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SNHU - IT-625 - Information Technology Project and Team Management
Written by: Chris Bell - June, 2016


Project Status, Analysis, Forecasting & Corrective Actions | Project Management



Project Status, Analysis, Forecasting & Corrective Actions

The project evaluation for the Medical Informatics database will include analysis on scope creep and budget, forecasting and timelines, previous predecessor updates, and corrective actions to get the project back on course if needed. It doesn't take a massive problem to trickle through the rest of the timeline of the project. It's important to watch predecessors carefully because they determine the end point of the project.

Status Evaluation


After making a few changes to the MS Project Initiation, Planning and Communication sections I have successfully brought the timeline back on schedule. There were only a few changes made to the schedule affecting the IS manager and Project Manager. This is considered a corrective action to the previous events that took more time than anticipated. This is the first change I've made as project manager and did so without changing any of the completion dates or scheduled meetings after the project Kickoff. The team has been flustered due to the previous project manager leaving and being introduced to another PM, but I've done the best I can to make each of them feel comfortable about their portions of the project along with the completion date. The team is now focused and ready to continue with management's support.

Project Status - Microsoft Project (Before



Project Status - Microsoft Project (After)


Again, predecessors are the main concern to keep a project on time and on budget. As you can see in the Gantt chart, additional predecessors were adding to show a clean transition point in the line graph to the right. It's my job to be on top of the task preceding the predecessor because each predecessor puts up a barrier on the project until it's complete.

Project Analysis


The biggest problem I see with the project is scheduling. The previous PM didn't make good use of predecessors or setting up the next task directly after the predecessor, nor did he or she schedule each employee (resource) in an effective way to keep the project moving between each task. I will set up meetings with each of the resources involved to reschedule their time to best fit the project. I will encourage them to be prepared to start their tasks directly after the previous tasks are complete.

The significance of baseline directly relates to scope creep because any variance to the baseline objectives affect the scope creep and budget. Scope creep is most prevalent in IT projects because there's always a little something more that can make a system seem better to the developer, but may not be necessary for the customer. These small additions add up and affect the time line and budget. I will be sure to watch each resource complete their task, and only that task, closely until the project moves back on track.

Even though I've moved the project back on track according to the MS Project timeline, the estimated cost remained the same. I've changed the schedules to start each task directly after its predecessor so that the project moves quickly from task to task, however the total hours spent on resources hasn't changed. I can't force employees to work faster or it could affect the quality along with later tasks associated with poor quality. However, as long as we stay on time, we'll stay on budget, so the actual costs should still equal the estimated costs (aside from the 20% overage from the previous PM). I plan to make sure my resources stay on task and avoid scope creep.

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The previous PM should have been more familiar with MS Project and used it to its fullest extent. Companies are starting to expect that new employees already understand basic computer languages such as Microsoft Office software and specifically MS Project for all project managers. Many potential employers expect that newly hired students will arrive on-the-job with the ability to analyze data, utilize spreadsheets, and communicate findings and recommendations. "A survey of students that have completed the exercise indicates that their knowledge level of the tools used in the project increased significantly from before to after they completed the case (Kroes, 2013)."

Forcasting


Some of the previous problems weren't due to the previous PM, such as the fact that the IS manager is working with code that they don't understand, so I will incorporate training for those folks during times that they can't work on a task. For example, the snapshot above shows that the Project Manager will have a lot of work to do during the Approvals and Communication areas before Kickoff, so I will send our IT manager to an offsite training facility. That should make future tasks in that area much smoother, and if not, we'll send him or her for additional training.

The projected end date of the project is important to management, so we're working to get back on track. I feel confident that I will be able to maneuver schedules around to move in the total timeline, however I want to get it back on track before changing anyone scheduled meetings. There is no cost variance yet, but again, I feel confident that it will be lowered hopefully below budget, if not on budget. Quality relates to cost benefit analysis as well. "A cost benefit analysis is a project planning method that involves making lists of the costs and benefits related to a certain project, attributing values to those costs and benefits, and then comparing the total expected benefit with other projects (Hamel, n.d.)."


Unfortunately, I've been playing catch up as the new PM and wasn't able to start this particular project myself. I've been assessing the history of this project in order to tailor it to my standards. As I already mentioned, predecessors are my main concern because the completion date of the project is most important to the stakeholders. Along with being on time, the budget needs to decrease back to the baseline because we're currently over budget to the maximum allowable overage. If the budget goes over by much more we could see bigger issues than being on time. I'm not giving up on this project yet, even though it wasn't mine to start with, because I want to make a good impression of myself as someone that works hard on any task given to me regardless of its history.

The previous project manager should've made better use of MS Project software to schedule each task and predecessor more carefully. I already made changes to the schedule that cut the timeline for the Kickoff almost in half. The history of this project manager, strategies and past deliverables show that the project is at risk of being canceled. The fact that they chose to use software that they didn't understand, along with not using MS Project correctly shows that it could be difficult to bring it back on track.

Corrective Actions


Corrective actions include predecessors, scheduled meetings, training for unknown software, and closely managed (or even micro-managed) resources. I will reset the predecessors and meet with the resources to let them know about the new dates. I will schedule new meeting dates with stakeholders to update them with the project status. I will set up training sessions for the IS resources to learn the software and to better understand it. Finally, I will closely watch each of the resources as they complete their tasks to be sure they don't let scope creep take over their task. We'll focus on deliverables and quality without letting employees run off on tangents or try to glorify something that doesn't require glorifying.

Corrective actions go hand-in-hand with preventative measures and risk management, but focus on solving problems before they happen. For example, the previous PM should have set up training sessions for the IS manager and his or her staff from the beginning. Scheduling large projects require careful planning and it seems as though this project did not start with careful planning. Investopedia explains risk management as, "Risk management is the process of identification, analysis and either acceptance or mitigation of uncertainty in investment decision-making." It happens before the project starts, not after it's in motion. In fact, it's the first thing I did upon taking on the project, On must ask, what are the current risks of this project failing and how can they be overcome?


References:


Kroes, J. R., Chen, Y., & Mangiameli, P. (2013). Improving students' data analysis and presentation skills: The ocean state circuits, inc. forecasting project. Decision Sciences Journal of Innovative Education, 11(2), 165-174.

Hamel, Gregory (n.d.). What is Project Forecasting?. Retrieved from:
http://smallbusiness.chron.com/project-forecasting-36758.html

Investopedia.com (n.d.). Risk Management. Retrieved from:
http://www.investopedia.com/terms/r/riskmanagement.asp