Different project management scholars have different opinions of what it is that actually comprises the process of project management planning. However, of particular interest to the researcher in this case study is an analogy that was given by Lopes Cardozo and DJ de Villiers when they gave the analogy of a story to instantiate the project management planning process (2003, 1).
These scholars indicated that any project plan have a good ending or a bad ending depending on the project management team and the stakeholders just like any story can have a good ending or a bad ending depending on the teller and the audience. In project management planning, the stakeholders’ opinions are the most significant in determining the success or failure of the project plan and outcome. Stakeholders include the customers and the management or executive wing of the organization for whom the project is being undertaken (Brotherton, Fried and Eric, 2008, 8).
Several propositions given by project management scholars on the secret to good projects include the fact that a project plan is not to be treated like a recipe so that one comes up with a set of standards or goals at the onset of the project and then goes on to achieve these systematically to completion. Such an approach shall inevitably lead into one or more of the suicidal landmines that mark the path of project management because such a project manager shall soon be trapped in the clutches of delayed deadlines and underpriced activities among others (Chapman, 2004, 1).
Instead, the project management plan should be a live document that grows in tandem with the project. At the onset, the plan that is sketched out should be just that, a sketch of the estimated parameters of the project in terms of effort and schedule and activities. However, as the project unfolds and the inevitable changes occur as estimates take a more accurate stance and the iterative processes refine the project plan, the plan ought to be updated accordingly to cater for the recorded changes and reflect the current status as well as the short term future of the project.
Such an approach is a two pronged weapon. On one hand, it keeps the stakeholders abreast of the project progress while also demonstrating to them the skills and expertise as well as professionalism of the project management team. On the other hand, it keeps the project management team on constant alert regarding the project developments and stages or phases ( Department of Energy 2001, 3). This means that the team can foresee risks inherent in the chosen business plan and provide for aversion of risk in the iterative process of the appropriate phase thus averting disaster. The team can also foresee a need for funding that may have been left out in the original estimate and provide for it in the next phase’s request for funding and approval from and by stakeholders respectively.
This then means that the project management team ought to establish both the high level project plan, also known as the top down plan, which is less detailed and outlines only the occurrence of major events which can easily be understood by the customers and executive management (stakeholders). Such a top-down plan is effective for granting the stakeholders the necessary status report on the various phases of the project, is a means of seeking their approval to embark on the next proposed phase of the project, and by extension, acts as justification for the funding of that next phase. Therefore, its critical significance cannot be overstated.
The project team’s plan is more detailed and is also known as a bottom-up plan. It contains the nitty gritty of the project processes and is effective for keeping the project team on its toes as the project unfolds. It contains the iterations to the iteration planning,which denotes the breadth of detail that this plan can contain (Egnatchik 2010, 2). If viewed from a three dimensional version, the project team’s detailed plan would be projected as a storeyed plan with close to ten storeys from the foundation to the completion of construction. It is a complex plan and the end results are what is reflected in the primary project plan presented to the stakeholders as truth. Hence the need to be very specific and accurate regarding any projections being made at this level.
The plan of any project is determined by several factors, which have a bearing on the outcome and key among these is the intended desired effect of the outcome on the stakeholders. This means that the project team must have a sitting with the stakeholders to glean their desired end and then set about providing for this goal in the objectives of the plan as well as in customizing the circumstances surrounding the project to suit the desired end. In any project, there are constraints and a solution is reached when the project team exercises expert juggling skills to the point of reaching equilibrium with the preferred solutions that range in depth and magnitude throughout the project.
On the onset of creating a project plan, the project team identifies a constraint or two, which contribute to the pandemonium that is characteristic of the genesis of ay project and the team comes up with a tentative solution based on these limited constraints as the basis for the objectives and proposed solution of the project plan and so forth. However, as the project takes shape, all the constraints that are customary to the circumstances and business environment of the specific project shall take the form as well (Kerzner Harry 1997, 334). As they do, the project team provides for their detailed solution in the bottom up plan and mentions them briefly in the high level business plan.
What is becoming apparent in so far is the emphasis that ought to be laid on the planning process as opposed to the plan itself. The results of a project is a summation of planning in the course of it, and not a reflection of the plan that was launched at the beginning of the project (Kruchten 2002, 10).
The next segment of this paper deals with the specifics of project management planning. It divides the planning process into two large sections: project planning and iterative planning, and gives a detailed account of the sub processes that make up each of these headlines, as well as outlining the relationship between those subprocesses and the justifications for executing them. However, before delving into that succulent part of this study, it is imperative to begin by explaining a few terms that calibrate the rest of the text.
- Objective – Points into the future in reference to a desired condition. Ideally, it should be precise and quantifiable.
- Effort – Refers to the amount of labor requisite for the production of specified dimensions of a product and it is measurable in person-days, months or weeks (Lopes and Villiers 2003, 4).
- Schedule – Refers to the timeframe for production.
- Estimation – Refers to how the team determines the projected amounts effort and schedule necessary for the production of a product.
- Role – Role refers to the projection of the predictable actions of a person or group within the framework of a planned business.
- Activity – Specific allotment of work to be performed by a role.
- Resource – Necessities in the carrying out of the project but which are rare or limited such as licenses, and training (Lopes and Sley 2002, 7).
- Artifact – Tangible results of the activities carried out by the team such as documentation approving a phase, or diagrams or models indicating a complete plan.
- Deliverable – Result or output that is significant to the stakeholder.
- Phase – This refers to the window period demarcated by major milestones within which objectives are met artifacts obtained.
- Iteration – A set timeline marked by parallel or sequential activities performed by various teams to produce a comprehensive part of the product.
Planning refers to the process of reaching equilibrium in terms of establishing the correct balance of variables required to satisfy the project’s constraints. As mentioned above, each intended project projects a number of constraints that give it an appearance of impossibility to succeed at the initial stages. The case becomes the task of the project team to level out the field and/or come up with solutions that restore equilibrium to the situation by satisfying these constraints to the required level without toppling any expectations of ideals in the process. This is difficult since at the very onset the constraints may not even all be visible (Mochal Tom 2009, 3).
However, in drafting the sophisticated map, the project team makes approximations that will likely be stable throughout the implementation of the plan so long as the succeeding detailed map comprising the iteration processes are safely within the limits of the advanced map’s approximations. The high-level estimates include estimations of the budget, the schedule, the effort and the activities.
The project planning phase has several stages namely:
- definition of the project objectives;
- the definition of phases;
- partitioning of the Project effort and schedule across the phases;
- the prioritization of risks;
- the definition of milestones;
- the definition of iterations.
Defining Project Objectives
Project objectives are the definition of the intended achievement of the project. In other words, at the close of the project, what it is that the team would like to have accomplished. It is understood that these achievements or accomplishments ought to be in line with the stakeholders’ requirements. The objectives are best transplanted from the business case. A fraction of the production dilemma seeking resolution constitutes the aims that direct the project group. They define what action is to be taken by the project team as opposed to the reasons or motivations for taking such action. The motivations or justifications for activity are provided for in the business case. Objectives are ideally reasonable, measurable and specific and when outlining them, the first word is a verb.
However, it is noteworthy that objectives alone cannot measure the success of a project and for the task of gauging a project’s success; the Project Acceptance Criteria (PAC) comes in handy (PMBOK 2009, 54). This is especially relevant in assisting the stakeholders’ gauge the project team’s success in complying with the project objectives as well as in preventing oversight of significant matters. In framing the project acceptance criteria, it is wise to use closed questions requiring a yes or no answer.
This caters for the life cycle of the project and is critical because assessing it assists stakeholders in deciding over approving the disbursement of funds for the next phase. Consequently, the project team wants to ensure that each phase is comprehensive and elaborate, not to mention the need for an assessment criterion at the end of a phase to assist the decision makers in assessing credibility. The significance of calibrating each phase cannot be understated because in effect, the end of each phase is marked as a major milestone in the iteration schedule of such a phase. At the completion, the final target is the position where parties agree on whether they want to possess the outcome of the scheme.
This case is usually a guaranteed decision if the project team has kept the stakeholders’ abreast of developments throughout the project and one very effective way of doing so is the phase-by-phase progression and approval. It is also a way of covering the project teams’ back in case of future disowning of the project by the stakeholders after subsequent approvals. The plan may be divided into parallel or overlap, or chronological periods. However, parallel or overlap splitting causes unnecessary difficulties in management that are better avoided. Instead, Sequential phases form the best alternative and each phase ought to be issued with a name fitting of the primary objective in that phase.
The Division of the Scheme’s endeavor and Agenda across Periods
The RUP project management guide offers the heuristics for effort and agenda across the phases.
(Cardozo and Villiers 2003, 9).
These findings are percentages of the total effort and the total schedule already initially estimated for the project. This means that the task of estimating the overall budget, timeframe, effort, and schedule falls on the project team and the team may look into experience or affiliate experience for reference regardless of the allotment aid.
It is crucial to agree on the burn pace, which refers to the exertion required in a week in every stage in order to prevent abrupt amplifications or reduction in recruitment.
Modern project management encourages the application of proactive risk elimination. As the name suggests, this requires the project team to foresee risks and eliminate them before they become actualized. There are several ways of going about this process and the first is to eliminate the high priority risks first and descend according to severity. Another way is to handle the risks on a phase by phase basis, thus tackling objective and feasibility risks at the inception stage and target risks with a bearing on deployment at the transition stage.
However, this second alternative solution is meant for project environment risks. In determining the priority of risk, it is important to first identify the significant risk and then gauge the impact and possibility of each risk, listing them according to severity. The impact of probability on severity should never be underestimated and neither should the weight of team members’ opinions in the matter of identification and significance risk. After the risks have been identified and prioritized, the project objectives ought to be amended to reflect the allowance made by the project team for the resolution of risk within the life of the project.
Definition of Milestones
Milestones offer the temporary gratification that forms the fuel for the efficient and effective execution of any project to completion. They are motivational to both the stakeholders hence loosening their coffers and to the project team as they feel like their effort is bearing fruit. They outline the expectations of both parties and form the objectives that enable assessments at each phase. Consequently, it becomes imperative to describe an assessment criterion for each milestone. For better understanding, milestones denote artifacts, synchronization of activities or delivery of products and they punctuate major decisions.
They provide a platform for the stakeholders to pass judgment over the foregoing phase and issue a stamp of approval as well as the concurrent release of funds to usher in the next phase (Wilson, 1990, 49). The Milestone Exit Criteria (MEC) should feature closed yes or no questions and under no circumstance should they include the state of activities or artifacts. They should simply seek to close the chapter.
Definition of iterations
The purpose of this course of action is to achieve a refinement of the project plan and to usher in the iteration planning stage. Each individual project stage ought to be split into equivalent iterations. Subsequently, for each iteration phase, iteration objectives should be spelt out. The source of these objectives is the phase objectives. However, they should be more specific and should seek to eradicate risks.
Iteration planning the latter part of the project management plan. It is best understood as a sub-level of the project planning, sort of like a plan within a plan. Consequently, it is nothing new, just the meat to the bone that is the skeleton of the project plan. It contains details omitted in the project plan and is therefore, more specific and elaborate as well as has a better and more refined approach to risk elimination. However, the risks are the same ones identified in the above plan, only finer and so there tends to be a similarity in objectives, schedules, and efforts among other variables between the two plans. Towards the close of each the iterations, an iteration plan ought to be created for the next iteration.
Refinement of Iteration Objectives
Iterations are a more current projection of the immediate status of the project and thus the team ought to update the project plan at the close of each of the iterations. However, also at the close of each iteration, it becomes apparent that some issues in the iteration were carried forward and these are handled at the first instance.
Developing a Product Breakdown structure
The emphasis at this stage is the development and refinement of artifacts. It is where the work is done by meeting objectives, mitigating risks, and resolving pending issues. These pending issues are usually the matters that were carried forward from the past iterative phase and they form part of the new phase’s iterative objectives. The artifacts are better produced when grouped by discipline and assigned owners. In short, if for instance there is a document to be obtained, the name of the document, the processes leading to the obtaining of the document and the name of the person in charge of obtaining it shall form the entries into this particular activity (Walker 1998, 23). It is optional to include review dates.
Define Evaluation Criteria
As has become apparent, each process in project planning needs to be evaluated for consistency in the vision of achieving the objectives. With iteration, the crux of evaluation is quality maintenance. Consequently, the measurable variable in the evaluation criterion is the success of the iteration. To achieve this, it is crucial that at the beginning of each iteration, the team begins with the end in mind. They should be fully conscious of what the process ought to yield and work towards that target persistently. The Iteration Evaluation Criterion (IEC) best features closed questions clustered by discipline (West 2002, 78). This evaluation procedure saves on time, resources and enhances learning among the team members of what is required of them, or of the project’s bigger picture.
Define Iteration Milestones
Milestones demarcate significant moments in the project calendar and are handy tools for avoiding delays. They mark handoffs, which are instances of handing over certain artifacts in a particular state to other teams, and synchronization points (Lopes Cardozo and DJ de Villiers 2003, 12). Since iteration is fine grained, milestones need to list all the significant events that occur in the iterations and this means that in most cases, iteration milestones shall be minor milestones.
Develop a Work Breakdown Structure
There ought to be three levels on this, namely the iteration, the discipline (Iteration objectives, risks, open issues carried forward, and artifacts), and the appropriate list of activities necessary to accomplish all these as the third level.
Creating a Genealogical Library Management System at the Orange County
The Orange County is home to more than ten wards and branches of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints hereinafter referred to as the LDS. A major project of the church throughout the localities of its wards and branches has been the advancement of its Family History Program. Latter Day Saints throughout the world believe in collecting the names of their ancestors so that they can do baptisms by proxy for them in their temples. Consequently, most LDS churches and temples have an inbuilt family history segment complete with the IT and human resources support system provided by members on callings and volunteer basis. However, it has come to the attention of many non-LDS civilians that doing genealogy is an exciting hobby.
This has spurred the widespread collection of ancestral data by many families and often, the collectors fear that the data they have so painstakingly gathered shall be lost if not well preserved. The LDS have a historical archive that is open to members of the public seeking to store up their ancestral data for their future generations’ benefit. This includes non-LDS members. However, since many non-LDS are unaware of this service, many may yet not know how to safely store up their historical data in a library (Ward and Peppard 2002). Therefore, the LDS church has commissioned projects across Dubai working in conjunction with county libraries to create a genealogical library system to spread awareness of the same throughout the county.
This project plan has been created for the Church of Jesus Christ of latter Days (represented by Jeffrey R. Holland, an apostle in the church) and the Orange County Library Facility (represented by Gina smith, the library Director). Mr. Holland and Mrs. Smith have hired the Elaw Solutions Providers Firm to design and execute a project to create a genealogical library system in Orange County and spread awareness of the same to the county residents within eight months. Elaw Solutions Providers is a limited liability partnership firm that is jointly owned by Jeremy Schwartz and Ishmael Abdi. It has been in existence for the past five years and has been instrumental for the execution of a comprehensive array of ‘soft’ projects all over Orange County.
This project is being undertaken to establish a genealogical library system in Orange County. The library has provided its East wing to serve as the genealogical library system’s headquarters and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is providing funding for remodeling and redecoration, hiring of maintenance personnel, as well as launching an awareness campaign in Orange County to sensitize the public on the new archive at their disposal. The project is to commence on Monday, January 02, 2013 and will complete no later than Monday August 4 2014. The closing date is set to concur with the scheduled worldwide Mormon Helping hands event, which shall have the theme of family history work.
The purpose of this stage is to reach a common understanding of the scope, estimates, risk, and plan of the project with all the stakeholders.
|Jeffrey Holland||Investor||External||Client||+962 78 8907654|
|Gina Smith||Investor||External||Client||+962 65 9870653|
|Student||PM Partner||Internal||Team member||+962 34 5643278|
|Student||PM Partner||Internal||Team Member||+962 74 8795630|
Table 1: Key Stakeholders.
This formally recognizes the existence of the research project.
|Project Title||Project Management Plan for Creating a Genealogical Library system at the Orange County|
|Project Start Date||January 02, 2013||Project Finish Date||August 04, 2014|
|Basic Information||The budget allocated for this project by the LDS Church is $ 1,350,000 |
The OC Library has provided the East Wing
|Project Objective||Set up a genealogical library system for use by OC residents and spread awareness of the same in the Orange County|
|Approach||Elaw Solutions Providers Firm has opted to use the bottom up approach to remodel and redecorate the East Wing, recruit and orient library system maintenance staff, and execute an awareness campaign on the genealogical archive in the Orange County|
Table 2: Project Charter.
Roles and Responsibilities
|Roles and Responsibilities|
|Student||Team Member||PM Director|
Table 3: Roles and Responsibilities.
|Incomplete social and cultural environmental analysis||Low||Very high|
|New stakeholders arising and raising changes to plan||High||Very high|
|Design changes ad errors||Low||High|
|Delay in delivery||Low||Very high|
Table 4: Potential Risks.
Kick Off Meeting
This meeting was held on 20th October 2013 and chaired by the project manager. All the major stakeholders were represented, with the agenda being as indicated below.
The objective was to get every one of the same page by introducing all the stakeholders and their claims, assessing their desired goal and presenting what the Project manager understands of the same, and discussing the nature of future relations.
- Introduction of attendees.
- Review of the project background.
- Review of the project related document.
- Discussion of the project scope, time and cost objectives.
- Discussion of other important topics.
- List of action item from meeting.
|Action Items||Assigned to||Due date|
| ||Student name||December 2 2013|
| ||Student Name||January 20 2014|
|Date and Time of Next Meeting|
|January 15 2014|
Table 5: Kickoff Meeting.
Project Scope Statement
This statement includes the purpose of the project, scope, milestones, approach, assumptions, and constraints.
Setting up an Orange County based genealogical library system by remodeling and refurbishing the East Wing of the OC Library block, recruiting and orienting new maintenance staff for the library system, and executing an awareness campaign in the Orange County to sensitize the public on the new development to be scheduled for completion on August 04, 2014.
The contract is estimated to be at $2, 350, 000
- The Scope of the project includes.
- Remodeling of the East Wing of the OC Library Block.
- Redecoration of the East Wing of the OC Library Block.
- Recruitment of new staff to maintain the block.
- Orientation of the new staff to their respective duties and use of the provided software systems.
- Organizing an awareness campaign aimed at sensitizing the OC residents.
The project is intended to run for eight months spanning early January to early August 2014. Project Milestones according to the high-level project plan (top down) are as follows:
|Milestone||Scheduled Completion Date|
|Kick off Meeting||20thOctober 2013|
|Scope Management Plan||2ndDecember 2013|
|Schedule||4 February 2014|
|Cost Estimation and Resources Assignment||8thFebruary 2014|
|Recruitment of Maintenance Staff||5th April 2014|
|Orientation of Maintenance Staff||10thMay 2014|
|Creation of an Awareness Campaign Schedule||4thApril 2014|
|Launching Awareness Campaigns||30thJuly 2014|
|Handing Over||4thAugust 2014|
Table 6: Milestones Schedule.
- There shall be no anti-Mormon campaigns causing social strife during the project.
- Prices of materials shall not escalate during the project.
- Necessary funding shall be disbursed in a timely manner to allow timely obtaining of resources.
- Necessary resources are stocked at the respective sources.
- The date of completion is fixed in line with the LDS calendar of Mormon Helping Hands.
- Most of the noisy remodeling work has to be executed after office hours to maintain the serenity of the library atmosphere.
- Majority of the team is inexperienced in working with religious clients.
- The LDS church already has a working software system and design that it wants replicated in the project and so the team shall have to learn it, implement it, and then teach it to the new staff.
- Incentive approved for early delivery set at 15% of the contract value and penalty for late delivery set at 10% of the contract value.
- The LDS have a strict Sabbath policy that means the project cannot be carried out on Sundays and this reduces the available time.
Planning and Execution
Project Management Plan
This section discloses the plan for managing the project in its life cycle.
- Get the LDS Church and the OC Library representatives to agree to the proposed milestones that depict the scope of the project.
- Refine the estimates on time, cost, and labor based on experiences encountered pre-iteration.
- Identify and prioritize risks.
- Update the project plan to reflect the various changes encountered while iterating inception.
Iteration Objectives (I):
- Establish a skeleton solution to the diverse complex and risky elements of the project.
- Eliminate the highest priority technical risks.
- Ensure that the team is well versed with the processes and tools.
- Ensure that the project development and test environments do not vary.
Iteration Objectives (II):
- Develop a more comprehensive skeleton solution for risky bits of the project.
- Eliminate all know significant risks.
- Come up with a detailed plan for the rest of the project now that the risks are negligible.
Iteration Objectives (I):
- Execute 80 percent of the project as fast as possible with an eye for reasonable quality.
- Reduce on the costs by maximizing on the schedule and resources.
Iteration Objective (II):
- Execute 100 percent of the objectives.
- Obtain an acceptable quality for the completed work.
- Prepare for handing over to the end user and support teams.
- Minimize costs by maximizing on schedule and resources.
- Improve on the quality of the end product.
- Ensure that the successors are well versed with the new system.
- Ensure that the support group can indeed discharge support services.
- Close out the project.
- An Issue Report Form to be used to report issues – descriptions, owner, resolution, and status.
- Issues addressed to the project manager and addressed in the project weekly status report.
- There shall be a change log lodged with the Elaw Solutions Provider Firm to track changes in the project.
- Registered change order form contents shall be assessed for alternatives and costs.
- The log shall be updated to reflect the status of the changes.
- Project status shall be communicated to the client on a weekly basis meaning on Fridays at 5.00pm.
- Communication can take any form including face to face interactions, telephones, emails, or videoconferencing options.
- In case of emergencies and modifications, the client shall be notified forthwith and consultative meetings scheduled pronto.
Work Breakdown Structure
The bottom-up approach was used and so only a segment of the ABS shall be presented herein.
The duration for the project is planned to be 240 days. The project shall be active during weekends on Saturday but not on Sunday due to time and religious constraints.
Project Cost Estimation
|Summary of Cost Estimation|
|Description||Percentage of Total Cost||Cost|
|Hire and Orientation||5%||$117500|
Immediately after the execution of the final milestone event, which is handing over the new genealogical library system to the hired staff and the LDS Church and OC Library representatives and getting their approval, the project team shall move to close the project.
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