Management: Final Project, Term Paper Example

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Words: 3439

Term Paper

Abstract

Project management incorporates many tools and techniques to facilitate the opportunity for the success of a project implementation.  When developing a project there are three areas of concern including scope, schedule and cost of the project. By utilizing the best practice framework outlined by the Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK) the project team will have the best environment to adhere to the client’s requirements while also meeting the time and cost demands.  This project will encapsulate the entire project lifecycle to move a data center in 30 days with a budget of $500,000.  The project will span the five process areas and nine knowledge areas specifically focusing on the key deliverables for each area including but not limited to the project schedule and key overviews of how the project will be monitored and controlled using project management tools such as Earned Value Management and risk management techniques.

Background

The company, Fiction Corporation, is looking to transition their data center from one location to another, more strategic location.  During the transition from one data center to another the company is looking to upgrade from their current configuration to a newer and more robust environment.  During the move the company also wants to address the previously acknowledged security flaws.  These security issues were detected by their company and are outlined in their security review document.  The company has $500,000 in capital expenditures for the move which includes hardware equipment for their retail locations, call center and remote warehousing operations.  These operations span multiple time zones and require 24 hour a day support.  The company stated that significant downtime would not be acceptable.  Upon accepting the contract our project management office stated that implementing 2 large UPS, 4 RS/6000 AIX application servers, 10 virtualized servers and 20 PC servers would require a cost of approximately $500,000 in capital expenditures.  The operating expenses will be utilized to install and bring the equipment up and operational.

The operational objectives for this project include:

  • Close one data center
    • Shutoff existing data center functionality
    • Move personnel
  • Open one data center
    • Prepare Facility for new personnel
    • Bring equipment up and operational
  • Transition data feeds
  • Implement security requirements

Project Scope

A project is by definition a temporary endeavor to produce a unique deliverable at the conclusion of the endeavor (PMI 2008).  Just as the foundation of a house supports the entire home to stand the test of time the definition of the scope of a project establishes the entire trajectory of the project and determines what resources and schedule will be needed to accomplish all of the requirements that constitute the scope.  The planning phase of project management includes developing the project management plan, collecting the requirements, defining the scope, assigning resources in a work breakdown structure and defining the activities.  Planning in a project establishes the ground work for the entire project’s lifecycle and will inherently become the foundation for success or failure when the project comes to a close.  In order to understand what is to be delivered at the end of a project there must be boundaries and guidelines established to set the parameters or scope of the project.  Planning a project revolves around defining what needs to be accomplished and how it will be accomplished.  Defining scope is the process of determining a common understanding of what the project will include in or exclude out of the final deliverable (Magal and Word 2011).

The key factors that are determining the triple constraints of this project include the cost of the project, $500,000 budget, and the schedule of the project, 30 days, and the rough outline of the requirements including the move of 2 large UPS, 4 RS/6000 AIX application servers, 10 virtualized servers, and 20 PC servers.  The biggest risk that is initially outlined is the cutover between the old data center and the new data center.  There cannot be significant down time between each data center and anything that is not planned or resulting in a significant outage would cause a direct negative impact on the business operations.  This type of outage would not be acceptable and would put the project at risk as well as the risking the reputation of the project management company.

Scope management is a key success factor in completing any project.  If scope is not managed correctly, the requirements and deliverables may fluctuate so much that the original intent of the project may never be met and could result in a failed project attempt.  As any project progresses through the phases, the intricacies and details of the project gain clarity.  This is where the art of project management dances with the scientific project management methodology to build and execute a project.  The planning phase in project management establishes not only the framework but also how the framework will be followed, funded and communicated.  These established baselines create the launching pad formulating the trajectory of the project.  While the project manager can make adjustments throughout the project there will always be a tradeoff between the triple constraints including cost, schedule and quality (Cooper, Grey, Raymond & Walker 2005).  Proper project planning will promote the rate for success in any project.

The trade-offs in this project are harder to manipulate considering the definitive requirements on the budget of the project as well as the timeframe.  The implementation of the data center requirements is also an area that will not necessarily be a flexible point in negotiations considering the data center needs and the requirements for hardware in the project.  In order to manage the requirements of the project the best area to ensure is solidified is the communication between the project management team, implementation task force and the leadership of the company.  Project management meetings reporting on key metrics for project success, schedule deviations, both positive and negative, as well as costs and expenditures will allow for the teams on both sides of the project are abreast of the challenges and success of the project.

Scope Changes

The scope of the project has the tendency to changes as the project progresses through the project’s lifecycle.  As more information becomes apparent within the development of the project the more opportunity for scope creep to take place.  The expansion or change of the scope can derail a project that is on a successful project path and lead to a project that is over budget and behind schedule.  One of the roles of the project manager is to manage the relationship of the stakeholders and their expectations of the project.  The clear definition of the scope statement and a charter as outlined in the planning phase of the project become essential milestones the project manager can refer to in times of critical decision points in which a trade-off scenario presents itself.

The project manager has multiple tasks when it comes to managing a project.  These project management activities involve driving changes, managing schedules, briefing key stakeholders and a multitude of other tasks to manage a project.  There are also more tasks that involve more insight and leadership skills that require information that can be used as a tool to make better decisions.  Some key decisions on determining resource allocation and prioritization of requirements require the qualitative and quantitative research and analysis of the inputs into the project’s achievements as well as how well those inputs are being utilized.  The tools and techniques a project manager uses to decipher data and add value to the interpretation of that data can provide the advantage needed to successfully complete a project.

Constraints

A project manager faces a continual force in project management called the triple constraints.  These constraints limit the ability for the project manager to manipulate and change the variables within a project to meet everyone’s needs or expectations.  These constraints are cost, schedule and quality.  The cost of the project includes the resources needed to manage and implement the project and could range from hired expertise to manage the project or hardware and software requirements for a new information technology system implementation.  This also includes hired resources to come in and provide the extra labor efforts required to shorten the length of a project or build up the needed labor base for a product launch.  The schedule is the time it takes to complete the tasks within the project plan.  The last constraint is quality which reflects on the requirements of the project and to what level they are completed to meet the objectives of the project’s scope.

Within all three of these areas there are decisions that can be made to decrease the cost at the expense of quality or decrease the schedule with an increase of cost (Dobson, 2004).  In order to decrease the schedule some activities could be crashed on the critical path by assigning more resources to complete the activities of the milestones on the plan.  While this increases the cost of the project it could have been vital to the business to hit a key timeline for implementation and the trade-off was justified by the benefits received by shortening the schedule.

Project Initiation

The five process areas of in the project’s lifecycle including initiation, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling and finally closing.  There are key deliverables in each of these phases and each of these deliverables provides key decision input for the entire project.  During the project’s initiation the project team will create the project charter and identify the key stakeholders.  The project kickoff meeting will officially start the project and will outline how the project is going to be handled, reporting parameters, outline risks and how stakeholders will be engaged throughout the project.  These types of areas must be addressed early especially for a project that is only expected to encompass thirty days.  One example of a key point that would be brought up in a project kickoff meeting includes the requirements.  The clarity of the requirements will make the difference between a project’s success and its failure.  Clarification outlines what is needed by the clients and what they see as success for the project.  Some areas of the project’s delivery requirements may seem obvious such as the amount of servers, negotiated outage time and the amount of labor hours required but there are other areas that are vague or that can be misinterpreted by either side of the project team.  During the kickoff the timing should be discussed to provide the baseline on how the project’s schedule will be developed.  The company outlined a thirty day timeframe.  This could be thirty work days which is 5 weeks or it could mean 30 consecutive days regardless of holidays and weekends.  This is critical piece of information that would set the project up for failure if the schedule was already 25% over before the first meeting.  The other requirements will be addressed and if questions on definition of metrics are needed it will also be brought up in the meeting and documented.  One key example of clarification would be the definition of “significant downtime”.  The reason this is a critical aspect is for the project planning piece of the project.  Downtime must be planned in order to take those critical steps are taken to ensure data validity, integrity and availability during the cutover planning sessions.

Project Planning

During project planning phase the key deliverables are aligned with the project’s phase as well as the knowledge areas in the PMBOK.  Developing the project management plan will allow the documentation of all the actions necessary to execute the project.  The project management plan is a living document that will be updated throughout the project.  To get the project management plan started, the charter is required as an input.  The charter was the result of the project integration management knowledge area (PMBOK 2008).  The project plan is a key deliverable that provides the visual cues to the project team whether they are on track with the project or if they need to take specific project management activities to bring the schedule in or spend more time on other areas of the project.  Below is a visual depiction of the project as whole.  This type of project schedule would be used at the very beginning of the project and would outline a few key points of the project.  The first is that there is a defined project outline and each area falls into the PMBOK phases of project management.

Conceptual vision of Scope

The next area is the level of effort that is required by the project team and the Fiction Corporation during the project.  There will also be multiple types of effort require regarding closing the old facility and opening the new facility.  After the project plan is created and an associated work breakdown structure is in place the management of effort will become clearer and each individual will know what they have to accomplish and when it needs to be done.  By tying these together in a project schedule the person that is dependent upon another task completion will know where a focus of resources needs to occur.  This will make the critical path clear to the users and will allow the appropriate level of resources to be assigned.

The detailed project plan will show 30 days of effort and each activity will be assigned a specific completion date as well as the dependencies for each task.

Implementation of the project

With the actions on paper and the project team managing the project based on the project management plant the next are is the execution of the project.  Project execution is where the rubber meets the road and the tangible tasks are being completed.  The project schedule is defined.  The requirements are aligned with the needs of the company and the schedule is aligned with the timeline set by Fiction Corporation’s leadership.

Monitor and Control

There are a couple tools that would enhance the project management methodology selected and that is the utilization of a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) and defining and utilizing the Critical Path Method (CPM).  The WBS is a breakdown of project deliverables that help define the overall work required to perform specific functions.  This allows the project/program manager to understand what is needed at each level of the project or program and then they have the information to build a delivery schedule and coordinate the releases with other program or portfolio implementations.  The CPM illustrates all of the critical activities based on a WBS to include the duration or time required to complete the tasks and then add the dependencies among the activities to fully understand the project scheduling and resource allocation to achieve those requirements in the WBS.

Resource allocation is more than putting funding into a project and managing costs associated with scope changes.  To supplement the agile project management methodology the program team can use Earned Value Management (EVM) as a tool to measure scope, schedule and cost to provide forecasts of the project’s performance (Fleming & Koffleman 2010).  This tool also illuminates areas that are providing the appropriate level of progress for investment.  EVM measures the projects performance and compares the progress that is obtained with the limited resources provided to that project or program.

Selecting the tools to monitor and control the project was not based on new trends or up and coming models and methodologies of project management.  These tools are based on the needs, complexity and composition of the program which is going to be implemented.  This is a data center move project which includes implementing new user interfaces, system requirements, security needs, training, awareness, hardware implementation, legacy system retirement as well as continually making improvements to effectiveness and efficiency.  All this is to be accomplished while making minimal impact to the business operations.

During the course of the project there are certain inputs that go into completing tasks along the project schedule.  The project manager can utilize certain tools to understand how much cost and effort is required to accomplish the tasks and also understand if the costs inputted into the project are providing the rate of return needed to meet the schedule.  Ultimately the project manager needs to know if the resources allocated to the project are being fully utilized and returning favorable results.  The tool that could provide the most insight and clarification on this would be the Earned Value Management (EVM), tool.  This tool provides the monitoring and controlling aspects of managing a project or program but also provides a level of accountability for the project and program managers (Fleming & Koffleman 2010).  The EVM tool allows the measurement of the three project constraints of scope, schedule and cost while analyzing the performance of the triple constraints against what is being accomplished on the project.  In a complex environment such as implementing new software solution across an entire business the utilization of agile methodologies has been decided.  Within the project management framework, there are techniques used to provide EVM awareness and monitoring for such an implementation.  The use of trending planned value (PV), or the value of work planned to be completed, versus earned value (EV), value actually accomplished in the project, allows insight into the actual work being performed against the expected results.

The EVM tool will establish a base-line cost and measure the capital and operating spends according to the value of the work that is being performed.  EVM will be used to compare work performed with expected work perform and the associated costs with each deliverable area.  The reason EVM will be used is for the simple fact that it has the ability to combine the areas of scope, schedule and cost, all of which the project manager is ultimately responsible (Budd & Budd, 2009).  The earned value of the project is a calculation of the planned value versus the earned value and that is well suited for the type of project implementation the project team is looking to utilize.

Successful projects incorporate the best practices framework as well as the tools and resources that are gathered and utilized throughout a project manager’s career.  The project scope must align with the expectations of the stakeholders as well as the cost estimates, established budget and the proposed schedule of the project.  The project manager garners sign off on the project charter and scope statement at the beginning of the project but once that task is accomplished it becomes the project manager’s responsibility to manage the changes in the scope, the progress achieved through the resource allocation and ultimately the successful accomplishment of the milestones along the path of the project’s lifecycle.  This is achieved through monitoring and controlling techniques as well as the utilization of tools such as the EVM tool.  These tools and techniques provide the project manager the timely and accurate information to make project management decisions while taking the appropriate project actions to meet the expectations of the stakeholders while delivering the requirements on time, on schedule and on budget.

Closing

As stated earlier, a project has a beginning and an end.  Without a formal closure the project is never completely done and an increase in the scope is inevitable.  Throughout the project the project manager is holding tight to the requirements and managing the scope creep so that as project closure nears he will be able to sign off with the Fiction Corporation’s stakeholders to complete the project.  This will be done by walking through the requirements documents as well as the charter to finally verify what was agreed to has been complete.  The sponsor of the project will have to formally approve of the project prior to signoff.  Once the project is signed off the project team can conduct a post-implementation review to determine what went correctly during the project and where there is room for improvement.  During the same timeframe as the post-implementation review there could be a need to administratively close the project.  This includes closing the contracts, reassigning the resources to other projects and performing any audits required by the project management company.  Last but not least the project team should celebrate their accomplishment and all of the hard work that they accomplished over the past thirty days.

References

Budd, C. I., & Budd, C. S. (2009). Earned value project management. (2nd ed.). Vienna, VA: ManagementConcepts.

Cooper, D. F., Grey, S., Raymond, G., & Walker, P. (2005). Project risk management guidelines, managing risk in large projects and complex procurements. John Wiley & Sons

Dobson, M. (2004). The triple constraints in project management. Vienna, VA: ManagementConcepts.

Fleming, Q. W., & Koffleman, J. M. (2010). Earned value project management. Project Management Institute.

Magal, S. R., & Word, J. (2011). Integrated business processes with erp systems. RRD/Jefferson City: Wiley.

Project Management Institute, P. M. (2008). A guide to the project management body of knowledge. (4th ed.). Newtown Square: Project Management Inst.

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