ISM/SCM 678 -Project Management: Hints and guidelines for analyzing the cases- Summer 2018
Each of the case assignments provides you with an opportunity to apply what you have learned from the readings, course material, and discussions to real life situations that many project managers face. In general, all project management decisions must deal with many factors such as those related to (1) the organization seeking to undertake the project (for example, overall organizational structure, plans, strategies, goals and objectives), (2) environmental considerations (such as risks and uncertainties, market conditions, weather, regulatory requirements, or available technologies), (3) project timing (for example task start and finish dates, minimum task durations, or deadlines), (4) resource constraints (for example, available person-hours, specific expertise, supplies, or equipment) (5) budget constraints, and (6) specified project related goals and deliverables. One or more of these factors may be relevant considerations depending on the case in question, and they may influence the feasibility of potential alternatives.
You must begin your analysis by providing a background to the problem at hand. There is no need to repeat all the case facts but a short overview of what the case is about. Present your analysis by addressing the questions posed at the end of the case and make appropriate recommendations. Do not number your answers. You should also state clearly any underlying assumptions that impact your analyses. Of course, you cannot assume the problem away. Your grade will be based on the depth of your analysis and ability to move beyond the obvious.
An overview of objectives and considerations for each of the cases is provided below. Note that these descriptions supplement the cases—your analysis must address the specific requirements and questions identified in the case materials. Also remember that these guidelines are just that—guidelines. They are not intended to be either comprehensive or exclusive. They may be helpful to some of you as prompts to spark your own creativity and problem-solving skills as you work through each case.
You should submit all cases through the Assignments folder in Canvas. Please submit your assignments as Word documents. This will allow the instructor to provide feedback inside the document.
Specifics for each case
- MBuilders Company case:
This case deals with the impact of risks and uncertainties on project timing, and on project budget and how to evaluate contingency plans to determine an optimal recommendation. You can use MS Project to prepare your schedules though it is equally easy to do the schedules by hand or even use VISIO or Excel. New users of MS Project may find it helpful to create separate files for each of the four proposals. Your overall goal is to make recommendations based on expected costsand expected profitability of each proposal.
- Use the information in the Appendix to the case to identify the sequencing of tasks as well as any task dependencies for each proposal and prepare your project schedules.
- Think about how each of the uncertain events identified in the case might affect the completion time for the project under each proposal.
- Each of the uncertain events has specific costs and probabilities associated with it. Consider how these will affect the budget (and profitability) associated with each proposal.
- In your narrative analysis, evaluate and compare each of the alternatives with consideration of the occurrence/nonoccurrence of the uncertain events, and specifically address the four questions at end of the case. Use sufficient detail and include calculations to justify and support your recommendation/rejection of each proposal.
- Wherever possible, supplement your narrative with diagrams, charts, or tables to aid management’s understanding of your comparison and conclusions.
- Submit a Word document with the diagrams inserted within the document.
- Grand Auto Case
This is a relatively simple case on project budgeting. The main goal is to find out if the allocated funds for the project will be exceeded or not and also to find out if there are periods when the budgetary allocation will be exceeded and how to address such an occurrence. A word document with all necessary diagrams expected.
- Ridge Antiseptic Case
This case will allow you to apply a great deal of what you have learned in the course in developing a comprehensive project plan while emphasizing how to manage resource constraints. This case will also help solidify some of the skills required to use MS Project effectively. The requirements for this case are clearly spelled out. There are eight items that need to be submitted as part of a project plan. You can embed your diagrams and supporting documents into one complete report that addresses all eight items. Most of the requirements for this case can be done through MS Project or some other project management software.
- One of the key aspects of working through this case is getting the correct task sequence and predecessor identification. You may submit a table in MS Word (only) to Dr. Amoako with your initial outline of each task and the associated predecessor tasks for review prior to starting your analyses. It’s recommended that you take advantage of this offer since all your subsequent analysis will be wrong if your predecessors are incorrect.
- The labeled network diagram, determination of the critical paths and expected durations, and the Gantt Charts can all be created using MS Project. The WBS chart will require other software, such as Visio or Word. Tables are usually easiest to create directly in MS Word.
- For Item 7, you need not consider the various resource leveling rules that were introduced in the textbook. Instead, determine the minimum number of workers from each category needed to meet the original completion date to identify whether the original date is attainable given the current resources budgeted. If not, you can use the “level with slack” option in MS Project and incrementally add resources to determine what is needed to remove all overallocations (Alternative 1). If no additional resources are available, Alternative 2 involves using the “leveling can adjust individual assignments on a task” option in MS Project to determine what the earliest completion time is. Alternatives 1 and 2 are extremes. Is there a middle ground (Alternative 3)?
- Your narrative analysis (preliminary project plan) will incorporate discussion and analysis of each of the 8 case requirements and other information necessary for the executive committee to understand potential risks, resources requirements, how quickly the project can be completed given the current constraints, and any alternative approaches you have identified.
For all cases:
- Put yourself in the shoes of a project manager faced with the question(s) posed in the case. Organize the form and content of your final written analysis as if you were submitting it to your superiors or the person or group identified in the case that is expecting your report/memorandum, for example, address the report or memorandum to the decision maker(s) identified in the case. Each of the cases poses a real business problem—this is your opportunity to practice being a “real” project manager, using professional (not necessarily academic) language and style.
- You can make any assumptions that seem reasonable but clearly state those assumptions as part of your analysis.
- Use a professional and logical format, such as the following:
- Start with a short Executive Summary that recaps the issue your business is facing in the case (no need to repeat all the case facts), the problem(s) management needs to address, and a summary of your recommendations for addressing the problem(s). For example, if the case involves selecting from multiple alternatives, briefly summarize them and identify your recommendation. Also highlight any key issues that should be brought to management’s attention, for example, specific risks or uncertainties that might impact the feasibility of your recommendation or might significantly change the project plan. The Executive Summary should be as short as possible while still providing management with the key messages. Save your supporting arguments and detailed analysis for the main body of the paper. (Note: some people find it easiest to write this section last, as it is basically an overview of the key elements and conclusions in the body of the paper.)
- The main body of your case should present your analysis including explanations, justifications, calculations (if any). This is where you can help management understand what you did to arrive at your recommendations by walking them through your analysis. One way to approach this is to consider what information you would like to have if you were the person in charge of making the relevant decision. Each case may require you to focus on different factors and use a different kind of analysis, depending on the information provided. However, all require some kind of comparative analysis.
- It is often useful to provide tables, charts, diagrams and graphs as a baseline for discussion and to illustrate key points of comparison. These visual aids help management by providing a meaningful and impactful snapshot that succinctly conveys the most important elements of your analysis. You can create tables directly in the document, or use MS Project, Excel, or Visio (or other similar programs) to create objects that can be inserted into the text or to create embedded links to files containing graphical information. Be specific in terms of detailing start dates, projected completion dates, alternative dates, and durations when relevant.
- You should pledge the UNCG Academic Honor code on each assignment. Any evidence of cheating on any assignment will result in the application of the UNCG Honor Code guidelines. I will be using Turnitin to assess whether you copied portions of your submission from past students or other places.
You should write this statement on the assignment and sign it:
“I pledge that I have neither received help from nor given help to anyone on this assignment”.
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