Management of a Software Development Project Essay

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Management of a Software Development Project

Introduction

Many years ago, general services offered by hotels like dinner reservations, room reservations and other services were done manually. Most hotels used books, ledgers and papers to record names of guests, their duration of stay and contact details. This required a lot of effort and time. Since the advent of the information age however, dynamic and interactive websites have been introduced which have more efficient and faster technological features and capabilities for the management of hotel services. For any business to remain competitive, it is necessary to maintain an online presence in order to reach out to customers all over the world and compete on a global platform. Reservations and payments are now done online to ensure that conduction of business is faster and more convenient for customers.

Definition of Project Management

A project is a temporary endeavor that is done to generate a unique product or service (Duncan 1996). Project Management is an activity that involves the overall supervision, management and co-ordination of all activities related to accomplishing a set activity. It always has a start and a finish date. According to Whitten, Project Management is a process that starts at the beginning of a project, is conducted throughout a project and doesn’t end until after the project is completed (2001).

 According to Duncan (1996), Project management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to activities to fulfill stakeholders’ needs and expectations. It usually involves finding a balance among scope, time, cost, quality, and varying expectations of stakeholders. Another definition of Project Management is “ the process of scoping, planning, staffing, conducting, directing, and managing the development of a system at an affordable cost within a specified time frame” (Whitten, Bentley & Dittman 2001, p.124).

Importance of Project Management

According to Dr Malcolm Wheatley, “Project management as a management discipline, supports much economic activity.” In major industries like Information Technology, Software Development, Construction, Pharmaceuticals, and Aerospace, project management is fundamental. Project Management is also important in governments that have set goals and milestones which can only be achieved with effective management practices. Data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis of the US Department of Commerce, estimated in 2001 that the US companies spend $2.3trn on projects every year (2000).

 Project management is important in any economic activity because it ensures adequate planning, scheduling and successful execution of a project; it also helps to reduce possible risks associated with a project and ensure minimal hitches. Project Management is indeed important to every economy. Many projects fail because of poor knowledge of Project Management concepts. Its relevance cannot be over emphasized.

Role of the Project Manager

The project manager is in charge of daily management and supervision of the project. He manages the project to ensure that things go according to plan. He also communicates with all stakeholders and project team members to ensure that there’s a clear understanding of general requirements. The project manager confirms users’ requirements to make sure that these requirements are incorporated into the end-product. A project manager engages in scoping, planning, staffing, organizing, scheduling, directing, controlling and closing a project (Whitten 2001, p.127).

Swot Analysis

The Regency Hotels has several strengths that serve as advantages. It has the potential to expand its services to customers internationally due to the number of branches it has, internet availability and its unique services. It is also strategically located, can leverage on its positioning and has a wide customer base. Its two major weaknesses are: 1) it has a static website which cannot provide interactive functions like online payments, online reservations, message boards, fan clubs, and so on. 2) It does not have skilled IT staff in-house that can manage the online system when it is eventually deployed.

There are however, opportunities for it to become one of the best hotels in the world by maintaining a consistent and interactive global presence.  Increased competition is the major threat to Regency Hotels. Most hotels today, have a strong online presence that offers customers various services that make their experiences with the hotel more memorable and convenient, like booking and paying online. Regency Hotels is yet to rise to the challenge.

Development methodology
The software development methodology to be adopted for the production of this system is the waterfall method. This is an approach to software development that specifies that a project should be grouped into phases and one phase must be completed before the next. The project is carried out in a logical manner through a pre-determined number of steps.

This method is preferred because the duration of the project is only two weeks and the requirements are clear.  With the waterfall method, project reviews are conducted between stages, which represent milestones. This provides an organized scenario that ensures required documentation and quality management of the developed application is carried out (Sorensen 1995).

Project Scope

The project scope definition involves clarifying the boundaries of the project. Regency Hotels in addition to available technological features like retrieving customers’ information, billing, checking for room availability, desires a system with added capabilities of online booking and payment.

This project involves building a system that can accept online booking and payment options by customers. A portal will be developed to include the following features: Online reservations, online payment, checking room availability, checking in, checking out, discussion group and general information on the hotel.

Secure Socket Layer (SSL) will be added to the website to provide for added security when paying online; search functions will be provided on web pages to check for room availability and booking; e-mail and discussion group facilities will be included to facilitate communication between customers and the hotel; and other technological features from the available website will be incorporated into the new portal to ensure that a robust system that meets the expectations of Stakeholders at Regency Hotels is built.

The final system will be deployed at the hotel and tested. Staff members that need to be trained will be identified and educated on how to use the system. The change management process will be made easier for staff of Regency Hotel by ensuring that they are adequately trained, resources are provide to assist them, and maintenance/ support plans are put in place.

Result of using COCOMO model to estimate effort, duration and number of people required.
The Constructive Cost Model, known as COCOMO was developed by Barry Boehm in 1981. It is based on the waterfall model and is used for estimating the number of person and months needed to develop software. It also estimates the development schedule in months. The development mode for this project is organic because it is a small and straight-forward one. A small team with sufficient experience work together to develop the portal system (Merlo-Schett 2002). COCOMO is defined in terms of three basic models: The Basic model, the Intermediate model and the detailed model. The KDSI is the size of the project in Kilo delivered source instructions. These are source lines that are created by the project team. Using the Intermediate COCOMO I, calculation is done as follows:

Required: Portal system for online payment and booking
Development Effort (MM) = a * KDSI b
Effort and development Time (TDEV) =   2.5 * MM c
With organic mode of development, a = 3.2, b = 1.05, c = 0.38
4 modules to implement:
Data entry – 0.5 KDSI
Data update – 0.3 KDSI
Online Reservations – 0.8 KDSI
Online Payment – 0.7 KDSI
System SIZE 2.3 KDSI
MM = 3.2 * 2.3 1.05  = 7.7
TDEV = 2.5 * MM c = 2.5* 7.7 0.38 = 5.4 (Project needs more than 5 months to complete)
Number of people to be hired = MM/TDEV = 7.7/5.4 = 1.4 (This means that more than one team member is needed to execute the project).
The major shortcoming of the above calculation is that value of the KDSI used is approximate (Merlo-Schett 2002).

Hardware and Software Requirements
At least four separate computers will be needed for building the portal, testing it and hosting it.  Softwares like Macromedia Dreamweaver, Java, PHP, SQL Server and Visual Basic .NET will be needed for building the portal. A central server for hosting and managing user connections to the portal will also be required.

 Work Breakdown Structure
Work Breakdown Structure shows the hierarchical decomposition of projects into phases, activities and tasks (Whitten 2001, p.135).

  1. SOFTWARE REQUIREMENT SPECIFICATION

1.1       Identify sponsors and stakeholders

1.2       Meet with sponsors and stakeholders to clarify system requirements

1.3       Produce Software Requirements Specification Draft

1.4       Sign-off on software requirements

  1. TECHNOLOGY SPECIFICATION

2.1       Determine hardware and software needed for developing the system

2.2       Procure hardware and software needed for system development

2.3       Set-up hardware and software for use

  1. SCOPE MANAGEMENT

3.1       Develop a written scope statement as a basis for future project decisions

3.2       Verify Scope of the Project with sponsors

3.3       Perform Scope Change Control to prevent scope creep

  1. COST & SCHEDULE MANAGEMENT

4.1       Develop an estimate of project costs

4.2       Schedule Meeting with Stakeholders to agree on cost and deadline

4.3       Receive Payment from Stakeholders

4.4       Allocate cost estimates to individual work items

4.5       Evaluate actual versus projected schedule

4.6       Control changes to project budget to avoid going over the budget

4.7       Compare actual and budgeted costs

4.8       Schedule Development

4.9       Schedule Control

  1. HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGEMENT PHASE

5.1       Identify Project Roles/Conduct Organizational Planning

5.2       Determine Skills of People needed to develop system

5.3       Determine number of people to work on the project

5.4       Recruit Project Team Members

5.5       Engage staff with appropriate skills

5.6       Develop individual and group skills to enhance project performance

  1. ACTIVITY MANAGEMENT PHASE

6.1       Develop activity list for project team members

6.2       Sub-divide major project deliverables into smaller components

6.3       Assign Team Members to tasks and deliverables

6.4       Supervise activities within the project team

6.5       Evaluate Performance and Productivity

6.6       Update activity list as necessary

6.7       Conduct meetings and review status reports on software development

  1. PROJECT OFFICE ADMINISTRATION

7.1       Attend to daily activities or events concerning the project

7.2       General project supervision

  1. PROJECT COMMUNICATIONS

8.1       Determine information and communication needs of stakeholders

8.2       Provide information to stakeholders in a timely fashion

8.3       Put contact details of all team members and stakeholders into the database

8.4       Performance reporting to stakeholders through status reports, progress measurement and forecasting

8.5       Set up meetings with project team members

8.6       Develop status reports for the project

  1. RISK MANAGEMENT

9.1       Identify all possible risks within the project and effects on project

9.2       Define steps for responding to threats

9.3       Respond to changes in risks during the course of the project

  1. QUALITY MANAGEMENT

10.1     Identify quality standards relevant to the project and how to satisfy them

10.2     Evaluate overall project performance

10.3     Define Quality Assurance Specifications

10.4     Code and check the system for compliance with quality standards

10.5     Test System to make sure it fits clients’ requirements

  1. Hand-Over of Project

11.1     Ensure adherence to client requirement

11.2     Conduct Customer Acceptance Tests

11.3     Review Software User Manuals

11.4     Sign off & Certify Solution Development

11.5     Submit Project Close-out Report

11.6     Terminate Project

Project scheduling

(Please refer to attached Microsoft Project document for dependency between activities, network diagram, critical path and Gantt chart)

A Project network diagram displays the logical relationships of project activities. A Gantt chart is a horizontal bar chart that shows tasks against timelines. Each bar is equivalent to a project task. Gantt charts show, tasks that can be performed at the same time (Whitten 2001, p.128).Any tasks on the critical path cannot be delayed.

Name of Activity  

 

Duration Starting Date

 

Finishing Date

 

Software Requirement Specification 1 Day Wed 4/23/08 Wed 4/23/08
Technology Specification

 

 

1 Day Thu 4/24/08 Thu 4/24/08
Scope Management

 

 

10 Days

 

Wed 4/23/08 Tue 5/6/08

 

 

Cost & Schedule Management

 

 

12 Days Wed 4/23/08 Thu 5/8/08
Human Resources Management Phase 8 Days Wed 4/23/08 Fri 5/2/08

 

 

Activity Management Phase

 

 

10 Days Wed 4/23/08 Tue 5/6/08
Project Office Administration

 

 

10 Days Wed 4/23/08 Tue 5/6/08
Project Communications

 

 

10 Days Wed 4/23/08 Tue 5/6/08
Risk Management

 

 

10 Days Wed 4/23/08 Tue 5/6/08
Quality Management

 

 

10 Days Wed 4/23/08 Tue 5/6/08
Hand-Over of Project

 

 

10 Days Wed 4/23/08 Tue 5/6/08

Possible risks related to the software development project

Every project has its own share of risks. Risks associated with this project are outlined below:

  1. The period of time given for the execution of the project is short. The COCOMO model shows that a project of such magnitude requires at least 5 months for completion. There is a risk of the project exceeding the time frame allocated by the stakeholders.
  2. User requirements may change or expand during the duration of project. There is a risk of having to accommodate changes to the design of the portal. This is known as scope creep and may affect the schedule and budget (Whitten 2001).
  3. With the obvious need to procure softwares for the development of the portal system, resources like time and money may not be sufficient.
  4. There is a risk of taking short cuts around the system development methodology in order to meet the deadline and not exceed the budget. This might affect the quality of the final product.
  5. Another potential risk is that of feature creep. This refers to the uncontrolled addition of technical features to a system that is being developed without regard to schedule and budget (Whitten 2001, p.125). A portal system is a robust application that is designed to fulfill various needs of an organization. The temptation to add more features is always a prevalent risk
  6. There is the risk of a team member resigning from the project. This will cause a considerable loss of time.
  7. There is also the risk of insufficient communication within the project team which may lead to misunderstanding of customers’ requirements, and cause a deviation from the project plan, budget and schedule.

Project Monitoring

Project monitoring involves supervising the project throughout its lifecycle. This is important in order to know how things are going and to solve any problem that may arise during the course of the project. This can be done via meetings, emails, reports on progress and finances and also by observing project management best practices.

Conclusion

            Applying the principles of Project Management to the development of the portal system at Regency Hotels will go a long way to ensure that the objectives are met on time, within budget and that the software product will be of the desired quality. Project Management is a crucial practice that should be encouraged in every sector of the economy.

It ensures that money, energy and time are not wasted on failed projects. With sufficient project management practices in place, stakeholders and contractors can conduct businesses without bothering about the hitches involved with long-term projects. Regardless of the end product, which could be a new service, product or knowledge, project management ensures that a successful outcome is achieved within the available resources and time frame.

References

Whitten, JL, Bentley, LD, & Dittman, KC 2001, Systems Analysis and Design Methods, 5th edn, Mc Graw-Hill, New York.

Wheatley, M 2000, The Importance of Project Management, Project Smart. Available from: <http://www.projectsmart.co.uk/the-importance-of-project-management.html> [22 April 2008]

Sorensen, R 1995, A comparison of Software Development Methodologies, Software Technology Support Centre. Available from: <http://www.stsc.hill.af.mil/crosstalk/1995/01/Comparis.asp> [24 April 2008]

Duncan, WR 1996, A Guide to Project Management Body of Knowledge, PMI Standards Committee. Available from: <www.unipi.gr/akad_tmhm/biom_dioik_tech/files/pmbok.pdf> [24 April 2008]

Merlo-Schett, N 2002, ‘COCOMO Constructive Cost Model’, Proceedings of the seminar cost estimation W 2002/2003, pp. 1-24. Available from: <www.ifi.unizh.ch/req/courses/seminar_ws02/reports/Slides_4.pdf> [22 April 2008].

 

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