Project Management (Software Project case study)

The internal Company situation


  1. Currently, if successful, the team for the main project would be drawn from across the Company on a ‘weak’ matrix Individuals would report to the project manager for project work, but they would still be part of their parent department and have the right of access to their own line managers if they wish. This would also be the reporting route for administrative and disciplinary matters. Their current line managers would also handle annual assessments and salary matters. As project manager, you would be expected to bid on the respective departmental line managers for the hours and skill sets for the appropriate individuals to be allocated to work on your project. Ultimately this would mean that, as present, their actual availability would be determined by overall departmental and Company priorities.


  1. The boss, the Engineering Director suggests that you talk to heads of departments.


  1. As your walk about progresses you notice that not all the people you speak to are interested or co-operative. In fact, some appear hostile. A common theme is that the project involves a ‘step to far’ in pushing the boundaries of current technology, especially in terms of complexity and systems integration. You note that these negative responses are mainly from people closely connected with project aspects of the Company’s business, possibly a legacy from their experiences of previous projects. For others, resistance to change is to blame. A major new project, coupled with rumours of the MD’s thinking, implies that significant changes are on their way. Relationships between the Systems Engineers and the Programmers and the Systems Testing team are particularly bad with testers criticising the quality of software documentation and programmers complaining about testers introducing unofficial software patches to maintain testing schedules.


  1. Based on past projects, your initial scoping to undertake the full range of tasks required by the project will require the team to include specialist staff from the following disciplines:


Senior engineering staff Software engineers
Quality assurance engineers Programmers
Support staff (e.g., secretarial and clerical) Project services staff


  1. These people have different viewpoints, and you will have to be aware of these differences. Not all will be at the level of knowledge or education of your team, or indeed yourself, and all will be specialists in their own areas. Allowances will have to be made, especially in the language you use and the way in which you communicate. Unfortunately, internal communications have never been a strong point in your Company.


  1. The exact make-up of the main project team will depend on your approach to achieving your project objectives. Further complications are that as your team get involved with the project, based on their own specialist backgrounds, they may identify further skills/specialist staff that could be required. There is also the ever-present risk that staff could leave your project or the Company at any time.


  1. Finally, in addition to managing your project you will be working with Merritron either as a partner or a sub-contractor, depending on the outcome of the contract negotiations and your own recommendations.


Current Company organisation

  1. The Departments are:


a. Engineering. Carries out research and development projects both internally and externally sponsored and funded. It consists of project teams and software engineering departments led by Chief Engineers as Line Managers.
b. Sales and Marketing Seeks out and produces requirement specifications based on customer’s requirements, can be enthusiastically optimistic.
c. Accounts Responsibilities include financial monitoring of projects.
d. Software Production Provides programmers as required by each stage of any project.
e. Quality Assurance (QA) Ensures that product is to a standard that will satisfy the customer as well as satisfying Company specifications.  Undertakes independent testing of all software developments.
f. Project Services Provides specialist project management support such as help in preparing and maintaining PERT charts and Project Networks. Monitors project progress against schedules and budgets. Organises project reviews.
g. Commercial and Contracts Co-ordinates project costings, recommends contract bid prices, negotiates contracts including detailed terms and conditions and is main interface with customer, particularly with regard to contract compliance and amendment.
h. Procurement Purchases material and externally sourced services (e.g., window cleaning), places sub-contracts at request of departments and project teams (subject to appropriate budget cover). Manages and progresses inward loan accounts for any customer or 3rd party hardware held for software development and/or bench testing.
i Services Undertake all housekeeping functions including site services, security, energy efficiency management and HR and prepare the payroll for payment by Accounts.


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