A. The Five Project Management Process Groups
The five project management process groups begins with ‘The scoping process group’ which can also be referred to as the initiating process. The process includes all processes that relate to one question ‘What is the task?’ and ‘What do you need to do?’. Thus, NASA’s vision is to constantly develop flight technologies and from this NASA embarked on on the Autonomous Rotorcraft Project. The project entails developing an unmanned helicopter that ideally operates with the decision making skill of a piloted aircraft. The scoping process means that project management team can establish what is need to achieve the clients needs, in this project they include;
-manoeuvre around obstacles without human supervision -accomplish top level mission goals -conduct vehicle health management activities, which is diagnosing and fixing problems on the machine automatically – to be able to re plan the mission if unforeseen obstacles occur.
Secondly is the process of project planning process relates to the question ‘How will you do it?’. The complexity of this process is unrealised as it requires technologies that are yet to be discovered. For example, just to travel from point A -B the autonomous helicopter will need to sense, classify and identify surrounding landmarks and then reconcile those landmarks with stored maps. It will then have to localise itself with those specific landmarks, rapidly compute a path that would keep it away from various oncoming obstacles and closely follow its chosen path. These ideas remain difficult in the project planning stage as there is a lack of available autonomous technologies and resources. Not only do NASA want to create an Autonomous Rotorcraft it also seeks to advance unmanned vehicle operations for future projects( Whalley, 2003).
After the project planning process, comes the project launching process. This process includes all processes related to recruiting and organising the team and establishing operational rules. It also largely includes getting the project started. The project manager allowed the team members to incorporate changes and agree on their own responsibilities as it allows them to carry out their tasks in a more efficient manner. To ensure this was the case was to schedule regular demonstrations of the teams accomplishments, ensuring a specific amount of work was completed before it was presented.
The monitoring process, includes all processes related to the ongoing work of the project. An example of this is the ARP project website that was created to keep information of the project so upper management and stakeholders are aware of the projects progression. The last process group is the closing process, this specially entails the notion of ‘How well did the project go?’ After the completion of the project, the project manager learned that the needs needed to be met of each team member and communicate individual responsibilities effectively. Whilst there was not too many on going challenges the project manager learned that the time spent scheduling flights took long than expected, it will be taken into consideration for the future to minimise any delays.
B. Classify the project
Risk: Is an integral part of this project. It usually includes; risk identification, risk assessment, risk mitigation and risk monitoring. Risk regarding project management is a future event which happens with probability and induces change. The autonomous rotorcraft is subject to risk, these can most commonly include delays which can create a loss for the project, and therefore subjecting the project to cost increases. Business Value: The notion of business value supports the companies strategic goals and meets user information requirements. Thus it needs to be a good investment for NASA. Consequently the autonomous rotorcraft is an investment for the organisation as it allows future developments to be based of this project for other differing autonomous vehicles.
Duration: The duration of the project began in 2002 and was up for ARP teams nominations for 2005 project of the year. It has been flying autonomously since March 2004 and has been flight tested weekly for 30-60 minutes per flight. The system in the current Rotorcraft has been flown in the same configurations since November 2005. Complexity: The complexity of this project is very difficult as mentioned earlier, this is because the rotorcraft is unmanned and needs to make various decisions through its Linux based software.
Technology: The technology used in the Autonomous Rotorcraft is complex and due to this faced many hardships and obstacles. The technology is complex. NASA’s mission was to extend its technology and expertise regarding automated systems. Specifically the project management team would create a flying laboratory consisting of technologies such as advanced flight controls, a reactive planner and an all digital camera system with tracking and passive ranging capabilities. The Autonomous rotorcraft is a Yamaha RMAX helicopter, which was selected as the project UAV platform. It was originally developed for remote control seeding and spraying and therefore was notably sturdy and reliable.
Due to this numerous modifications were made to the rotorcraft to support autonomous operations. These include the additional avionics which in turn carries out navigation and flight computer control, an experimentation computer, a GPS receiver and radio communications (Freed, 2006). Cost: The cost for this project has not been disclosed, although budget was kept.
C. How did the project fit against the nine Project management Knowledge areas
Integration Management focuses on the larger tasks that must be done for the project to work. Thus it is the practise of ensuring that every part of the project is coordinated. The project manager must be very competent at this to ensure that the project runs smoothly. The Autonomous Rotorcraft project manager planned well, as they took many things into consideration regarding this. As mentioned earlier, the project manager used techniques to establish motivation for team members. The main technique was scheduling regular meetings and demonstrating the teams current accomplishments. From these meetings the project manager could then provide additional recourses for the project in areas that need supplemental information. Thus the project was executed successfully and a high level of integration management was achieved.
The second knowledge area of Scope Management is the details and processes of the project. It is important to have a detailed plan before beginning the project. This meaning a clear goal. Which is very clear; ‘To develop an unmanned helicopter’. Whilst it is beneficial to understand the scope of the project it is also important to understand that changes may occur during the project, which fall under this specific knowledge area. Due to the favourable outcome of the project, scope management was achieved, as challenges and communication were met effectively. Similarly to this is time management, the ARP met all scheduling goals and completed each phase with no scheduling delays. Thus it is understood that, the project had sufficient resources and a good time management plan. Cost management is just as valuable as time management.
This knowledge area includes cost estimating and budgeting. Once the cost for the ARP project was estimated, the project manager must control the cost and make changes to the budget as needed. The cost of the project would have been fluctuating as the accuracy changes as the project would have progressed. Furthermore, quality management is an important knowledge area as the ARP would have had to have been measured against a similar predetermined acceptable measure. The project manager would of created a quality management plan early on in the project, as this effects other areas such as scope, time cost and most importantly risk. Human resource management is responsible for the project organisation, the selection of team members on the ARP (assigning staff) and project organisation.
Whilst the project manager assesses the performance of the team, so does human resource management from a different perspective – this also includes the project manner. Along with this comes communication management, which is very important in the ARP. This includes the ARP project website, that was created to keep NASA computer information and communications technology program for upper management and stake holders to be aware of the projects progression. The team also provided project updaters to potential customers, which include; The Department of Homeland Security, the National Technology transfer centre and other NASA researchers. . This type of communication management offers dual benefits as it is marketing the rotorcraft and maintaining a strong customer base for future projects.
As well as this, all the material communicated was accessible to the team via the website, these included; flight plans, authorised documents, scheduling and media. Another project management area is Risk management, this involves how risks are managed on the project. The project manager must identify these challenges and plan how the team will respond to them in a positive manner. These risks included, coordinating the ARP project team, as it consisted of people from a plethora of different backgrounds and thus the project manager ensured communication stayed strong. Another challenge that the team was faced with as scheduling flight tests, this took more time than originally anticipated and therefore ran risk of delays, to combat this more time was put foreword to ensure that there was no future delays.
Lastly is procurement management, this is a set of processes that links to the supply chain sector of the ARP project. It is when goods or services need to be obtained from an outside organisations. The project manager plans these purchases of products that cannot be provided from their own company. This is important as it links directly with quality management, this is because it is difficult to ensure quality is delivered from an outside supplier at an appropriate cost that meets budget.
Conclusion It must be reiterated that The Autonomous Rotorcraft Project was executed successfully. There are many areas that need to be covered by the project team in order for this to be a smooth operation. Whilst there are some areas that are of more importance to others, it is ideal to have a team that can respond to all positive and negative situations that the project may encounter. The ARP project, fitted well against all nine Project Management areas, thus NASA expressed a high level of satisfaction with the project.