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Mark Pearl

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Objectives of Chapter 3

  • Explain the elements of project management and the responsibilities of a project manager
  • Explain project initiation and the project planning activities of the SDLC
  • Describe how the scope of the new system is determined
  • Develop a project schedule using Gantt charts
  • Develop a cost/benefit analysis and asses the feasibility of a proposed project
  • Discuss how to staff and launch a project

Key Words & Definitions

  • project management – organizing and directing other people to achieve a planned result within a predetermined schedule and budget
  • client – the person or group that funds the project
  • oversight committee – clients and key managers who review and direct the project
  • user – the person or group of people who will use the new system
  • agile software development – a philosophy of software development that embraces flexibility and agility
  • weighted scoring – a method to prioritize projects based on criteria with unequal weights
  • business benefits – the benefits that accrue to the organization; often measured in monetary terms
  • system scope document – a document containing problem description, business benefits, and system capabilities to help define the scope of a new system
  • proof of concept – a very preliminary prototype built to illustrate that a solution to a business need is feasible
  • context diagram – a data flow diagram (DF) showing the scope of a system
  • work breakdown structure (WBS) – the hierarchy of phases, activities, and tasks of a project; one method to estimate and schedule the tasks of a project
  • PERT/CPM chart – a technique for scheduling a project based on individual tasks, or activities
  • Gantt chart – a bar chart that represents the tasks and activities of the project schedule
  • critical path – a sequence of tasks that cannot be delayed without causing the project to be completed late
  • slack time / float – the amount of time a task can be delayed without affecting the project schedule
  • milestone – a definite completion point in a schedule that is marked by a specific deliverable or event
  • risk management – the project management area in which the team tries to identify potential trouble spots that could jeopardize the success of the project
  • cost/benefit analysis – the analysis to compare costs and benefits to see whether investing in the development of a new system will be beneficial
  • net present value (NPV) – the present value of dollar benefits and costs for an investment such as a new system
  • payback period – the time period in which the dollar benefits have offset the dollar costs
  • breakeven point – the point in time at which the dollar benefits have offset the dollar costs
  • return on investment (ROI) – a measure of the percentage gain from an investment such as a new system.
  • tangible benefits – benefits that can be measured or estimated in terms of dollars that accrue to the organization
  • intangible benefits – benefits that accrue to the organization but that cannot be measured quantitatively or estimated accurately

Example Questions for the Chapter

  • List the seven reasons why projects fail
  • What are three reasons why projects are initiated
  • Explain how information system project management is similar to project management in general

Project Management

Project management is the organizing and directing other people to achieve a planned result within a predetermined schedule and budget.

There are many reasons why projects do not fulfil the desired objectives or are only partially successful. They include the following…

  • Incomplete or changing system requirements
  • Limited user involvement
  • Lack of executive support
  • lack of technical support
  • Poor project planning (including inadequate risk assessment)
  • Unclear objectives (including unreasonable expectations)
  • Lack of required resources

Additional studies of successful projects help to highlight some reasons why projects succeed. They include…

  • Clear system requirements
  • Substantial user involvement
  • Support from upper management
  • Thorough and detailed project plans
  • Realistic work schedules and milestones

The questions is then asked, how can we improve the project success rate? Companies that have achieved this have attacked the problem from three different angles…

  1. Identify best practices in project management & train project their project leaders on these practices
  2. They adopt a system development methodology
  3. They pay particular attention to factors that influence project success and focus on instituting characteristics of successful projects

The Role of a Project Manager

  • The project manager defines and executes project management tasks
  • The project manager serves as the director or locus of control for the project team and all their activities

The following identifies a few of the internal responsibilities…

  • Identify project tasks and build a work breakdown structure
  • Develop the project schedule
  • Recruit and train team members
  • Assign team members to tasks
  • Coordinate activities of team members and sub teams
  • Asses project risks
  • Monitor and control project deliverables and milestones
  • Verify the quality of project deliverables

Some of the major external responsibilities include the following…

  • Report the project’s status and progress
  • Establish good working relationships with those who identify the needed system requirements
  • Work directly with the client and other stakeholders
  • Identify resource needs and obtain resources

Project Management through the SDLC

Three major project management processes overlap the SDLC processes…

  1. Executing
  2. Controlling
  3. Closing

There are two types of life cycles in the SDLC,

  1. Predictive
  2. Adaptive

With either approach the role of the project manager is slightly different, because these approaches are different, however with either approach the project manager will be involved in all three SLDC processes.

Project Management and the Level of Formality

  • Depending on the scope of the project, the level of formality in the project planning may vary
  • Smaller projects may be less formal, while larger projects may be more formal
  • Also, whether the project is predictive or adaptive also effects the level of formality

In some of the newer agile approaches the level of formality is a lot lower with the emphasis being on things being useful rather than conforming to procedure.

Project Management Knowledge Areas

There are many professional organizations that focus on project management. One of the these organizations, the PMI, has established a body of knowledge called the PMBOK which has 9 different knowledge areas…

  1. Project Scope Management
  2. Project Time Management
  3. Project Cost Management
  4. Project Quality Management
  5. Project Human Resource Management
  6. Project Communication Management
  7. Project Risk Management
  8. Project Procurement Management
  9. Project Integration Management

Project Initiation and Project Planning

Information system development projects are initiated for various reasons, three general driving forces are as follows…

  1. To respond to an opportunity
  2. To resolve a problem
  3. To conform to a directive

Some project are initiated to respond to an opportunity. These projects are usually initiated through strategic planning and are called top-down projects. To prioritize these projects, companies use a technique called a weighted score.

A weighted score is a method to prioritize projects based on criteria with unequal weights.

Projects are also initiated to solve an immediate business problem. These projects attempt to close the gap between what is required to run the business correctly and what is currently in operation.

Projects are also initiated to conform to a directive. For example, legislature by government.

Whatever the source of the new project, be sure to carefully evaluate its feasibility before proceeding.

Project Planning Activities

Both predictive and adaptive projects begin with overall project planning. The major difference between the two types of projects is the level of detail provided.

Predictive projects tend to attempt to plan the entire project upfront while adaptive projects leave much of the detail to be developed during the iteration.

The project planning activities of the SDLC consist of the activities required to get the project organized and started. They include the following…

  • Define the problem
  • Produce the project schedule
  • Confirm project feasibility
  • Staff the project
  • Launch the project

Defining the Problem

Carefully defining the problem is one of the most important activities of the project. The objective is to define precisely the business problem to be solved and thereby determine the scope of the new system.

Defining the problem can be divided up into individual tasks, for example the following tasks would be valid…

  1. Review the business needs that originally initiated the project
  2. Identify at a high level the expected capabilities of the new system
  3. Possibly build preliminary prototypes
  4. Develop diagrams mapping the flow of data in and out of the system

The key question to be answered when completing the problem definition activity is: Do we understand what we are supposed to be working on?

Producing the Project Schedule

When producing a project schedule it is important to understand the definitions of two keywords…

  • Task –is the smallest piece of work that is identified and scheduled
  • Activity – an activity is made up of a group of related tasks or other smaller activities

During project planning it may not be possible  to schedule every task in the entire project because it is to early to know all of the tasks that will be necessary, however one of the requirements of project planning is to provide estimates of the time to complete the project and the total cost of salaries.

The development of a project schedule is divided into three main steps…

  1. Develop a work breakdown structure
  2. Build a schedule using a Gantt chart
  3. Develop a resource requirements and the staffing plan

A work breakdown structure (WBS) is the hierarchy of phases, activities, and tasks of a project; one method to estimate and schedule the tasks of a project.

The for most effective techniques for identifying the tasks of the WBS are…

  1. Top-down – identify major activities first and then listing internal tasks
  2. Bottom-up – listing all the tasks you can think of and then organizing them later
  3. Template – Using a standard template of tasks for projects that are fairly standard
  4. Analogy – Finding a similar, or analogous, project that is finished and copying its tasks

Usually teams try to use the analogy or template approach first.

When developing a WBS, to help determine if you have the right level of detail you can apply the following guidelines…

  1. There should be a way to recognize when the task is complete
  2. The definition of the task should be clear enough so that someone can estimate the amount of effort required to complete it
  3. As a general rule for software, the effort should take 2 to 10 working days

To know more about a Gannt chart see the wiki.

Identifying Project Risks and Confirming Project Feasibility

Project feasibility analysis is an activity that verifies whether a project can be started and successfully completed. Generally the following activities are perfomed when confirming project feasibility…

  • Assess the risk to the project
  • Determine the organizational and cultural feasibility
  • Evaluate the technological feasibility
  • Determine the schedule feasibility
  • Assess the resource feasibility
  • Determine the economic feasibility

Assess the risk to the project

During the project initiation the primary objective of risk management is to identify potential risks and assess their negative impact. One of the best ways to do this is to have a brainstorming session which includes key project members.

Determine the organizational and cultural feasibility

Evaluate & identify organizational & cultural issues  that pose potential risks for the new system. These could include…

  • current low level of computer competency
  • substantial computer phobia
  • perceived loss of control by staff or management
  • potential shifting of political and organizational power due to the new system
  • fear of change of job responsibilities
  • fear of loss of employment due to increased automation
  • reversal of long standing work procedures

Evaluate the technological feasibility

  • assess carefully the proposed technological requirements & available expertise

Determine the schedule feasibility

  • the project team should build the schedule without any preconceived notion of required completion dates.
  • compare the schedule to key times – i.e. for a university admissions system, identify when admissions start so that one knows when the system must be implemented by.

Assess the resource feasibility

Be aware of the resource feasibility of the project. This includes Economic Feasibility.

Economic feasibility consists of two tests…

  1. Is the anticipated value of the benefits greater than projected costs of development?
  2. Does the organization have adequate cash flow to fund the project during the development period?

For a full description on feasibility refer to the chapter in the book.

Completing the Feasibility Analysis

For a project to be viable it should pass  all of the feasibility tests. If it is not feasible in one area, either adjustments need to be made or the project cancelled.

Staffing & Launching the Project

The staffing activity consists of 5 tasks…

  1. Develop a resource plan for the project
  2. Identify and request specific technical staff
  3. Identify and request specific user staff
  4. Organize the project team into workgroups
  5. Conduct preliminary training and team-building exercises
Posted on Monday, August 16, 2010 8:05 AM UNISA ICT 2622 Object Oriented Analysis | Back to top

Comments on this post: Object Oriented Analysis UNISA Studies – Chap 3

# re: Object Orientated Analysis UNISA Studies – Chap 3
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What an excelent idea :) I wish I had a blog in Uni!
Left by Martin Hinshelwood on Aug 16, 2010 4:38 PM

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Thanks for sharing your comprehensive summaries. Now I just need to memorise this all!
Left by Marette on Oct 28, 2010 10:26 PM

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