. Facilitated workshop/ JAD workshop is a key technique in DSDM. The agenda of a workshop play major role in this situation because without having a good agenda, the developer, users and key stakeholders can misunderstand about the goals of a workshop.
Minutes are the notes taken at a meeting recording about the discussion of meeting. Minutes play important role in project communication area, especially in project team meeting of a project development. Project managers can review about the meeting by observing the minutes, for example, objectives, discussions, decisions and outputs. By reviewing the meeting, the project managers can inform to the senior management about the project. Moreover, the junior managers can be lesson learn about the projects from minutes. In DSDM workshop, scribes have the responsibility to record the minutes. The main purpose of the minutes in DSDM is to be more effective workshops in future; it is useful to keep records of how well the workshop worked.
Intranet is a powerful tool for the communication of an organisation. It is also an effective way of communication in IT project management. By using intranet, the information of project can share securely to the project team. The project stakeholders also can discuss about the project by using intranet. The project manager can generate new ideas in management by using intranet. The project team can increase productivity and the quality of product can improve. Moreover, project manager can also control the project team by using intranet. The intranet is more suitable in large organisation because it can save a lot of time. For example, project team meeting can be done by using intranet.
(a) Crashing of tasks
Crashing of tasks is very important when project need to complete in less amount of time. For example, when user need project as fast as possible, crashing of tasks can be useful. Moreover, when developing a project, a risk occurs and the project cannot finish in time. In this situation, the project manager should use crashing technique. Project managers have responsibility to control the crashing of tasks. Project manager can use the crashing of tasks by adding more resources to tasks or giving overtime fee to the existing resources. This is important for project manager to control project time, cost and resources management areas when he/she use this technique.
(b) Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT)
PERT is a project time management technique that is useful to estimate the duration of large and complex projects and illustrate the time need to complete the tasks included in a project. The purpose of PERT is to plan; schedule and control complex project .PERT is usually used in combination with critical path method. PERT is an important technique in project time management area for project managers. Project managers can estimate the duration of complex project by using PERT technique based on optimistic time, pessimistic time and most likely time. PERT technique can estimate average duration of time approximately. So project managers can estimate the cost of the project by knowing the duration. So this is an important technique.
(c) SWOT analysis
SWOT analysis is important in project strategic planning that is used to investigate the strengths, weakness, opportunities and threads of a project. SWOT analysis is useful in decision-making for project managers and high level managements. This is also useful in identification of potential risks in development of a project. SWOT analysis can be used in the project configuration management area, for example, what are the strengths, weakness, opportunities and threads if there is a change in a project. So SWOT analysis is a very useful method not only in project time management but also in project risk, configuration management and decision making.
(d) Critical path
Critical path is the longest path of the project with the least amount of float or slag. Critical path is important in calculating the total duration of project. Although the critical path is the longest path, it represents the shortest time to complete a project. Critical path play essential role in a project. Project manager should monitor the performance of tasks on the critical path carefully. The purpose is to avoid the late project completion. Furthermore, other actions like project crashing should try crashing the tasks on the critical path because this can be the effective project crashing. There can be one or more critical path in a project. If more than one critical path in a project, project manager must keep his/her eyes on all of them.
(a) A milestone
A milestone of a project is a significant event at the end of phases or tasks that usually has zero duration. In my own experience, milestone can be used in project planning and monitoring. For example, there may be a milestone after project analysis stage in Gantt chart. Milestones can be two ways, hit or miss. For example, if a project phase finishes before a defined milestone, than we can say hit the milestone. Otherwise, a project phase finish after a defined milestone, so we can say missed the milestone. If the situations of milestone missed, the project manager should reconsider the project schedule about to take some actions. Some project managers put the milestones in the product deliverable or output. In my point of view, putting the milestones in the deliverables of product should use in DSDM.
(b) The scope of a project
In my point of view, the scope of a project is all the activities/functions of project involved in creating the agreed products with user and the processed used to create them. For example, when we are looking for a laptop, we want core i7 processor with memory 4G and 1G graphic card. This is the scope of project. When we define the scope of a project, we should consider about time and cost. How much we need to spend? And how long it will take to buy it? To demonstrate the scope of a project, we need to create the work breakdown structure because WBS can show the scope of the project in detail.
(c) Risk Transference
In my opinion, risk transference is a way of reducing the consequences of a risk by relocating to the other external agency. For example, the developers of a development team are sick and they can’t do their tasks about one week, so the project can’t finish in time. In this situation, the project manager can gives the tasks to the other third party or software house. The project can be finish in agreed time by moving the tasks to outside. This is called risk transference. I think this is also a way of outsourcing. Risk transference can cost more than normal cost because the project needs to finish in time. However, risk transference can reduce the responsibility of the project team in a bad situation.
(d) Parkinson’s Law
In my experience, if there are some buffers in a project, the work can expand as the available time. For example, the available time for a project is 10 days. If the developers work about 8 hours/full time, the project can be done in 5 days. However, the developer work only 4 hours for this project and they work another 4 hours for other projects. By using Parkinson’s Law, not only the project can be done in time but also the developer can give times for other project. In my point of view, this law is a little bit dangerous for unfamiliar project. If some risks occur while developing, the project cannot finish in time because there is no feeding buffer.
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