Discussion Questions About Project Management

Table of contents

The ability to communicate timely and accurately plagues many project teams. Often team members do not share information relating to changes that have occurred. Project managers at times fail to put communication tools in place in reference to requirements in terms of logistics, frequency of meetings, and version control. Resolution Project manager must understand how communication is dispersed within the culture of an organization. They should inform all team members of what is expected, and what is available by implementing a comparable communication plan within the culture.

A checklist of statuses and deliverables should be accessible to all participants. The plan should have a timeline attached to required checkpoints.

  • Scope Creep Project managers are always on the lookout for changes in the scope of a project deliverable. It tends to happen right before most deadlines.

Scope creep refers to additional requirements that are requested by the customer. Resolution The best defense against scope changes are to document requirements and related tasks in the Requirements traceability matrix. All communications must be documented in the change log.

A review at end of each phase of project cycle should revisit change log entries.

  • Vague Vision The purpose of the project may not be clearly defined. If this is the case, the of the instructions being communicated will result in a nearly impossible project.

It will most likely be unsuccessful, and may never come to completion. Resolution Reiterate focus on vague goals and Needs Statement with stakeholders to get a better understanding. Make sure a cost/benefits analysis has been done to explain costs and billing. Meet with key customers and project manager to authenticate the legitimacy of the feasibility study.

(DQ2) What are the three benefits of the work breakdown structure (WBS) on a project?

What are three common shortcomings found in a WBS and what actions can you take to overcome each one?

WBS Benefits:

  • The work is organized into manageable units for assignment to team members.
  • The task is scheduled and a cost or budget is attached to the work
  • The amount of progress that is made to completion can then be measured
  • The costs of the individual work/tasks can be determined WBS Shortcomings: 1. At times the time estimated to complete a task is incorrect.

This impacts the project schedule and may impact other tasks that are related. Solution: To avoid this it is important to request estimate review with peers or team leaders, if required, to get a true estimate before placing estimates in WBS. 2. Including time for status meetings and other administrative assignments in the estimated time to complete a task. Not just actual time completing the task. This will impact the costs of the project. Solution: Project Manager and team leaders need to budget or request a realistic estimate to include meetings and miscellaneous administrative time in the estimate.

  • Team member does not give accurate assessment of work or complexity of task assigned and underestimates a task.

This can happen due to inexperience or overconfidence. Solution: Project Manager should require team to use an estimating tool. Also project manager or team lead can review related tasks for dependencies. Applying costs relating to each key area within a task for the phase (Lewis, 2009). (DQ3) You have been assigned the project manager of a major software development project. Currently, the only thing you know is that it will be an accounting system.

What project management deliverables can you produce to help you obtain a sense of direction for the project? How would you go about getting each one started and completed? Deliverables: Defining the work: Meeting with the customer to gather requirements. Determine the constraints or scope of the project. Goals of management and how they tie into the project. Complete a feasibility study to review project requirements related to purchases, sales, and accounts payable and receivable and other financial processes involved in an accounting business.

During the definition phase meet with the customer and key stakeholders to understand the purpose of the product. After goals are defined and requirements are documented. The next step will be to get an overall estimate or cost and benefits analysis to determine the feasibility each deliverable. Areas to cover are the definition of requirements, expected budget constraints and appropriate level of quality expected. Once a project manager is assigned they will meet with the customer to go over the scope, budget, determine expected project schedule, and start planning.

How would you go about getting each one started and completed? For each deliverable, there will need to be a definition of the requirements, critical success factors for implementation (mini-scope), and cost/benefit analysis. The project manager will then put together the work in measurable pieces or packages based on the function. The work will then be scheduled within a work breakdown structure that assigns cost to each work package. (DQ4) Projects succeed and fail for many reasons. What do you think are the five reasons why projects fail and what do you think are the five reasons why they succeed?

  • What project management deliverables can you employ to help ensure success on a project?
  1. If the customer/user is uninvolved in planning. The user must continually be required to participate during the project, without user input, the level of commitment to the project is not there. The effort must be made to include the user in walkthrus, meetings, signoff of deliverables, and testing.
  2. A project that has been overly long. Technology and processes are constantly being upgraded and enhanced. If a project was built around cd-rom for example, it would now be obsolete as MP3 or other technology has long since taken over the IT market.A long term project should be broken down into phases assessed at checkpoints to reevaluate its relevancy.
  3. A project that does meet customer approval. This happens as a result of failed user acceptance testing. Users should be selected that understand the system or process. They should be trained to recognize bugs or errors in testing results. Test cases should be developed that are real life scenarios from day to day transactions. Also stress testing that goes beyond the normal use of the system should be monitored to meet user acceptance.
  4. The lack of effective change control. When changes become ad hoc or on the fly without clarification as to how they affect the overall project, they can cause major problems with implementation. Changes should be documented and revisited as each deliverable is implemented.
  5. Business not just another project. Failure to consider the project as affecting the business of the organization. Each project has a budget and failure to stay within the constraints of the budget can cause a project to fail. Simply because the budget has been exceeded.

A project manager must keep an watchful eye on how changes, scope creep, and work breakdown structure elements affect the overall budget of the project. (DQ5) Which do you think has a more profound influence on a project: culture or structure? Give three reasons for your answer. What are three challenges can you expect to face by choosing one over the other and how would you deal with each challenge? Culture has a more profound influence.

  • 1. Both from the user and project team perspective. If there is poor communication within a project team, this could significantly impact a project.

In terms of cost and budget, scope, and quality to name a few areas. The challenge of communication will have to be dealt with by management. Managers need to let teams know their feedback through WBS and status is a requirement. They need to know accuracy is important. They also need to know that schedules and performance will be reviewed. Top managers need to show support of project managers and empower them with the authority and resources needed.

  • 2. No collaboration between user community and project team.

If the customer and the project team are not involved resolving issues within the deliverables, culture may be affecting the project. If the project team assumes they know what the customer means when in actuality the technical team needs to meet with the customer, this is a culture issue. Again project managers need to inform teams that users must be included in walkthrus, meetings where necessary and used as a resource for questions. Customer stakeholders must inform users that they are required to make themselves available and accessible for the project.

  • 3. Management or stakeholders uninvolved with project.

If management typically does not meet with the project management and team members to review deliverables or at checkpoints, this could be a culture issue. Top managers and user stakeholders or sponsors must meet periodically with the entire project team including users to show support for the project and appreciation for the effort of all involved.

References

  1. SBA. gov. (2009). Project Management. Retrieve May 10, 2009 from http://www. projectmanagementcourse. com/project-challenges. html Lewis. T. (2009). System Development Methodology. Retrieved May 10, 2009 from http://www. sba. gov/ocio/sdm/fram1. htm

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