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Projects can be done successfully when they meet criteria such as delivering it on time, be on a budget and if the system works as required. It is not always easy to meet all these criteria. Many projects fail on one more criteria and they cannot be delivered successfully.
1 – Unrealistic Time Estimate
Mistakes done during the estimation causes problems to the project. The time on task is the time to complete it without any interruptions, whereas the duration of the task is the time taken to actually complete the task including any interruptions. Using time instead of the duration is the problem made by project managers as they cannot set the realistic time. The manager should think of any potential errors and difficulties that can extend the deadline of the task to make sure that the deadline of each task and then a project can be met. Another problem with time estimating is that the project timescale is too long and then the system which is delivered is not longer in use by an organization. Managers need to deliver the project quickly. The plan is set without considering the size of work that needs to be done to ensure delivery of the project. As a result of it, these systems can be delivered late or only partly of the facilities that were asked for.
The group is doing the project which the delivery time was estimated by the manager. The manager found out that the team is weeks behind on a project which needed to be completed yesterday. The team is behind because they did not follow the project log and some people in the group were taking too long to complete particular tasks. To finish the project as soon as possible, the team has to do overtimes.
2 – Unclear Goals and Objectives
Without clear goals and objectives it is almost sure that the projects will fail as the result user requirements will not be clear. Sometimes the goal of the project may not be clear and this is because the requirements gathering was not enough, sometimes goals and objectives might be unclear because project stackholders lack the experience to describe what they really require. Defining clear requirements for a project can take time and lots of communication.
The project is to create a computer customer relationship management system to improve the quality and efficiency of customer care. Here, the user requirements are not clear and the team is not sure how computerized customer relationship management system will be used to improve customer care. This is left for the project participants, the scope and schedule of the project cannot possibly be accurate because their objectives are unclear and any participants’ understanding can be not accurate.
3 – Lack of User Involvement
To be able to complete a project within the criteria, user has to be involved in the project to make sure that the requirements are clear. Without user involvement nobody in the business feels committed to a system and so, they are not able to complete the system properly. To be able to finish the project with a success, the management and user need to be involved from the beginning to the end of the project. 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.
The business needs to create a Database for a user. In this case, the user gave a part of the requirements, but these requirements are not enough for the company to start the project. This is where the company needs to gather more information on the system required from the user. The problem with the projects also occurs when the business wants to test the system against to the user requirements than the user will see that the system does not meet its needs.
[P2] Describe different tools and methodologies that are available to support the project manager
There are different tools and methodologies which are used in order to support and prevent of failure to the project manager. They are used in order to track the project and to follow the time schedule which was planned.
A Gantt chart is a graphical representation of the duration of tasks against the progression of time. It is useful tool for planning and scheduling projects. Gantt chart is used to plan how long the project should take, it lays out the order of tasks which need to be completed and it also say when the tasks must be completed. It is also helpful for monitoring the project. It shows what should be achieved in any point in time.
In a Gantt chart, each task takes up one row with dates running across the horizontal axis in increments of days, weeks or months. The bars in the Gantt chart visually show the start and end dates of each task in a project. Tasks may run sequentially, in parallel or overlap each other.
There are some software which help to create a Gantt chart. For example, SmartDraw. It has some very useful features, such us automatic formatting and quick start templates.
Example of my own gantt chart
Microsoft Project is software used by project managers to help them manage projects. It gives them an intuitive and easier way to simple be more productive and to complete projects with the success. Within The MS Project the project can be managed week by week or day by day. It depends of the user preference. MS project keeps all the tasks in order, which help the user to know the time schedule for each tasks.
Entering resources is one of the easiest steps in Project; it is done in a resources dialog box. When the resources are entered into project, user can select the task and then select the resource.
When it will be assigned the tick in the cell next to the resource will be displayed. When assigned, there will be a Tick in the cell next to the resource name, the Units will register the default setting of 100%, and the resource name will appear to the right of the Gantt bar. If more or less than 100% is wanted, enter the number required before assigning the resource.
/ Example from – http://pubs.logicalexpressions.com/pub0009/LPMArticle.asp?ID=213
[M1] Explain, using examples, how it is possible to minimise the changes of project failing
It is better to avoid the project failing rather than cure it. There are many ways of avoiding failure; this can be done by keeping time schedule, executing effective team communication and using project management strategy.
Project Management Risk
Risk management is a process in which any project risks that can occur to the business are identified, analyses and mitigated. Effective risk management is a multistep process. The Risk Management Plan:
Risk Identification – In this stage, we identify and name the risks. The best approach is a workshop with business and IT people to carry out the identification. Risks should be defined in two parts. The first is the cause of the situation (Vendor not meeting deadline, Business users not available, etc.). The second part is the impact (Budget will be exceeded, Milestones not achieved, etc.).
Risks Quantification – Risk need to be quantified in two dimensions. The impact of the risk needs to be assessed and the probability of the risk occurring needs to be assessed.
Risk Response – A risk response plan should include the strategy and action items to address the strategy. The actions should include what needs to be done, who is doing it, and when it should be completed.
Risk Monitoring and Control – The final step is to continually monitor risks to identify any change in the status, or if they turn into an issue. It is best to hold regular risk reviews to identify actions outstanding, risk probability and impact, remove risks that have passed, and identify new risks.
Example 1: Unrealistic Time Estimate
To make sure that the deadline to finish the project can be met, the realistic time should be estimate. If the manager will give the team not enough time to finish the project, they will not be able to delivery on time. To avoid any of problems related to time and deadline, the project manager should use one of the project plan tools which is used to plan and then monitor how the project goes, for example, Gantt chart.
Example 2: Unclear Goals and Objectives
The goals and objectives have to be clearly understood by every member of team, the project manager should clearly outlined the objectives for the project. It is important that the goals are clear so the project can be delivered to the user with the wanted quality. The scope will become more refined as a project progress, but it should always remain within the initial parameters defined. To avoid failure such as unclear goals and as a result scope creep, companies can use change management, this controls information gathereted and any changes to the project scope. This will help the team to know what the goals of the project are, even if some of the requirements changes during the planning or implementation.
Example 3: Lack of user involvement
It is important that the user is involved in a project as well as a projects management team. The user needs to give all the requirements of the project. User also has to participate during the implementation as all the information that he needs to be added as essential as this stage. Senior management need to continuously support the project to make it clear to staff it is a priority.
[M2] Describe critical path analysis (CPA) and explain with an example how critical paths can be identified
Critical paths analysis is powerful tools that help to schedule and manage complex projects. It is mainly used to find the time taken to complete gives project, time takes for each task and the earliest possible time to complete the project.CPA helps to plan all tasks that must be completed as part of a project. They act as the basis for preparation of a schedule, and of resource planning. During management of a project, they allow to monitor achievement of project goals. They help to see where remedial action needs to be taken to get a project back on course.
The benefit of using CPA within the planning process is to help to develop and test the plan to ensure that it is robust. Critical Path Analysis formally identifies tasks which must be completed on time for the whole project to be completed on time. It also identifies which tasks can be delayed if resource needs to be reallocated, to catch up on missed or overrunning tasks.
Another benefit of CPA is that it helps to identify the minimum length of time needed to complete a project. It identifies which project steps a user should do faster to complete the project within the available time.
The disadvantage of CPA, if a user use it as the technique by which your project plans are communicated and managed against, is that the relation of tasks to time is not as immediately obvious as with Gantt Charts. This can make them more difficult to understand.
How to use the tool
With the Critical Path Analysis is that a user cannot start some activities until others are finished. These activities need to be completed in a sequence, with each stage being more-or-less completed before the next stage can begin. These are “sequential” activities. Other activities are not dependent on completion of any other tasks. You can do these at any time before or after a particular stage is reached. These are non-dependent or ‘parallel’ tasks.
Drawing a CPA
Step 1. List all activities in the plan
For each activity, show the earliest start date, estimated length of time it will take, and whether it is parallel or sequential. If tasks are sequential, show which stage they depend on.
Step 2. Plot the activities as a circle and arrow diagram
CPA are presented using circle and arrow diagrams. In these, circles show events within the project, such as the start and finish of tasks. The number shown in the left hand side of the circle allow to identify each one easily.
An arrow running between two event circles shows the activity needed to complete that task. A description of the task is written underneath the arrow. The length of the task is shown above it. All arrows run left to right.
This example shows that activity B can start after A is completes. It also shows that activity F can be started after D and E are completed.
The network diagram shows the EST for each task. It is conventional to start at 0. EST was calculated by adding at the EST form the previous task and the number of weeks that is takes to finish the tasks. LFT was done in the other way – by looking at the LFT of the previous task and the duration of the text. Then subtracting the number form left to right.
The CPM for this diagram is A – B – D – F – G. This is found by looking at the nodes’ EST and LFT, the one with the same EST and LFT identify the critical path.
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