CS5514 Systems Project Management Re-assessment 2019 (Coursework-based)
This assessment consists of one question with THREE parts. Answer all THREE parts. The assessment should comprise approx. 2000 words in total. In your answers to each of the three parts, please write properly structured sentences and paragraphs with diagrams where appropriate. Also, please ensure that your answers are clear and relevant to the question being asked. No credit will be given for material that is irrelevant to the question or its relevance unclear.
“Planning any IT project is a guarantee of success”. Discuss this statement, looking at each side of the argument (i.e., both the value and potential risks of planning).
[approx. 600 words; PART A is worth 30% of the overall marks]
Discuss the relevance of the following two topics to IT Project Management:
Please note: the question does not ask for a description of the topics only. It asks for you to discuss the relevance of the two topics listed to IT Project Management. Include only a brief 75 word description of each topic. You may include diagrams in your answer. [approx. 800 words (400 words per topic); PART B is worth 40% of the overall marks]
With the use of diagrams, describe Tuckman’s Theory of groups from the perspective of the project manager and the individual team members.
[approx. 300 words]
Why do you think considering group theory is important in IT project management?
[approx. 300 words]
PART C is worth 30% of the marks
“Planning an IT project is a guarantee of success” is the statement that shows planning is essential in every project to complete the project of the organization. Planning is considered as a key to the success of any IT project because avoiding the planning process of the project can cause failure (Tarhini, Ammar, Tarhini & Masa’deh, 2015). Planning refers to the process of making plans for the project to obtain the desired goals. The project leader or the other members gain a deep understanding of the things related to the project during the process of planning. Planning helps in providing a framework for the project team to quickly achieve their project goal. Planning in a project used by the project leader to recognize certain duration of the project to complete within the set budget and resources.
The planning process consists of both benefits and risks in the IT project. The IT project manager may fail to realize the actual value of planning in terms of saving money, time as well as a resource if he ignores the project planning process. Planning any IT project helps in allocating the right people in the right place with assigning resources to do the tasks. Planning is considered as a cornerstone of any IT project, and thus, it is a dominant activity within the context of the project (Urbański, Haque & Oino, 2019). Therefore, planning is intrinsically significant to the success of the project. Planning has the greatest impact on the perceived value of the project and is treated as the norm in the information technology projects. Project success includes project efficiency as well as the overall project success and planning is closely associated with project success.
Besides this, there are various risks of planning in the project. Inadequate or inappropriate planning may cause several risks to the project of the firm such as schedule risk, cost risk or performance risk. Cost risk can arise in the project due to the inaccuracy of the estimated project cost, which creates a loss of money. Schedule risk is the risk that causes the use of a longer period than estimated for completing the project. Performance risk represents that the project fails to meet the desired goals of the company. Lack of human resources, lack of availability of required tools, data or technologies, late delivery of essential software or hardware, delay in giving training to the personnel and changes to the designing of the project are some of the risks connected with planning (Elzamly, Hussin, Naser & Doheir, 2015). Therefore, it can be argued that planning possesses both risks and values to an IT project.
Despite having multiple risks, it can be said that planning is compulsory as well as crucial in IT project. Planning can help the IT project managers in overcoming the various challenges faced during the execution of the project. The planning process helps the manager of IT project in making a clear and single assumption when integrating hardware, software and networks to the system of the organization (Kopf, Schlesinger, Peters & Lanza, 2016). Moreover, the IT project manager can meet the timelines of the project, even if there is a rapid change in technology, with the help of the planning stage. It can also be argued that risks of planning can be mitigated by taking certain steps, but the planning process should not be ignored by the project manager while executing an IT project. The IT project manager is responsible for handling database storage, software integration, system management and potential security of the relevant data.
The Bathtub Curve
The Bathtub curve is used normally in reliability engineering and determines the various forms of the hazard function. The hazard function comprises of three portions such as early failure, random failure and wear-out failure. It refers to a kind of model that demonstrates the likely failure rates of products and technologies (Miao et al., 2016). The three segments of the Bathtub curve looks like a bathtub with a flat bottom and two steep edges. The key function of the curve represents the likelihood of the initial failure with technologies or products.
The Bathtub curve is highly connected to the IT project management as it depicts the reliability of hardware as well as software of the system. IT projects are involves managing of hardware and software in the existing system of the project and storage of database in the management, and thus, the project is related to technologies. The hardware reliability enhances over time and remains consistent until the end of the project, when the elements start to wear out. Software reliability enhances overtime but faces periodic downturn due to viruses and complexity in upgrading new systems. Software reliability can be defined as the possibility of failure of free software procedure for a specific time in a particular situation. Reliability of software seems to be hard to achieve because of the high complexity of software. The failure of software may be caused due to misinterpretation, ambiguities and errors, whereas hardware failure may be caused due to a fault in physical elements.
IT project is connected to the hardware and software, and it is required to maintain high-quality technological systems for accomplishing the technological goals. The bathtub curve for hardware reliability highlights the burn-in phase, useful life phase and wear out phase (Pavlov, Iliev, Rahnev & Kyurkchiev, 2018). While software reliability does not contain an increasing failure rate like hardware as depicted in the bathtub curve. In the last stage of the curve, the software has obsolescence and no change to the system. Another point is that at the useful life stage of the curve, a drastic increase in the rate of failure will be experienced by software in comparison to hardware. Therefore, the bathtub curve is used by the project manager in the execution of IT project for evaluating the reliability of both hardware and software in the existing system of the company. The software reliability cannot be improved if the IT project manager uses identical elements of software for the system.
Figure: The Bathtub Curve for software reliability
(Source: Cook, 2018)
Brooks' Law is one of the principles of software development which states that when an individual is added to the project group, and the project is already late then, the duration of the project is longer instead of shorter (Brooks, 2018). The law was coined by Fred Brooks in 1975 in the book named ‘The Mythical Man-Month.’ There are two key reasons for which Brooks' Law can be applied, such as ramp-up time in which new project members improve productivity and increase in the communication channels.
Information technology projects are usually complex and highly depends on effective communication between team members. The law assumed that an adding of a new person to the project might not effectively contribute to the achievement of the project goals and also increase time along with effort on communication. Therefore, it will decrease the estimated time of the project and reduce the efficiency of the skilled members in the process of development. IT project managers need the members to communicate effectively with each other to perform their technological tasks successfully. Brooks’ Law has introduced a formula that measures the volume of communication within the IT project team. The number of channels of communication within the team of IT project can be measured with the use of Group intercommunication formula of Brooks (Trantidou et al., 2017).
It is argued that complexity in software development projects can increase the maximum size of the team and thus, minimize the productivity of software development. Therefore, the IT project manager should apply Brooks' law in project management to eliminate the complexity of IT projects in order to enhance the productivity of technological systems. It is beneficial to have small as well as the sharp team for the information technology projects to reduce the complexities of the project such as the size of the project, logical complexity or complexion in the interfaces. The fact on which Brooks’ Law is based that communication overhead is the vital factor on the IT projects and the tasks are not easily divided. The author argues that when new personnel are brought into an already late project, then they are not able to be immediately productive. The new staffs need to be trained, and thus, the existing staffs lose their mush effort in giving training to them. Hence, Brooks' law is closely associated with IT project management.
Figure: Application of Brooks’ Law in communication
(Source: Virapongse et al., 2016)
Bruce Tuckman has created a theory of groups to provide theories for developing a project team as well as analyzing team behavior. The theory consists of five stages of development which are as follows –
Forming: From the perspective of project manager and individual team members, at this stage, the project manager has to provide clear direction to the team members and the group explore their skills to fit into the project (Raes, Kyndt, Decuyper, Van den Bossche & Dochy, 2015).
Storming: As per the perspective of team members, they are trying to determine the ways of working together effectively and resolve the difference between each other. At this stage, the project manager helps the team in understanding each other’s opinion as well as bring unique ideas to the project. From the project manager’s point of view, storming is an effective stage to bring together the entire team to achieve IT goals (Conforto, Amaral, da Silva, Di Felippo & Kamikawachi, 2016).
Norming: At this stage, the project manager did not involve in the decision-making process and problem-solving issues because the team members are ready to work together and can solve the issues. The project manager of IT project ensures that team resolves conflicts quickly and work collaboratively with each other.
Performing: At this stage of Tuckman theory, the team members perform at a high level and focus on achieving the goals of the project. The project manager acts a gateway between the entire team and shareholders as well as help them in getting the decision made (Pons & Haefele, 2016). As per the team members, they are interdependent and can solve any project issues on their own and need not depend on the project manager.
Adjourning: At this stage, the team members feel like a loser and thought that they have to learn again, but the project manager organize a small gathering for them to celebrate the success of the project.
Figure: Tuckman’s Theory of Development
(Source: Natvig & Stark, 2016)
Importance of group theory for IT project management
IT project management refers to the application of multiple technical knowledge, skills, tools and other techniques in the activities of the project to meet the needs of the IT project (Hornstein, 2015). It is essential to consider group theory in IT project management because of several reasons. The reasons are as follows –
Cross-cultural differences: Group theory is important in IT project management as it eliminates the cross-cultural differences and makes the team members understand each other’s culture (Senaratne & Samaraweera, 2015). As the team consists of a diverse group of people, hence it can create conflict between them. To solve cultural issues, group theory is necessary to make strong and good relations between the members of the project.
Interaction between the team members: Group theory helps in bringing effective interaction between the members of the project, and thus, the team can easily resolve the differences of opinion. The theory enables the project leader to facilitate conversation in the meeting to keep the group moving in the right direction for accomplishing the project goals.
Effective work: The group theory enable the team members as well as the project manager to effectively work together in the project by exploring various stages of theory within the organization (Ramazani & Jergeas, 2015). The team can effectively work together with the others because by considering theories; the project manager helps them in controlling technology projects.
Focusing on technical skills: The major objective of IT project management is to provide a successful technological product or service. In order to meet the goal, the project manager considers group theory to engage the members of the project in focusing on their technical skills. The team efficiently use their technological skills and successfully achieve the IT goals of the company.