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Personal Learning Portfolio

MAN6303 – Personal Learning Portfolio

Information:

This assignment requires you to create a personal learning portfolio (PLP). The purpose of this portfolio is to help you in the role as a project or program manager to envision yourself conducting the required activities for Program Management. The key activities that will help you build the portfolio are: 1. Reflection – thinking about the questions in regard to your own experience, capabilities and desires. 2. Collaboration – exchanging ideas with your colleagues, friends and mentors and testing out the solutions and directions you have arrived at. 3. Information – researching further, using your existing knowledge, using ECU library, using academic journals and industry publications, the internet, business and the materials presented in this course.

Portfolio Entry 1 – VANT’s Problems Founded in 2005, VANT is a start-up company in the high-tech manufacturing industry that provides a variety of build-to-order products. Because of the industry nature, new products are constantly being updated, and the slow movers usually get left behind. While other companies in the same market are struggling with the economic downturn, VANT’s business surprisingly grows fast. This is thanks to the management team, whose vision it is to encourage and cultivate new ideas for business and process improvements. One important factor contributing to the company's rapid growth is the organisational strategy, which directs the company to seize market opportunities whenever possible. Fast delivery is one of the company promises. This strategy works fairly well, in fact a little too well because the company has grown unexpectedly too fast. Recently, demands for VANT’s products have risen over 150 percent. Although this is good news, the company's capabilities can't keep up with the rising demands, especially at peak periods. In attempting to deal with the growing demands, the company has created several more requisitions for customer service to take care of all new orders and customer relations. However, challenges in integrating various works among different functions are still overwhelming. That is because VANT’s build-to-order products require intensive assembling processes, which involve a number of people from electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, test engineering, and manufacturing, just to name a few. Each function possesses different specialties needed to carry the products to the final assemblies. At the moment, the work for each customer account is pretty much in sequence, following one silo to the next until the product is ready (see Figure 1)

The need for interaction among departments is minimal because of the way the products are originally designed. However, as the demands increase, so do the product complexities. This requires more and more interaction across the organisation, which is difficult for VANT’s current structure, Plus, the existing operations worked fine only when there weren't too many customer accounts. Now things are starting to fall apart. Just a week ago, multiple deliveries slipped, and the problem seems to be continuing. Paul Howarth is the director of engineering at VANT. He is concerned that the problem will soon become a company-wide crisis. He knows things will go wrong if there is no change in the company. But he isn't exactly sure what changes are needed. Changes in organisational structure to facilitate the communication and decision making? Changes in operations process to speed up the manufacturing? Or something else? The list keeps getting longer, and every solution seems workable. One Sunday, Paul sees adverts about program management whilst online. “Program management for improved business results: the coordinated management of interdependent endeavours to achieve a set of business goals." After reading the description of the course and short explanation about program management, he thinks program management may be what he's been looking for. With excitement, Paul can't wait until Monday to discuss this idea with his peers.

Learning Portfolio Questions 1. Do you think program management is an appropriate approach? 2. What would your recommendations be to him? 3. How would you approach the problem?

Portfolio Entry 2 – Rapid Release

TSU is a Perth based 21-person unit specifically established to develop a proprietary software management tool for a 700-person Sydney based software company, also known as the OzChipz. The TSU unit is in charge of internal software development tools used in testing microprocessors manufactured by the business units of this multi- billion-dollar company. In the past, TSU would usually spend up to six months collecting requirements from OzChipz; sometimes accepting requirements midway through the project, and trying to make everyone happy. In doing so, TSU would normally end up with a project that had a long list of features to accomplish. As a result, many projects took a long time to finish. In many cases, promised features were dropped, but still usually with sizeable scope creep. There were so many complaints of TSU’s handling of its projects’ scope and timeline, literally from all sections of OzChipz, leaving OzChipz no option but to act. To help lessen the negative consequence, OzChipz put together a team made up of employees and managers from its major departments to analyse the situation. After a long study, the team proposed that TSU change its business model into a ‘rapid release’ model. The rapid release model was intended to be used as a way to improve quality in new product development for several years, but was just recently employed for the first time ever.

Jane White, manager of the TSU group, explains her team’s approach:

Contrary to our existing model, the rapid release approach favours frequent, smaller projects, each one implementing a small number of features only. We call these small projects rapid releases. In particular, the scope of each rapid release is frozen at the beginning of the development phase of the program life cycle (PLC). This happens after the discovery phase, which is the first phase of the PLC. Each rapid release scope typically has only two or three features, and must be approved by a program manager. Let’s say we have a big program called program X. Instead of running it the way we did, we break it down into smaller projects (Xa), each with a few features. We begin to work on project Xa (programming part); we plan its execution in detail, then transfer programming to the Japanese part of the team. We then begin to collect requirements for project Xb. So, all of us from TSU here in Perth, and all the other guys in Japan work on only small but frequent projects. Each rapid release usually takes around three months, and is officially part of the program upgrade. In other words, any change aside from those related to the specified two or three features is difficult. And those two or three features are usually clearly defined because we don’t have to focus on too many things at the same time. So, without major changes we usually cruise through the program, almost never seeing scope creep or change in scope. Less is more!’

Learning Portfolio Questions 1. From a program perspective, describe the advantages and disadvantages of TSU’s approach 2. Explain, with reasons, whether you believe it could be extended to other organisations seeking to manage programs more effectively

Portfolio Entry 3 – Program Stakeholder Engagement 

Read report from the Auditor General of New South Wales which can be found at https://www.audit.nsw.gov.au/publications/latest-reports/sharing-school-community-facilitiesnov17 You have been asked for help by Jenny Green, a program manager with a local council in Western Australia. She tells you that the School’s Minister in the state government in Western Australia is

looking to replicate many of the findings of the New South Wales audit. She believes that an announcement from the Minister is due in 3 months. Her employer, the local council, has asked her to research issues that could help them decide how to respond. She knows you are regarded as an expert in program stakeholder management. She has asked you to provide your expert opinion; specifically a 500 word summary of what approach she could adopt towards stakeholders if her local council managers decide to implement the findings of the audit report using program management. She tells you that the local authority currently has a total of 36 schools in its area, catering for children of all age ranges, and all have outside sports facilities, 12 have swimming pools, and all have classrooms and large meeting spaces. None are used by the community outside normal school hours. She tells you that most parents she has spoken to would not support the findings of the audit.

Learning Portfolio Activity 1. Using the concepts from the MAN6303 Unit and your own research, please prepare a short summary of your recommendations for Jenny 2. Explain your reasoning using current program stakeholder management principles, and wider research from relevant program management academic literature

Portfolio Entry 4 – Successful Program Management Discuss the statement ‘we still know little about what constitutes successful program management under various organisational conditions’. Use recent relevant examples and research to support any arguments and conclusions you make.

Portfolio Entry 5 – Reflective Report Please reflect back on both activities you undertook with your group for ‘Assignment 1’. Create a written report about how you approached the case study, and how you dealt with group work. This is your ‘reflective’ report that should include the following: 1. What you have learned from working with other students on Assignment 1 2. What worked 3. What did not work 4. What you would do differently next time 5. How your management skills were tested during the assignment 6. How you communicated with the other group members (including evidence of contact – such as placing work into a shared folder) 7. (If relevant) How you responded to change and difficulties, including whether other members of the team contributed less than others, and any evidence you may have to support this view

Answer

Portfolio 1 –VANTS PROBLEMS

1. Do you think program management is an appropriate approach?

According to me, program management will be a good approach because VANTS are growing every day and due to the inability to supply the rising demands of the customers they are now facing a decline in productivity. Now let's look at the background picture. This is a company which has earned its reputation in a very short time. Whereas its competitors have faced economic breakdown. This technology advanced manufacturing industry have been successful its run on the market because of its fast delivery. In order to maintain its leadership in the market and being favourite choice of customers, the company is required to meet the customers’ demand in short possible time and it should not let the customers wait for longer times.  

Now when the demand seems to every growing it can’t keep up. Program management will help the company to see the bigger picture. For example, with the program management, the company will get know what program to focus on and which program to be dealt on with later. It other words, the priorities of the demand and related programs is to be decided. In simple terms, resources can be shared more effectively now. This will help the company to reach its goals in time. Furthermore, it will be helpful for estimating a budget on a particular program. With the of program management, the company will now know which critical program needs a more funding and which programs can be settled with less cost. From the above statements, it is clear that program management will help the company to achieve one pool of resources which in turn will make the communication between different departments easy and transparent. The inter-department communication will make the things more easier and achievement of targets by the company would not be much difficult.  

2. What would your recommendations to him?

From the above portfolio, it is clear that the main problem this company is facing is assembling the manufactured parts. Earlier this was not a problem since the parts were easy and simple. Now when the company is trying to make complex systems it can’t get all the departments working together. With the increase of demands for products, complexities tend to rise more and more. For instance in order to get a complex system assembled various engineering departments' needs to work together like electrical engineering, mechanical engineering and so on.  It is quite easy to understand that with the increasing demand and rising complexity of the system, the new and innovative steps are required in assembly of the parts and hence after analyzing the company's situation from the above portfolio, my recommendations to Paul would be:

1. Have a program manager to speed up manufacturing 

The program manager is very important for successful completion of the operation. Most of the company’s operation does not get completed in time because the departments do not collaborate with each other. The program manager will do the co-ordination among the various departments and he will ensure that the all the connected departments of the assembly lines works in tandem of each other keeping in mind over all objectives of the company. The program manager will help make all the departments collectively work with each other. This will not only make the company reach the company’s goal on time but have a clear way of communication between all the departments 

2. Have  a  Risk management plan

The company’s work conditions visible from the portfolio clearly states that there is no risk management plan involved in it. Meaning the risk that can occur during the operations have no strategies that could mitigate it. Risk management plan is very important because it helps to identify the risk and speed up the process. Without the risk management plan, the company does not provide a stellar performance. Meaning if the company faces a problem during an operation it would know how to deal with it since it does not have a conditioned management plan. Furthermore, if the program manager is not available the risk management software will automatically help the company to make action plans and maintain logs in the behalf of the manager.

3. Prioritizing right to meet demands

This will help the company to solve problems of delivery. Earlier the company uses to outshine everyone with since they used to provide fast delivery. This made the company earn a reputation in the manufacturing market. To keep the competitor at a bay, the company is required to maintain the same tempo of fast delivery. But, it is being observed that in recent times, the company is unable to meet the future the demands because now there are a number of customers but no rules and order to make the things right.  The company should hire a program manager who would make sure that important programs are met first and less important ones are handled later. For example, if the company gets an order to manufacture tech gadgets for a big firm, and gets another order form a small firm. In this case, the program manager will help make quick decisions and make the participants of the program understand the importance of prioritizing more profitable programs first.

4. How would you approach the problem? 

According to me, I would approach the problem two ways. One has to be the program management approach; the second has to be a risk management approach. My program management approach would provide the following benefits for the company 

  • More efficiency in services 
  • Improved customer satisfaction 
  • More development and growth in the program team 
  • Competitive advantage 
  • More and more opportunities for VANT to extend their services
  • Improved quality and quantity 
  • More flexibility 

Now coming to the risk management approach, this will help the company in the following ways : 

  • Minimizing and treatment of risk
  • Providing more opportunities
  • Making people aware of the risks involved in a program 
  • Provide more protection to the resources 
  • Save more cost and time 

Thus from the above statements, it is clear that both these approaches will make the program done in time and budget which will make the client very happy.  The client will walk away happy and would take the initiative to increase the business relationship with the company. Because it is the true to say that the satisfied customers returns back and multiplies in number. Thus these two approaches will build a strong bond between the client and the company. The customers’ loyalty would be earned and the customers would remain attached with the company’s products. Furthermore following these approaches will make the program team shine and the future tasks will be performed with more efficiency. With the help of these approaches, there will more opportunities for the company to grow and expand. Now one of the greatest advantages of using this approach would be flexibility. With the help of these approaches, the company will be able to map out its own strategies to attain favourable outcome and also can make important decisions during critical situations. Saving the best for the last, the use of these approaches when will make the company rise in quality and quantity both. Since there will better efficiency there will be better there will be an increase in quality and quantity. It is so because both the quality and quantity are important for increasing company reputation and standards. 

Portfolio entry 2 –Rapid release

1. From the program perspective, describe the advantages and disadvantages of TSU’s approach? 

Advantages of TSU approach 

  • Improved stability
  • Cost-effective
  • Ability to do smaller programs on time
  • Program completion maximum takes 3 months 
  • Bigger programs are divided into smaller parts 
  • Separation gives collaboration of different departments/, for instance, the execution is handled by TSU and the programming is handled by the Japanese team

Disadvantages 

  • Difference in option 
  • Lack of leadership many cause unnecessary conflict 
  • Enterprise customers do not get enough time to stabilize their platforms
  • Not enough time to test all the possible configuration
  • Not enough time to rectify the bugs that were created in the previous versions

2. Explain with reasons whether you believe it could be extended to other organizations seeking to manage programs more effectively.

Many big software companies are in modern times are shifting their traditional monthly release into shorter release cycle known as the rapid release cycles (Chen et al, 2015). For example, take Google who makes sure that their software keeps up to date to every six weeks. With the help of these rapid release technology companies are able to provide new releases and create more marketing opportunities (Akintewe et al, 2015). This is keeping the company updated and free from undesired attack such as hackers etc. 

With the help of a rapid release cycle, TSU will be able to fix bugs faster, calculate uptime and manage tasks faster through automation (da Costa et al, 2016). Before I explain why rapid releases are better for completing work on time let me provide you with a background scenario of today's world.

In today's world, many companies are opting for rapid releases as it speeds up the delivery time. Instead of working for 18 months for coming up with the latest innovations companies are now working for 3 months and coming up the crucial big fixes (Mäntylä et al,2015).

Now it has to note that the concept of rapid release came in 2004 which was aimed at making delivery times faster so that benefits the company and the users. With the help of this rapid release, companies are able to get some faster feedback on bug fixes and new features. This helps in the company in planning both short term and long term goals (Souza et al, 2015). It is necessary to put here that if any of the goals (short term or long terms) are not taken care of properly, the company would never be able to meet its desired targets. Therefore, with help of this approach developers are now nit compelled to rush their release date and can now focus on the quality of the software. Furthermore, the rapid release provides huge benefits for the customers too as now they are introduced to new features and faster, new security updates and bug fixes Hemmati et al, 2017)

On the contrary entries, customers suffer since they are able to get appropriate time to manage their platforms. In order to eliminate this issue companies like Mozilla and Google have opened parallel versions of their every product that is released.

Now there is the on-going debate on how rapid release effects the quality of the software. Most of the researchers say that the rapid release improves the software quality but it has been fully proved yet. Some of the researchers like the Baysal found out that bugs get fixed faster using the traditional method rather than the rapid release method. Furthermore, he also stated that shorter release cycles make it impossible for the developer to test the entire configuration. The recent survey has reported that there were 2, 600 untouched bugs in firebox due to the rapid release cycle

Thus, for the reader to fully analyse how rapid release can affect the software, the reader first needs to analyse the field usage and bug fixes. Firefox and chrome are one of the most used browsers that have moved from the traditional model to the rapid release model. Meaning this transition would allow the users to determine how bugs were fixed and controlled during this process.

Filed quality it is important to understand because it gives the users the overview to understand the software quality that is involved. The non supporters of the rapid release model claim that the rapid release model does not provide enough time for quality assurance of the software model. Meaning, that its software may contain enough bugs to crash the entire system. In order to understand this phenomenon in detail the users have come up with post-release bugs and the crash report server.

Portfolio Entry 3 – Program Stakeholder Engagement

1. Using the concepts from the MAN6303 Unit and your own research, please prepare a short

summary of your recommendations for Jenny

The performance audit in New South Wales Auditor-General report revealed that the sharing of school facilities with the community is only partially efficient. The Department of Education has attempted to execute strategies to enhance shared and joint use of the school assets but several impediments are observed in the process. Some of these barriers are outside the Department’s direct control and hence the department may feel helpless in addressing these issues. It is essential to address these barriers to provide benefits to all the stakeholders’ including councils, department, school authorities, students, parents, principals and the community. Therefore, management of stakeholders is quite necessary and then only all the issues can be resolved effectively. 

It is essential that all the stakeholders must collaborate to adopt an integrated approach to prioritize joint use from the earliest stages of any program in shared use of school facilities. In failing to do so, the Department would require considerably higher funds than planned to offer adequate fit-for-purpose school facilities where and when needed. Consultation meetings including all the relevant stakeholders must be done to avoid the focus of Department on schools only to identify and promote sharing opportunities. Comprehensive information should be made available and accessible to potential community users regarding which school facilities are available for shared user and the possible ways to arrange access to a school facility. This will involve the different stakeholder with the program and they will be able to express their view points and the success of the program can be achieved by their involvement. In addition, schools should be made active in the sharing process, principals and other relevant authorities of the school must be provided with sufficient resources to seek opportunities. It must be understood that the scope and efficiency of shared use largely depends on the willingness of individual principals. If the Principals are averse to risk-taking and choose to exclude community related activities from school premises instead of managing risks incurred through granting public access, then this can be one of the biggest barriers. Principals should be convinced and informed regarding risk management and they are to be made aware that without involving all concerned stakeholder the desired aim may not be achieved.  

State-level plans for spearding the information to local communities must be developed after consultation with every stakeholder. A Web site can be created to encourage information sharing among school districts. Further, more effort is required to identify and assess barriers at different levels and determine solutions by conducting different studies. For example, if liability concerns are identified as a barrier to shared use, then “statutory protection from liability, to encourage schools to open their facilities to the public under appropriate conditions” should be recommended. Lastly, appropriate processes must be implemented to assess and timely evaluate the implementation of shared use and joint use policies and encourage better practice to direct improvements.

2. Explain your reasoning using current program stakeholder management principles, and wider

research from relevant program management academic literature

The traditional approach of the goal, methods and objectives of the corporation is challenged by the stakeholder theory of business management. In traditinal approach, Corporate boards and executives have considered increasing profits and raising stock price as their fundamental purposes (Hörisch, Freeman & Schaltegger, 2014). Further, they regard constructing value for the firm’s shareholders as their key legal and ethical responsibility. However, the businesses which focus on all the stakeholders rather than only the shareholders put efforts in outlining the values of the firm and reinforcing the social associations which will further establish firm’s long-term success. The same is resomeneded in above mentioned case study. Jenny Green is adviced to take support from all stakeholders which include government, community and other stakeholders.

Concepts

The fundamental concept of the stakeholder theory is that a firm facilitates individuals collaborate to generate economic value (Jensen, 2017). To accomplish the goals, stakeholder theory emphasizes that the firm’s leaders must find out and focus on the factors and values that bring all of the firm’s chief stakeholders together. It will enable the leaders to define company’s purpose, decide the methods and approach of business operations and build the types of associations they need with all the stakeholders. Management can encourage the stakeholders to help them accomplish their goals by nurturing a shared sense of the value though business processes.

Stakeholder theory suggests that the leaders of the company must stress their efforts on incorporating every stakeholders of the company and not only the shareholders (Jones, Wicks & Freeman, 2017). A stakeholder is an organization or individual that impacts, or is impacted by, the company’s purpose. A firm’s managers, directors, workers, shareholders, vendors, and clients are its primary stakeholders. For several firms other units such as governments, nonprofit agencies, communities and competitors come under their stakeholders.

Evidence

Evidence of stakeholder theory has showed that several firms focus on stakeholders. The above mentioned case study is a typical stakeholder theory case study. Jenny Green decided to focus on stakeholders. Its not easy for Jenny green to get the support of parents. And, parents are primary stakeholders in this case study. Parents have high interest and high power in all stakeholder group. Hence, Jenny must provide regular information to them to get maximum support.

Implications

Shareholder theory questions the corporate leaders and small-business owners to reconsider about their management practices. It supports the management approach which is switching its fundamental effort of their businesses away from short-term profits and toward success in long run. Current business scenario is facing progression in globalization, financial uncertainty and increased concerns regarding corporate duty, the key principles of stakeholder theory can be applied an example for startups and assist the unsuccessful companies to come out of their situation.

Portfolio Entry 4 – Successful Program Management

Discuss the statement ‘we still know little about what constitutes successful program management

under various organisational conditions’. Use recent relevant examples and research to support any

arguments and conclusions you make.

Organizational conditions forms an important aspect for any organization irrespective of its industry (Bustinza et al., 2015). Despite of having suitable leaders, shared goals and dedicated employees, an organization without definite organizational conditions tends to fail in program management. Organizational conditions has a huge impact on the success of program management in a company (Kaiser, El-Arbi & Ahlemann, 2015). Program management mostly takes important decisions on the programs, determines program goals and dictates the role of program managers. 

In a program, both people and process along with technologies form important part for achieving the desired outcomes. Therefore, success of the program hugely depends on how the resources are conditionsd in the organization. Organizational conditions plays an important role in making the decisions on the required resources and other requirements in the program.

This research highlights the factors that are required to make the programs successful in different conditions of organizations. These factors include context of organization in the program management, success factors required in the program management and dependence of these factors. The review that will be made regarding the earlier research will provide the required knowledge regarding success of programs which are depending on the context of the organizations.

In the book “A Guide to the Program Management Body of Knowledge”, a presentation has been given on the organizational conditions which ranges from the functional organization to the project organization (Larson & Grey, 2015). In the case of a pproject organization, most of the resources of the organizations are used in the program related works. In the case of matrix organizations, both functional and the programized organization conditions is followed. According to the PMBOK guide, there are three matrixes namely strong, weak and balanced. Most of the modern organizations follow these matrixes. 

Functional:

This is regarded as one of the common organization structure. In this type, the departments of the organizations are separated according to different specialization along with their respective functions (Lee, Kozlenkova & Palmatier, 2015). A silo environment is followed while conducting a program and communication takes place between the similar functions. The workers associated in the team conducting the program within their own department.

Programized:

In this method, the whole organization is structured according to the programs and the program manager is given responsibility of controlling the program. Employees are given responsibility to report their status of the work to the program manager. After completing a particular program, these employees are given responsibility to work in other functions and the communication process takes place within the respective program.

Matrix:

In this type of organization, there are two managers. One of them is the functional manager and the other one is program manager. The members of the program team are required to report and communicate with both of these managers. Such organizations mostly focus on getting strong output by using the functional as well as protectized organizational conditions (Browning, 2016). That is the employees conduct both departmental and program works.

The power of both these managers varies on the basis of the strength of this organization. In the case of a strong matrix organization, program manager is given the greater power and the situation is opposite in the case of weaker matrix organization. In this case, program manager mainly acts as a coordinator. However, in the case of balanced matrix, similar power is provided to both these managers.

Tight or Loose Program Management:

An organization can have either tight or loose conditions and this depends on the process used for program management. While rule bound conditions is used in tight conditions, on the other hand, less rule bound is used in looser conditions (Walker, 2015). Looser conditions mainly happens in small organizations or in case of a new program team when they get experience after working together in the programs. In the case of tight conditionss, it happens mainly in larger organizations which are running complex program along with having a new team of workers.

Influence of the stakeholders:

Senior executives in the organizations are mostly regarded as program stakeholders. They are the ones who create goals and objectives for a program which are assessed after receiving the requirements from the clients. In case of any dispute that can occur during a program, program managers mainly takes help of these stakeholders to make decisions and make the required changes. These stakeholders are the most important decision makers of the programs and their decisions can have impact on the clients, program managers and on the workers as well.

Communications:

Communication is an important aspect of any program and it can be impacted by the organizational conditions (Hargie, 2016). Organizations having requirement of interdepartmental communications, discussions or meetings between the management and workers can ensure the success of the programs. Lack of communications can create confusion among the team members and thus can lead to failure of the programs. Communications help in creating common goal for a program and thus ensuring the outcome is met with desired success.

Chain of command:

Chain of command forms an important requirement in organizational conditions. It is important to have some suitable decision makers from whom the hierarchy of commands can be built (Perarnu et al., 2015). For example, in a program, the higher executive provides direction to the program manager, then the program manager directs to the team leader and the team leader directs to the employees. If such hierarchy is maintained, it assures success of a program.

In the functional organizations, program managers are required to communicate with the higher authorities more than the functional managers.  Communications with higher authorities can be extremely effectively in success of a program (Kerzner & Kerzner, 2017). Program offices are created in which program management is conducted successfully. This helps in supporting the program managers to conduct their responsibilities with success. The office personnel are required to maintain strong relationship with the program managers as well as the functional managers. The responsibility of the office personnel and the program managers involve maintaining integrity in the work within the organizations. Even in the case of large programs, presence of effective program office personnel helps in ensuring success of a program even with limited budgets. Success of program and career growth of program managers depends on the relationship with the higher authorities of the respective organizations.

Hence, due to so many dynamic conditions, it can be said that there is still a big room to improve program management in different organizational conditions.

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