SIM 335 Project Management

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SIM 335: Managing Projects


1 . What are the core principles/characteristics of any project  and why are they important?

Like most organizational effort, the major goal of a project is to satisfy a customer’s  need. Beyond this fundamental similarity, the characteristics of a project help differentiate it from other endeavors of the organization. The major characteristics of a project are as follows:

First, projects have a defined objective – whether it is constructing a 12- story apartment complex by January 1 or releasing version 2.0 of a specific software package as quickly as possible. This singular purpose is often lacking in daily organizational life in which workers perform repetitive operations each day.

Second, because there is a specified objective, projects have a defined endpoint, which is contrary to the ongoing duties and responsibilities of traditional jobs. In many cases, individuals move from one project to the next as opposed to staying in one job. After helping to install a security system, an IT engineer may be assigned to develop a database for a different client.

Third, unlike much organizational work that is segmented according to functional specialty, projects typically require the combined efforts of a variety of specialists. Instead of working in separate offices under separate managers, project participants, whether they be engineers, financial analysts, marketing professionals, or quality control specialists, work closely together under the guidance of a project manager to complete a project.

The fourth characteristic of a project is that it is nonroutine and has some unique elements. This is not an either/or issue but a matter of degree. Obviously, accomplishing something that has never been done before, such as building a hybrid (electric/gas) automobile or landing two mechanical rovers on Mars, requires solving previously unsolved problems and breakthrough technology. On the other hand, even basic construction projects that involve established sets of routines and procedures require some degree of customization that makes them unique.

Finally, specific time, cost, and performance requirements bind projects. Projects are evaluated according to accomplishment, cost, and time spent. These triple constraints impose a higher degree of accountability than you typically find in most jobs. These three also highlight one of the primary functions of project management, which is balancing the trade-offs between time, cost, and performance while ultimately satisfying the customer.

2 . How would you have defined the scope of the project in the Task 2; case study (Concrete Masonry Corporation).

Project scope definition is a document that will be published and used by the project owner and project participants for planning and measuring project success. Scope describes what the company expects to deliver to its customer when the project is complete. Project scope should define the results to be achieved in specific, tangible, and measurable terms.

The project scope should be developed under the direction of the project manager and customer. The project manager is responsible for seeing that there is agreement with the owner on project objectives, deliverables at each stage of the project, technical requirements, and so forth. For example, a deliverable in the early stage might be specifications; for the second stage, three prototypes for production; for the third, a sufficient quantity to introduce to market; and finally, marketing promotion and training.

In case of Concrete Masonry Corporation (CMC), defining the project scope sets the stage for developing a project plan. Project scope is a definition of the end result or mission of the project – a product or service for CMC’s client/customer. The primary purpose is to define as clearly as possible the deliverable(s) for the end user and to focus project plans. As fundamental and essential as scope definition appears, it is frequently overlooked by project leaders of well-managed, large corporations.

3 . Using the information below, plot out a full project Gantt chart and identify the critical path? How many days does it take to complete the project? What are the benefits of using a Gantt chart?

Gantt charts were developed by mechanical engineer, Henry Laurence Gantt in the early 20th century as a visual tool to show scheduled and actual progress of projects. Although commonplace, today the Gantt chart was fundamental change in the way projects were managed at the time. Gantt charts were first used on high profile construction projects. In case of CMC, the Gantt chart for project is shown below.

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