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Optimization of a Project, Coursework Example

Pages: 9

Words: 2400

Coursework

Name at least ten (10) keywords you might use in an electronic search for literature. Refer to a thesaurus to see if they are valid for use in the database you plan to access?

Keyword Association

The primary objective of this section of the capstone project is to identify is to optimize the project through the project management best practices associated with the project management lifecycle and processes.  The first area which the project will start in terms of optimization is gaining an understanding of the tools, techniques, processes and activities that can be utilized to optimize the project (Highsmith & Highsmith, 2010).  In order to do this there must be a period of research and learning.  This is done by conducting a thorough, effective and efficient search on the keywords for this type of activity.  The keyword attributes that would start this research would focus around the activities associated with the project optimization.  These include:

  • Project Optimization
  • Project Selection
  • Cost/Benefit Analysis
  • Earned Value Management
  • Project Crashing
  • Project Fast Tracking
  • Scope Creep
  • Resource Allocation
  • Priority
  • Risk Matrix
  • RACI

According to the Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK) a project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product service or result which has a definitive start and end date (Project Management Institute 2008).  A program is a group of similar or related projects that are managed and controlled together to achieve a specific objective or set of goals.  A portfolio is a strategic effort for leadership to manage a group of programs that may not be necessarily interdependent or interconnected in form, fit or function but provide a definitive benefit to the company in terms of strategic positioning and corporate vision.  In order to provide the best environment for a project or program to succeed there must be an established and standardized form of monitoring and controlling.  The monitoring and controlling process includes the areas of tracking, reviewing and governing the achievements, roadblocks, progressions and overall performance of the project.  This is also the area within project management where changes to scope, project schedule and cost are governed and documented.  Changes within a project can cause unnecessary delays and potentially lead to a failed project if not properly controlled.  The tools and techniques associated with monitoring and controlling provide the project manager and the project team the appropriate tools to understand the overall changes to the project and provides the ability to building risk mitigation actions to alleviate potential issues that could derail the project.  Each of the keywords held define what is needed for monitoring and controlling a project or program based upon the schedule, scope and cost of the project/program.

Another area that must be tightly monitored and controlled includes delivery schedule.  Utilizing the agile project management methodology there will be multiple releases providing different levels of functionality.  The coordination and integration between systems must be defined as there will be new systems taking over the entire functionality of legacy systems as well as integrations and connections between new and legacy as well as reliance upon legacy systems that will not be phased out during the program’s lifecycle.  Without monitoring and controlling of these deliverables there is no way to manage the project effectively.  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 (Miller, 2009).  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 (Kaufmann & Desbazielle, 1969).

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 software development 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.

Name the logical operators described in this topic you will use between half of your keyword, and explain why. After you have read published research on your topic, if needed, redefine some of your definitions of each variable in light of how other researchers have defined them.

Logical Operators

When performing those searches on the keywords to conduct the research there are certain logical operators that are needed to facilitate an optimize search.  The logical operators are normally generated or derived from that of the Boolean algebraic focus.  Boolean algebra is the representation of variables in the form of truth values, either true or false.  The foundation of Boolean algebra is fundamental to the optimization of the projects search capability and returning the specific and necessary information when requested.  The logical operators that are needed in this circumstance first start out in the area of the basic operations including “and”, “or”, and “not”.  The “and” provides the connection between two variables which is called conjunction.  The next that is needed is the “or” operation.  The “or” provides the ability to choose between two variables and the variable would provide results based on either of the search criteria.  The last basic function required is the “not”.  This is an exclusionary function or referred to as a negation of the operations.  When variables are placed in to the search criteria the criteria is removed from the results.  All three of these logical operators are needed for the use with the keywords.

Name the headings and subheadings you anticipate using to organize your literature review.
(Note that these may change after you have carefully examined all the literature on your topic.)

Headings and Subheadings

Project Management Framework (Project Management Institute, 2008)

Project Lifecycle

  • Project Initiation
  • Project Planning
  • Project Execution
  • Project Planning

Project Management Processes

  • Initiating Process
  • Planning Process
  • Execution Process
  • Monitoring and Controlling Process
  • Closing Process

Project Management Knowledge Areas

  • Project Integration Management
  • Project Scope Management
  • Project Time Management
  • Project Cost Management
  • Project Quality Management
  • Project HR Management
  • Project Communications Management
  • Project Risk Management
  • Project Procurement Management

Will you use sampling to obtain participants for your research? If yes, do you plan to use random sampling, systematic sampling, or some other method of sampling? Explain.

Research Methodology and Sampling

There are multiple facets of a research project and each section has its own pitfalls and potential challenges.  While researching a project it is best to limit the amount of potential input outside catalysts have on the research project unless they naturally are needed to produce the results.  Preconceived notions and opinions should be limited and avoided in order to obtain the fouled or tainted results desired from a research project.  Preconceived information may impact the results of the experiment.  Our own experience may subconsciously lead our results toward an end state that may or may not reflect the actual results.  If the experimentation or research was done previously it may or may not have the same results depending on the assumptions and other environmental factors.  Just because a research project was completely in the past it does not mean that the same inputs were used to create the same response.  The personal experience of those performing the research project may impact the results by allowing the actions taken previously to impact the potential results.  Also, while completing a research project, the notion about what the research presumes will happen could sway the results.  It is best to go into a research project and let the results speak for themselves.  The research should provide clean, clear and focused data points that have as little as possible influence from uncontrolled or extraneous variables.  Ultimately the research project needs to have the methodology and focus to provide the deliverables outlined by the researchers or stakeholders of the research project.

When researching a project there needs to be as many static inputs into the research equation as possible.  When driving toward a result the less amount of changing variables will help determine what the end result is.  The least amount of uncertainty and flux in the inputs of the research project allows the resulting output to be known and why it has the result.

Dynamic inputs have the inherent ability to change.  These changes could force the research into different outcomes depending on how critical the catalysts are that change.  It is important to know which inputs are dynamic and which are static.  Dynamic inputs should be limited and noted and never mistaken for static inputs.  Static inputs are stable and should be seen as inputs that do not need to be monitored as closely as the dynamic and fragile aspects of the research project. If the assumptions are not documented and controlled, inputs not monitored and the information persuaded by personal judgment the results are in jeopardy and would not be repeatable.  A research project needs to investigate how a system, environment or reaction interact without the interference or input from an outside system.  By viewing the environment without interaction will allow the research to remain untainted and produce the best results.  With the wrong assumptions the entire research project could fall like a house of cards.

In order to conduct a sampling of to optimize the project the project team will utilize a survey to conduct a systematic sampling approach. The method of research and sampling technique for this project takes into account the framework of successful research methodology and utilizes a primary research methodology implementing a survey tool and an interview process with those participants that are engaged in the local Project Management Institute chapter.  This information was located on the Project Management Institute website for the local chapter.  The key contact information for the points of contact is available.  This would provide an epicenter of information for the information gathering.  The research data gathering technique used is the survey tool.  The survey tool is used to gather data so that the information can be compiled and analyzed by the researchers.  This information will provide a framework to shed light on the objectives of the project.  The reason for choosing the survey lies in the fact that the objectives of the project require information gathering from a large and generally decentralized population which includes not only directly corollary information about the skills necessary to be successful in project optimization but also key information on demographics, experience, level of progression in project management and other key attributes of the project.  The information gathered will help create the picture needed to determine the right core competencies, skills, tools and techniques necessary to optimize a project.  The survey will be inclusive of the types of variables that are introduced into the research project and will allow a quantitative value to be assigned to the variable.

The survey tool used is a web based program that allows users to login and generate their survey on the user’s time table.  This is important because the person taking the survey must have enough time to take the survey and should be able to have access to take the survey at their convenience.  Having web-based option available allows the user to select their optimal location and time to complete the required information.  The users taking the survey are a representation of the current Project Management Institute participant.

Do you anticipate collecting demographics? If yes, list them and explain why you made that
decision.

Collecting Demographics

Throughout the research project it is deemed important to collect demographics of those who are participating in the project.  The reason for this is to understand the full gamut of users, participants and subject matter experts.  The research will focus on the best and most trusted methods for project optimization.  By understanding the experience levels, industries, credentials, education and other variables in project management.  The insight into the demographics will allow for a better picture and understanding of who is providing the information as well as the person’s credibility within the project management knowledge area.

The demographics would include:

  • Work Years
  • Project Management Experience (Years)
  • Current Role
  • PMP Certification and Year
  • Other Certifications
  • Education
  • Industry
  • Affiliation with PMI
  • Preferred Optimization Tools
  1. In light of the information in this topic and in the previous topic, what is your anticipated sample size? Explain the basis for your decision

Sample Size

The sample size of the research will focus on the primary members of the local chapter of the Project Management Institute.  The core membership is approximately 40-60 members.  This will be the initial sample size of the project’s research.  The reason for this is the centralized experience with project optimization as well as the accessibility through the monthly PM meetings that will provide our research the opportunity for multiple touch points over the course of the project.  If there is a need for a larger sample size the initial contact with the local PMI will facilitate the relationship on a larger level if needed.  The initial group of 40-60 PMI members will provide the potential for quality information that is required for this project.

References

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

Highsmith, J. A., & Highsmith, J. (2010). Agile project management, creating innovative products. Addison-Wesley Professional.

Kaufmann, A., & Desbazielle, G. (1969). Critical path method. New York, NY: Gordon and Breach Science Publishers.

Leach, L. P. (2005). Critical chain project management. Norwood, MA: Artech House, INC.

Miller, D. (2009). Building a project work breakdown structure: visualizing objectives, deliverables, activities, and schedules (esi international project management series). Boca Raton, Fl: Auerbach Publications.

Project Management Institute. (2008).A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide) Fourth Edition. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute.

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