Individual case study

Individual case study

This assessment item is to be completed individually.
The case study simulates a project management scenario where the student takes on the role of project manager. The case information is not complete so where necessary students will have to make assumptions and argue the pros and cons for any recommendations they make.
If necessary, students are expected to find relevant information in the academic literature to justify their answers.
To assist students in their assessment solution development the following information is provided:
• Product development case description
• Specific assessment questions that must be answered
• Information regarding the submission of the assessment
• Marking guide
Product Development Case Description
Background
CQSoftware is a medium sized company that develops custom hardware and software solutions. You are an employee of CQSoftware and work as project manager for the company. CQSoftware have been approached by a company involved in environmental monitoring to provide a system that can be used by environmental scientists to collect data in the field and then further process the data back at head office.
The people involved in preliminary investigations are:
• You – Mr. Brown, the project manager.
• Ms. Green – an experienced Systems Analyst.
• Mr. Black – an experienced Engineer with knowledge of handheld devices for data collection.
As a result of the preliminary investigations you are aware that software has to be developed for a robust/rugged handheld device for easy data capture in the field. Between them, Mr. Black and Ms. Green have a basic understanding of both the hardware and software requirements for the device, although a more detailed requirement analysis and requirement specification will need to be developed and approved.
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Similarly, Ms.Green is now in a position to develop a more detailed requirements specification for the data processing and report generation that needs to be carried out on the server at head office.
Ms. Green and Mr. Black have provided you with the following information to develop a preliminary schedule for the project:
1. A work break down structure (WBS), resource estimates and some dependencies provided in Table 1 below.
2. In addition, Mr. Black provided you with the Activity-In-the-Box (AIB) network diagrams in Figure 1.
Note that the following abbreviations are used in the table:
• Electronic Engineer (EE)
• Software Engineer (SE)
• Environmental Scientist (ES)
• Analyst/Designer (AN)
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Environmental Scientist
Supplied by customer – $0 in resource sheet
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The resources work a 40 hour week from Monday to Friday (i.e. a 5 day week with 8 hour days). The functional managers have assured you that the resources are able to do all the tasks within their field of expertise (i.e. there are no differences in the abilities of the 5 software engineers compared to one another and similarly no difference between the abilities of the 2 electronic engineers).
You may also need to make some assumptions to complete your schedule and budget. If so, make sure that you list any assumptions you make at the beginning of your assignment submission.
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Assessment Part A
For part A of the assessment you must complete the following tasks and questions. Read all the questions before you commence the tasks. The schedule is to be developed in an appropriately named Microsoft Project 2010 file (see below) and the questions are to be answered in a Word document. As stated above, any assumptions must also be listed at the beginning of the Word document.
1. You have been asked by the operations manager, Ms. Whyte, to use Microsoft Project to develop the project schedule. Note that she has also asked you to include the milestones at the end of the task list in your schedule.
Based on the information in the case study description above, use Microsoft Project 2010 to produce a “Part A” schedule. Make sure that you:
a) Include the milestones at the end of the task list.
b) Include the resource allocation details on the schedule.
c) Have the project name (Environmental Monitors) as the top of the task list and have all other tasks and summary tasks indented according to the given WBS.
d) Make sure that the holidays described in the “additional information” are not included in the available working days for your project.
e) Use the Microsoft Project software to make sure that the critical path(s) are automatically displayed in red on the bars of the Gantt chart view of you schedule.
At this point there may be resource over allocation issues. Do not attempt to resolve these before answering question 2. Save this version of your schedule in EnvironemntalMonitorsPartA1.mpp. You will be required to submit this file as part of your assignment submission.
2. At this point ignore any resource over allocations. Based on your EnvironmentalMonitorsPartA1.mpp schedule (and assuming that you would have no resource constraints):
a) How long would the project take?
b) What are the start and finish dates of the project?
c) List all the tasks that are on the critical path.
d) Did the annual holidays make any difference to the end date of your project? Explain why/why not.
e) If you were asked to complete the project 3 weeks earlier by reducing the duration of some of the tasks in the project, what tasks would you target for reduction and why? In your answer, include specific suggestions about how you could reduce the duration of those tasks.
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3. Create a copy of EnvironmentalMonitorsPartA1.mpp in another file called EnvironmentalMonitorsPartA2.mpp. If there were any resource over-allocation issues resolve these in this new EnvironmentalMonitorsPartA2.mpp without adding any additional resources. Save the “modified” version of EnvironmentalMonitorsPartA2.mpp.
a) Describe how you used/would use Microsoft Project to resolve any resource over-allocation issues?
b) In your Word document, list the tasks that are now displayed as “critical”.
c) Do the resource constraints have any impact on your project duration and end date? Explain.
d) Sometimes it is possible to resolve resource over-allocation issues by levelling within available slack. What impact does this have on your project schedule? (Hint: consider both the advantages and disadvantages in your answer.)
4. As explained in the case study, the environmental scientist will come from the “customer” organisation to work on the project as required. You have been asked to give at least 2 weeks notice to the customer company before you require the involvement of an environmental scientist. Answer the following questions based on your EnvironmentalMonitorsPartA2.mpp schedule:
a) List the dates you expect to require an environmental scientist for work on the project.
b) Add a “milestone” as a reminder of the last date you need to give notice to the customer of your requirement for an environmental scientist. Add this at the start of your list of milestones and highlight the milestone in the task list using the “background colour” icon on the task ribbon. This will make it easier for your marker to check your work.
c) According to your schedule, when is the last date you need to give notice to the customer about your requirement for an environmental scientist?
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5. Write a memo to Ms. Whyte outlining:
a) the expected completion date of the project, assuming it commences at M1 (1/6/15);
b) the total duration of the project;
c) an explanation of the main factors that cause the project to require that length of time and any recommendations that you might make if time was a priority for the project;
d) the estimated direct labour cost of the project (excluding the cost of the environmental scientist). Present the costs in a table showing the costs for the following:
Cost
Requirements Analysis
Software Design
Software Development and Testing
Hardware
Field Trial 1
Field Trial 2
Final Production
Total for the Project:
Assume that you will send the project schedule (EnvironmentalMonitorsPartA2.mpp) as an attachment to the memo. The information in the memo should correspond to the attached schedule.
6. You have summarised the direct labour costs in question 5. What additional costs are associated with this project? Be as specific as possible in your answer.
7. Are there any other project related supporting activities, plans, events or tasks that you might have overlooked? If they were overlooked describe how this could impact on the project. (Aim to identify and discuss at least two.)
Assessment Part B
Ms. Whyte reviews your project schedule and requests that the analyst/designer also be involved in the field test reviews. Ms. Whyte wants the additional expert (the analyst/designer) involved as part of the review process, but does not want to reduce the time for the review process. Ms. Whyte has also asked you to change the estimated time of delivery for the tablet and components to 1 week as she believes that most suppliers would have no difficulty delivering the tablet and components in this time frame. However, she has also been contacted by the customer who now requires two additional reports. You are told that they will both have the same resource requirements as report A and they will be referred to as report E and report F.
1. Create a copy of EnvironmentalMonitorsPartA2.mpp in another file called EnvironmentalMonitorsPartB.mpp. Amend the project schedule in EnvironmentalMonitorsPartB.mpp incorporating the requested changes from Ms. Whyte.
Make sure that you add all the tasks required to generate and test the two new reports as well as all the necessary predecessor and successor links to incorporate these tasks into your
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schedule. Again, use report A as a guide. Also ensure that you assign the required resources to the new tasks.
Highlight all the changes (including changes to predecessor relationships in other tasks). This is to aid your marker.
If necessary, resolve any resource over-allocation. You will also be required to submit this file (EnvironmentalMonitorsPartB.mpp) as part of your assignment submission.
2. Describe the impact(s) of each the following on the project schedule:
a. The addition of the analyst designer to the field test reviews.
b. The change in duration of the delivery times.
c. The requirement for the two additional reports.
Explain your answers.
3. Describe the impact(s) of each the following on the project budget:
a. The addition of the analyst designer to the field test reviews.
b. The change in duration of the delivery times.
c. The requirement for the two additional reports.
Explain your answers.
4. Project changes can influence the schedule and budget of successor tasks in a project and this can also have a large impact on other project stakeholders. What steps could the project manager take to allow a smoother transition of project changes? Provide two specific suggestions in your answer.
5. Organisational culture is very important for a successful company. What steps would you take to create a company culture that promoted project success and ethical behaviour? Provide examples of your solution.
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Assessment Part C – AMEX, Hungary – “International Projects”
Before attempting this section of the assignment you must read chapter 15 “International Projects” in the course textbook and complete the review questions at the end of the chapter. This chapter is for self-study by all students in the course. Although the PowerPoint slides for this chapter can be found with the week 12 materials on the course website you need to study the chapter earlier than week 12 to be able to complete assignment 2 on time. The solutions to the chapter 15 review questions are also with the week 12 materials on the course website. However, they are not hidden and can be viewed at any time during the term.
The following questions relate to case 15.1 at the end of chapter 15. The case is described on pages 566 – 568. This content can be accessed from the course website. The link to the case can be found under the link to the assignment specification and appears as below.
This CRO has a copy of chapter 18 (used in another course) and a copy of pages 566- 568 with the case study for this section of the assignment. You are required to answer the following questions about case 15.1 as part of this assignment.
1. What are the issues confronting Thomas in this case? (You should be able to identify at least six issues).
2. How well is Thomas dealing with these issues?
3. What suggestions would you have for Thomas in managing this project?
Assumptions
You are free to make any assumptions necessary to complete the assignment. However, each assumption must be justified and stated clearly in your assessment Word document. Marks will be deducted for any unreasonable assumption or for stating an assumption and then ignoring it in your assignment.
Submission of Assessment
The assignment is to be submitted as four separate files using the electronic assignment submission system that can be accessed from the assessment item 2 link on the course website. The five files to be submitted are:
1. The Word document with the assumptions and solutions to the questions for Part A, Part B and Part C.
2. The Microsoft project files created for Part A and Part B. Please ensure that the Microsoft Project files are named according to the instructions in the assignment specification (EnvironmentalMonitorsPartA1.mpp, EnvironmentalMonitorsPartA2.mpp and EnvironmentalMonitorsPartB.mpp).