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Unit 17 (P1, M1, P2, P3): Project Planning

Project Lifecycles

Illustrate typical phases of a project lifecycle (P1)

Defining and Producing Specification

This phase is mainly to identify requirements within the project. The specification also identifies things such as: Stakeholders, these are people or a business which is involved in the project. Costs/Benefits, this is where the price of the project is decided upon by the client, and also you check to see what the benefits are; not only to you, but to the clients as well. In addition to this, there will be questions asked like: Who is going to use the system? How will they use the system? What data should be input into the system? What data should be output by the system? The specification should also describe how the system should perform, business logic that processes data, what data is stored and used by the system, and how the user interface should work.


Planning and Designing

This phase should produce a plan which provides a prototype of the requirement phase. The plan can include screen design that will explain how the user will be able to input data and the report that will be output from the system. This is where the details on how the system will work are produced. These details may include hardware and software, communication and software design.


Before the project is implemented, a schedule will be drawn up to stick to a deadline, this is another reason why some project fail because the people do not create an effective enough plan which means that they begin to misplace certain document which can cause problems later on. After this plan is created, the project is then made following specification and to the plan.


Implementing

This stage is often the longest of all stages within the life cycle. This is the main focus of the life cycle because this is where the project is created. Usually, there is someone who creates sub-teams, from this they can keep an easier eye on the cost of the whole project because it will be split up, so it would be easy to control, it also means that the workload would be shorten as the teams would have an equal amount of work. It also helps for the quality of work because each team could take the same amount of time on each detail, rather than have one big team which could get rushed towards the end. This is also a useful stage for whether a plan B is needed in case the project begins to fall apart.


Completing and Reviewing

After completion of the project, the client will have to see if the project meets all the requirements listed in the first phase. The company would then begin testing to see whether the project is what they wanted and is how they wanted it. After testing, quality reviewing is underway to test the project fully to see if it is high enough quality for the company and the price they paid for the project to be created in the first place. There may be faults so after the project is handed over the company is allowed to complain if there are errors within which they didn’t want, if the problems are not solved the company can take the project builder/team to court.

Why Projects Can Fail

Explain why projects can fail (M1)

A project will fail if it is set up to deliver the wrong thing. It may be considered a failure even if everything is delivered on time, within budget, and to the required quality. But if the project does not deliver what the client really needs, then ultimately it would fail. If the project is not planned appropriately or the project life cycle is not followed, it will fail. Team work is necessary for any project as the team need to work together and need to listen to the project manager. Having poor communication skills within the project could bring the project to fail as the team would be misunderstanding any task that has been assigned to them, such as ordering a number of items for the project to start or deadlines dates. Another reason why project fail is bad leadership skills as if the leader is not handling the team and is not organised will make the project fail.


The points listed below are the reasons for project failure:

  • Lack of team work

  • Poor communication

  • Bad leadership

  • Governance is poor

  • Implementation is poor

  • Environment changes

  • Poor requirements

Resources

Explain the resources available to support the project manager (P2)

People

Stakeholders

The stakeholders are the people who are the ones who want to get something out of this and want to make sure it is completed. Stakeholders are the people who want the project finished as fast and as cheap as possible with a good standard.


Product Designers and Developers

The Designer will listen to client on what kind of layout and font they want for the project and then, the designer will create prototypes of the layout and show it to the stakeholders and look for more feedback to then finalise and show it to the client.


The Developer is someone who will be able to make measurements, building layout and drawing how the project should look like. The developer will be able to organise all the equipment that is need to develop the project and it is also the developer responsibilities to buy all the equipment’s that are on the list to do the project with the program manager.


Testers

As each part of the project is completed, it has to be tested. The implementation is test against the requirements to make sure that the product works as it should and that the features and functions of the project work correctly.


Equipment or Facilities

Most projects need equipment or facilities, such as furniture, machinery, hardware and software. Sometimes the equipment is already in place. If it isn’t, you must decide on the equipment needs of your project. You must order it and install it early enough in the plan so as not to delay the project. If the equipment is specialised, your plan must allow for designing and building it.


Finance

Financial backing and a suitable budget is vital to any projects success, without the proper funds a manager cannot afford to pay for other resources to get the job done. A poor cash flow means that the project is unable to move forward or cover any unexpected costs that will almost certainly arise during the project life cycle. Without the correct amount of money a project will fail.


Project management tools

General Planning and Scheduling Tools

Gantt Charts

A Gantt chart is a way of setting a basic and simple design of plans in a short and small image format. A Gantt chart uses a horizontal time over distance design and works in the way that the further it is along the chart, the later on in the project it is. A Gantt chart has a design where the amount of time it takes for a task is represented by the length of the bar on the chart, this means that you can estimate the time scale it will take for you to finish the task. A Gantt chart can be useful for an overview of a project and is good for guideline use, but it does not give detail that may be required.


PERT Charts

PERT is a way of planning and organising a project within a business. This is used to help organise different parts of a business so that they can meet their deadline. This graph shows the tasks that are parallel so that the tasks are that are linked or are close together can be tracked together and planned to end at the same time. PERT is a good way to allow a network of small parts of a company to cooperate with each other to reduce the risk of not hitting a deadline or missing a component to complete the next task.


Critical Path Methods

Critical path methods analyses what activities have the least amount of scheduling flexibility and then predicts project duration schedule based on the activities that fall along the critical path. Activities that lie along the critical path cannot be delayed without delaying the finish time for the entire project.


Specialised Software Packages

Microsoft Project

Microsoft Project is designed to assist project managers in developing plans, assigning resources to tasks, tracking progress, managing budgets and analysing workloads. Microsoft Project creates critical path schedules, this can be resource levelled and is visualised in a Gantt chart. Resource definitions can be shared between projects using a shared resource pool. Each resource can have its own calendar which defines what days and shifts a resource is available. Each resource can be assigned to multiple tasks in multiple plans and each task can be assigned multiple resources. Microsoft Project schedules task work based on the resource availability as defined in the resource calendars. Microsoft Project creates budgets based on assignment work and resource rates. As resources are assigned to tasks and assignment work estimated, Microsoft Project calculates the cost equals the work times the rate.


Project methodologies

Prince2

PRINCE2 was announced in 1996 as a generic project management method. PRINCE stands for Projects in Controlled Environments and was designed as a UK government standard. It is process-driven and divides up into the following eight processes:

  • Starting up a project

  • Planning

  • Initiating a project

  • Directing a project

  • Controlling a stage

  • Managing product delivery

  • Managing stage boundaries

  • Closing a project


Sigma

Six Sigma provides a structured data-driven methodology using tools and techniques that measure performance both before and after projects. Management can measure the baseline performance of their processes to find the root causes of variations, then improve their processes to meet desired performance levels.

It has a solid control phase (DMAIC: Define-Measure Analyse-Improve-Control) that makes specific measurements, identifies specific problems and provides specific solutions that can be measured. Six Sigma encourages strategic and systematic application of its tools on targeted and important projects to bring about significant and lasting change to the whole organisation.

Project Management Issues

Discuss issues affecting project management (P3)

Effects of Changing External Factor

The external factor cannot be controlled by the project manager because if the weather was bad, it would start to stop transport and cause traffic. This means that transporting to one place to another will be at a halt.


Monitoring Progress

The project manager makes sure that the team that is working on the project will be able to give updates on how well the project is progressing. The project manager can also give feedback and have an input on what to do next or improve on anything. The project manager then should continue monitoring the progress of the project and its development.


Taking Corrective Actions Where Necessary

Corrective action refers to any activity of action that is introduced, the point where it changes the course of a project that may have lost focus on the direction it was intended to take. If you have prepared for what has gone wrong then you will simply be able to use whatever you had prepared to fix the issue, for example, if it was a money issue, then you may have some money backed up for such an issue you could just start using the backup money. However, if it was a time issue and you were on a strict time line you may not have a backup plan. It is at this point you would have to take a corrective action to deal with the problem, if it was an issue with time you may have to hire extra staff so that you can get back on schedule and on time or you may swap resources around to bring people over from another part of the project to complete a different part of the project faster.


Communications

Communication can be a problem for a project since they can be working with people who speak a different language to them and they would need someone else to communicate that information across. Communication can breakdown during the development of the project; the translator might not make it on a particular day and there are no backups for another translator and therefore the project will be slowed down.


Working Within Relevant Guidelines and Legislation

The project manager will need to be able to follow all the project guidelines and legislation. The project manager need to make sure that they follow the legal laws when doing their project and even if the project may break down, the clients and stakeholder are most likely to take legal action for the failed project which will cost a lot of money. There might be other guidelines for the project manager to follow such as Health and Safety, Data Protection Act and the project manager should be prepared to know all the legislation when they are making a project.


Dealing with Conflict

When dealing with conflict in within a project, it means things like time pressures vs work hours pressure. To resolve this, you would need to find the right level of both, so that the work is finished on time and making sure that the work hours are suitable to make sure what needs to be done in that day to make sure that the project is finished on time. You could also make sure than the work hours are not as long by extending the deadline time, giving the staff extra time to finish off the project.


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