This is a take home exam to be completed by each student, individually, and submitted to the professor. The exam entails a step-by-step evaluation of an actual project. Each student selects a project to perform an in-depth analysis on it. The selected project is called the “Exam Project”. The output of the exam is an individual report. The process and the output requirements are summarized below.
The following steps should be followed in completing this exam:
1. Identify a project with which you are familiar. If you are currently working in a project either as a project manager or a project team member, you can choose that as your exam project. If you are not currently involved in a project at work (for example if you are a full-time student) you can either select a previous project in which you took part (including student projects), or evaluate a project which you observed even though you were not in the project team. Projects from your personal life (building a house, applying to a school, getting married, etc.) can also be selected as exam projects.
2. Read the included “guiding questions” before finalizing your selection to familiarize yourself with the types of questions that you will address in your report.
3. Briefly describe what project you have chosen for the exam. Explain if it is a project in which you participated or one that you observed. State whether it is a current or past project. Also explain whether if it is a completed project or an on-going project. Submit a 2-3 paragraph write-up to the professor on the date the exam project description is due.
4. Evaluate your exam project using the 45 “guiding questions” listed below as a framework. The questions are designed to give you a general direction for focusing on the critical issues throughout the life cycle of the project. Depending on the project you have selected some of the questions will be relevant, some will not be. Address the concepts and issues raised in the relevant guiding questions. Answering the questions one-by-one is an option but it is not a requirement. In most cases, you may find it more appropriate to summarize the critical issues by grouping the questions together and addressing each group, such as “project selection”, “project planning”, etc.
5. Answer at least 20 questions.
The report should include
a) an introduction giving a brief executive summary of what you did, including the guiding questions you used to assess the project,
b) a detailed description of the project,
c) an explanation of the way it is (was) managed vs. it should have been managed,
d) an assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of its management
d) an assessment of the project outcomes and shortcomings, if any,
f) a discussion of the relationship between success/failure of the project and its management,
g) the conclusion(s) that you reached after conducting this study,
h) any appendices that are relevant,
i) a list of references, using the IEEE format as shown in the articles published in IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management (Handout 28).
(Some of the following questions have been adapted from John M. Nicholas, “Managing Business and Engineering Projects”, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, Inc., 1990, pp. 49-483)
1. How does your exam project fit the definition of a project?
2. What characteristics of your project make use of project management appropriately or inappropriately?
3. How does your project fit in the overall organization chart of the parent organization? Draw the organization chart and show where the project is.
4. What are the internal, competitive and environmental systems for this project?
5. What kind of organizational structure is used (project in a functional area, pure project, pure functional, matrix, etc.) in the project? Is it the appropriate structure for achieving its goal, and the goals of the parent organization?
6. What is the role of the parent organization’s top management in your exam project?
7. Does the company have a procedure for selecting and training project managers?
8. Where did the project manager for your project come from?
9. When did the project manager get involved in the project?
10. How was the project selected? Describe the process.
11. What was the role of the project manager in selection of the project?
12. How was the project team created? What was the project manager’s role in the formation of the project team?
13. What is the project manager’s professional background? Is that background helping or hindering his/her ability to be a project manager?
14. What role does the project manager play (project manager with full authority, project coordinator assisting the “real” project manager, project coordinator speeding up the project activities and facilitating the “real” project manager’s work, etc.) in the project?
15. How much formal authority has been given to the project manager? How does he or she know this?
16. Does the project manager have sufficient formal authority? If not, is he/she able to utilize informal authority? Explain how.
17. How would you describe the project manager’s leadership style? Is it authoritarian, laissez faire (do nothing), participative, or something different? How is the project manager’s leadership style affecting the project?
18. Is the project manager more task-oriented, or more human relations-oriented? How is his/her orientation affecting the project?
19. How would you characterize the level of teamwork in this project?
20. How are the conflicts resolved when they arise in the project?
21. What are the primary motivators for the project team members? Discuss the relative importance of salary, career potential, participation in decision making, professional recognition and self satisfaction derived from success.
22. What functional managers are involved in the project? How are the authority/responsibility relationships between the project manager and the functional managers defined?
23. How does the project manager integrate functional areas?
24. What is the extent of open, informal communication in the project? What is the project manager’s approach to encourage or discourage communication?
25. What is the stress level in the project? How is the stress affecting the performance of the project team? Is it helping or hurting them?
26. Describe the process through which the WBS (Work Breakdown Structure) was prepared for the project. Show a partial WBS for the project as an example of what was done.
27. Was a RACI Matrix (Responsible, Accountable, Consult, and Inform), also known as LRC (Linear Responsibility Chart) prepared for the project? If so, who developed it and how frequently is it updated? Show a partial RIM for the project as an example of what was done.
28. How were the project schedules developed? By whom?
29. How were the time estimates determined for the work packages when the project schedule was developed? Who provided the estimates?
30. Is a scheduling software used? If so, which one? Who runs it? Who uses the information derived from the network analysis? How is that information used?
31. How are the schedules maintained and updated? By whom?
32. If there are (were) schedule slips, what are (were) the main reasons for it?
33. How were the project costs estimated? Describe the process.
34. How often and under what circumstances are (were) the cost estimates revised during the project?
35. If there are (were) cost escalations, what are (were) the main reasons for it?
36. How is project progress monitored for cost, schedule and performance? Describe the process.
37. When cost, schedule or performance problems occur what action does the project manager take? Give examples.
38. How often and what kinds of review meetings are held in the project? Who attend them?
39. How is the project linked to the end user?
40. If the project has been completed, how was it terminated? If it is an on-going project, have plans been developed for its termination?
41. Was there (will there be) a post-project briefing? If so, who were (will be) involved in it?
42. If the project has been completed what happened to the project team members when the project was terminated? If it is an on-going project what is the parent organization’s plan for the disbanded team upon completion?
43. If the project has been completed did any follow-up projects grow out of it?
44. If the project has been completed was it a success or failure? Did everyone involved in the project agree on the success/failure of the outcome? Review the factors that contributed to its success or failure.
45. Prepare a short proposal, based on the analysis that you just completed, on how to improve your exam project.