LEARNING OUTCOMES OF MODULE ? outcomes 1, 2, 3 and 5 are assessed in this assignment
The assignment, which is to be done individually, is in two parts.
Part 1 requires you to apply your knowledge from the lecture material and from your background reading to write an essay answering questions based on the case study. All parts must be illustrated by reference to project management literature. You are expected to show evidence of having consulted the recommended text book for the module and at least five other recent sources. A reference list must be included.
Part 2 requires you to plan and present a report on the project based on the scheduling and resourcing data provided.
Part 1 carries 40% and Part 2 carries 60% of the assignment. Combined Part 1 and 2 represent 50% of total marks for module.
Provenance Insurance Brokers
Provenance is a medium-sized insurance broking company operating in the three insurance areas of Motor, Home Contents and Life. The company, which occupies three stories of a multi-story building, is organised along departmental lines. The board of management comprises the founder and Managing Director, Mr S. A. Mistry, the senior accountant, and the managers of the three separate insurance areas referred to above.
A considerable amount of business is done through the telephone – operators access manual files and are able to give immediate quotations to 25% of enquiries. However, there have been several recent indications that their information systems are inadequate (e.g. inconsistent quotations and inadequate speed of retrieval of information). The manager in the Motor office Ms Jones wants to increase the rate of instant telephone quotations as she feels that this will result in more business. She feels that the company could share information across the three insurance areas in order to help them market their policies. They are managed largely as three separate offices at present and she feels that the company should introduce a computer information system. The managers in the other two offices also want to be able to respond more quickly to customer enquiries and to investigate complaints. Complaints have increased in recent months in all offices particularly in the very competitive ?home contents? office.
The Home Contents Office – a new computer system
The manager of the ?Home Contents? office, Don Howe, has some very basic computer knowledge but, unlike the other managers, is aware of the fact that Provenance has fallen behind its competitors in the use of Information Technology. He is a powerful personality and has recently managed to persuade the Managing Director, Mr Mistry, in a hasty conversation in between meetings, that a new computer information system was needed and that he, Don Howe, should take on the full responsibility of managing this development. It was a major decision for the company and yet one that was made very quickly ? Mr Howe had talked about the potential for integration across the departments. Mr Mistry had asked how much such a system might cost and Mr Howe, who tried to appear knowledgeable in this area, had to think of a figure on the spur of the moment and said that ?90,000 should be adequate. Mr Mistry felt that this was a reasonable cost, given the many benefits that Mr Howe had listed and he gave him permission to proceed.
Despite the fact that this is a totally new area, Mr Howe is confident that he can do this extra work as well as his existing work. The other managers have deliberately not been consulted at this stage, as Mr Howe feels that this might slow down developments.
Award of contract
After interviewing three computer companies Mr Howe awarded the contract of developing and installing the computer system to a small, recently formed software development company A&K Technics. They were 30% cheaper than the other two companies in their bid for the contract and well within the ?90,000 he has earmarked for the project. Prior to forming A&K Technics, Mr Mike Smith had two years experience of working as a member of a team, developing Computer Based Learning software for the Higher Education market.
Mr Howe?s main priority at this stage was his own office – ?Home Contents?. He wanted the system to be completely installed by October 2012, the peak claims period in his office, and at minimum cost as this would impress Mr Mistry. In order to get the contract A&K Technics verbally agreed to this deadline and gave a vague promise that the system could probably be installed in a long weekend at the end of October 2012. The requirements of the new system have been explained by Mr Howe to Mr Smith verbally over the telephone and have been agreed verbally but nothing has been written down.
Roles and Responsibilities
Mr Howe gave Mr Smith responsibility for managing this contract – his first position of responsibility. Mr Smith is technically very competent and impresses Don Howe immediately. In fact Mr Howe ends up leaving Mr Smith to make all decisions since he, Mr Howe has no time, given his other responsibilities. The arrangement is that Mr Howe will only become involved if there are problems.
Mike Smith and his three assistants spend two weeks with staff in the ?Home Contents? office, collecting information, interviewing staff, carrying out some detailed design and programming of the system. Regarding the project team, there was some disagreement initially on working methods and procedures but Mr Smith reminded the team members that he was in charge and that he was not prepared to have any dissension at any time, otherwise they could leave the team. This seems to have resulted in total conformity so far.
Motor and Life Offices
At a progress meeting initiated by Mr Smith, Mr Howe mentions that the proposed system will also need to be used by the other two offices. Mr. Smith is very surprised at this and advises Mr Howe that he thought the project was confined to the ?Home Contents? office. Mr Howe assures him that this should not be a problem as they will probably have similar requirements, and furthermore that perhaps it might be best to computerise the other offices after the ?Home Contents? has been successfully implemented and installed. He hinted at the reason for not involving the other managers so far in that this would involve disagreements and long drawn-out discussions, possibly delaying the start of the project. Also they would probably object to Mr Howe as project manager!
Mr Howe is prepared to allow Mike Smith to decide the best way to resolve this difficulty. Mr Smith suggests that the first thing that needs to be done is to seek a meeting with the other managers as soon as possible.
Different Project Requirements
The ?Life? and ?Motor? managers are extremely surprised and angry at the fact that they have not been consulted to-date and are not inclined to be co-operative, suspecting Don Howe?s motives. They assure Mike Smith that although they have some similarities their offices have very different information requirements. They are particularly concerned at the mention of an October 2012 deadline, which does not suit their offices.
PART I (40% of marks for assignment 1)
In each of the questions below your answers must not exceed 500 words.
1. ?The major reason for many project problems is due to a failure to adequately define the project??. Discuss the relevance of this statement and relate this to the Provenance case study above.
2. As a result of dissatisfaction expressed by the Life and Motor managers with the way the project has been handled, Mr Mistry, the Managing Director, is persuaded that they should make a fresh start. Comment on the way the project was run and present a way forward in terms of a series of steps that need to be taken within a suggested timeframe.
PART 2 (60% of marks for assignment 1)
Assume that the project has finally been approved subject to final Board approval. The following tasks have been identified, along with precedence, durations and staffing details for each task:
ID Tasks Duration Resources
A Go ahead 3 hours 4 managers
B Conduct interviews 7 days 1 Systems Analyst and 1 Junior Analyst
C Investigate other systems 3 days 1 Systems Analyst and 1 Jounior Analyst
D Analyse Requirements 3 days 1 Systems Analyst
E Staff Meeting to review progress 1 day 1 Systems Analyst and 3 Junior Analysts
F Investigate packages 8 days 3 Junior Analysts
G Investigate Hardware 6 days 2 Systems Engineers
H Presentation to Senior Management 1 day Systems Analyst
I Produce Report 4 days Systems Analyst
J Produce Board Paper 3 days Systems Analyst
K Final Consultation 1 day MD and Systems Analyst
L Board Meeting 3 hours MD and 4 managers
Note the following:
1. All tasks must await the Go ahead
2. The requirements analysis and the packages and hardware investigations cannot start until interviews are conducted and other systems have been investigated
3. Requirements analysis, investigation of packages and investigation of hardware can all be carried out at the same time.
4. If possible, the interviews can take place at the same time other systems are investigated.
5. Producing the report can not start until analysis of requirements, investigation of packages and investigation of hardware have been completed
6. Once the requirements are analysed and the package and hardware investigations are finished, the staff meeting to review progress can take place, followed by the presentation to senior management
7. The staffing costs for each of the categories of staff is as follows:
MD ?100 per hour
Managers: ?70 per hour
Systems Analyst: ?60 per hour
Junior Analyst: ?30 per hour
Systems Engineer ?60 per hour
Equipment and software
cost to hire ?100 per week
Assume a start date of January 7th 2013
You should avoid making assumptions without checking them. If you have an assumption/question, you should email the module leader for clarification. Answers to questions will appear on Blackboard and will become part of the question, so you are advised to check all the assumptions before you hand in your work.
The last questions to be answered on Blackboard will be a week before the deadline.
Questions that have been answered before will be ignored, so please ensure you consult Blackboard before you fire off a question.
For the tasks below you are asked to assume you are the Project Manager, reporting to Senior Management that are relatively new to project management terminology. You may wish to use the reporting functionality provided by MS Project.
Write a report containing your proposed plan.
Your report should contain
1. A narrative explaining your plan and your costings to senior management. You should use clear diagrams based on software, such as MS Project, to illustrate your schedule. You should make sure you explain the meaning of any terms mentioned in the report.
2. Doubt has been raised about the accuracy of the project?s estimates. As a consequence the Board has asked you to include in your report an explanation of what would happen if the interviews require 4 more days and the hardware investigation 2 more days
3. There is also a chance that only one system analyst will be available for this part of the project, so the Board has also asked that you present a second plan that requires the services of just one system analyst
4. Write an invitation to the Managing Director inviting him to the final meeting. Place this invitation in an appendix of your report.
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