Project Plan Management Essay
Project Plan Management
In recent years, there has been a lot of progress in the knowledge area of project management; however, many companies continue ignoring the techniques and tools that assist the conduct of projects. The project planning phase is considered, by many scholars, a crucial stage for the success completion of a project, especially when it comes to multi-project environments; where managers and team members participate in multiple, concurrent projects. The main objective of this project is to use the many project management techniques and tools to plan a Fitness Festival to educate the Tampa Bay community about the benefits of fitness and health while promoting the sport of CrossFit.
Each year, the United Health Foundation and the American Public Health Association team up to rank the health of America’s states. I was surprised to read that Florida was ranked number 33, behind many states like Colorado (ranked 8), and Minnesota (ranked 3). How could a state named “The Sunshine State” be so low in the rankings? And how could I help change that? Three years ago, I was introduced to CrossFit, and since then, my own health has changed radically. I stopped smoking, started to exercise often, and while learning about nutrition changed the way I eat. It not only changed my lifestyle, but I noticed it started to change my family and friends as well. In educating people around me about the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, they became motivated to try it themselves.
The purpose of this project is to create Fitness Festival that can educate the community about the benefits of fitness and health while promoting the sport of CrossFit. “CrossFit combines aerobic conditioning, Olympic weightlifting, gymnastics along with some other old-school training elements like kettlebell, rope climbs, tire flipping and sledgehammer into daily WODs (workout of the day)” (Upton 2013). By using Project Management skills, I will be able to “provide a vision of what the project is to achieve, communicate the vision to all involved, ensure that everyone stays focused on the vision, motivate all involved, as well as coordinate all tasks necessary to complete the project” (Kleim, 1998).
“The first step in the planning process was to identify exactly what was to be delivered as well as the major elements of work” (Heerkens, 2002). The main goal of the project was to educate the community about the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, but we also wanted to focus on promoting CrossFit. We know that CrossFit athletes are very competitive, so what a better way to promote the sport, but to create a friendly competition among Tampa Bay Crossfit athletes? All tasks had to be completed under the approval budget of $1000. DELIVERABLES
•Finalize Location of Event
•Develop Competition Workouts
•Plan Marketing Strategy
•Inventory of Equipment
•Obtain Sponsors and/ or Vendors
•Obtain commitment of Resources/ Volunteers
•Reserve competition location- January 18th 2014
•Create event flyers, website and social media- January 31st 2014
•Finalize workouts-February 10th 2014
•Confirm vendors and volunteers- February 17th 2014
•Organize swag bags- February 24th 2014
•Host Competition- March 1st 2014
•Location must accommodate the intended number of athletes and spectator
•There must be at least 1 judge for every team competing
•Location must have bathrooms
•All Athletes must sign a release form
•At least 15 athletes will sign up to compete
•Volunteers will not receive monetary compensation
•Sponsors and vendors will pay an entry fee
LIMITS AND EXCLUSIONS
•Sponsors and vendors will bring their own tent, table and chairs
•DJ is responsible for all music equipment including a microphone
Taylor Smith and Nicole Smith
WORK BREAKDOWN STRUCTURE
The Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is “developed by sub-diving a process, product, project, or service into its major work elements, then breaking the major work elements into sub-elements” (Stewart, 1995). The WBS is the “skeleton and foundation of every project and acts as the project’s major support mechanism” (Dow, 2010). I have found it to be useful in not only projects, but also in any brainstorming session. It helps team members “remember all major portions of work to be accomplished” (Stewart, 1995). Creating a focus helps organize the team and therefore, assure that all major deliverables are recognized.
The WBS “graphically displays all the work items for the project in a single chart” (Dow, 2010), so it can be used as a helpful communication tool. The WBS is also used to reduce the “possibility of overlap, duplication and redundancy of tasks” (Stewart, 1995). There is a lot of misconception that the WBS is an organizational chart or a schedule. PMs have to be very careful in explaining the function of the WBS as it does not have a sequence and should not be used as the project’s schedule.
“The network diagram’s purpose is to sequence and logically order all tasks on a project. It’s an organization of the project layout” (Dow, 2010). It allows for the PM to know what tasks are being worked on, their duration, when they should start and when they should finish, along with any predecessors and successors. Furthermore, the PM should identify the project’s critical path in order to assign the best team members to those tasks, as those tasks are critical to maintain “cost and schedule savings” (Warburton, 2013). CRITICAL PATH
The critical path will assist with maintaining control and keeping the project on schedule. “The critical path is derived by performing two manipulations of the schedule- a forward pass and a backward pass. The forward pass calculates the earliest times (or dates) that activities can start and finish. The backward pass calculates the latest times (or dates) that activities can start and finish” (Heerkens, 2002). “The critical path is the longest path and the shortest time in which a project can be completed” (Warburton, 2013). The critical path activities are the ones the PM needs to pay most attention to as “one day of slippage in a critical path activity means one day of slippage in the overall project”.
I started my project with a high level/ macro estimation. I used my experience from a previous In-House competition I planned as the basis for estimating the current competition event I am planning”. “While this method is less costly than other techniques, in most cases it is also less accurate” (Hill, 2009). Even though the end deliverable (host a competition) is the same, there are a lot of differences between In-house and a community competition. The scope is much larger, the timeline is greater, a lot more resources are needed, etc. This is why a Bottoms-Up or Micro estimate is a better technique. This type of estimate is “used when the PM wants to improve the estimate and account for risk and estimation uncertainty” (Heldman, 2013). Unfortunately, this technique is hard to do in the beginning stage of the project because there is not enough information at that time. The best time to use this technique is after the PM finalizes the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS). During this technique, the PM will estimate the cost of each activity in the WBS. “The cost and accuracy are driven by the size of the individual work packages- smaller work packages increase both cost and accuracy” (Hill, 2009).
“The calculations used in the Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT) approach recognize the variability inherent in each activity and applies rudimentary statistics in a way that accommodates the variability” (Heerkens, 2002). PERT uses three estimates. “The most likely time is the effort to complete a task under normal or reasonable conditions. The most pessimistic time is the effort to complete a task under the worst conceivable circumstances. The most optimistic is the effort to complete a task under the best or ideal circumstances” (Kleim, 1998). PERT CALCULATION
Estimated Cost = Optimistic Estimate + 4* (most likely estimate) + Pessimistic Estimate
$800 + 4* ($1,000) + ($1,500) = $1,050
This project is not expected to warrant a profit. Its objective is to educate the community about health, nutrition and the sport of CrossFit. Sponsors, including apparel stores, equipment stores, etc. will pay a fee of $250.00 each. The funds will go towards each athlete’s swag bag (which will include a competition t-shirt). The fee will also be used for the purchase of t-shirts for volunteers and judges. All Vendors, including vitamin stores, sports drinks, and any food vendor will pay a fee of $100.00 each. The fee will be used for the marketing of the competition which will include all vendors’ information and advertising.
“Risk management is a proactive attempt to recognize what can go wrong and to plan ahead” (Warburton 2013). Risk reporting is the act of informing team managers and senior management of those risks. RISKSCONSEQUENCES
Not enough athletes will sign upPotential cancellation of project Judges/ volunteers don’t show up on competition dayDelay and over-allocation of resources Athlete does not sign a waiver and gets hurt during competitionLiability to the Sponsor Property damage caused by heavy equipment Cost not in budget
EARNED VALUE (EV)
The earned value concept consists of examining the past, present, and future in order to determine the end point. IDBaseline EstimateSpent to DateCost to Complete Revised ForecastUnder (Over)
*** Local companies donated money towards the project in return for advertisement, which covered some costs within the planned budget*** RECOMMENDATIONS/ LESSONS LEARNED
Even though I understood that the project scope was one of the most important documents, I did not “invest an appropriate amount of time to fully understand all aspects of the project” (Heerkens, 2002). That caused a lot of wasted time on my part, as I struggled maintaining the timeline and handling over-allocation of resources. During the WBS exercise, I was clueless on what to do, so I kept focusing on “how” to deliver a task and ended up wasting a lot of my team’s time. After understanding the purpose of the exercise, I was able to focus on “what” work was needed to be performed and not “how” to do it. The PM needs to make sure every team member understands the concepts of what each “exercise” is. Many SMEs, stakeholders, etc. are not familiar with project management skills. When I was working on the network diagram, I realized I made the wrong assumption on the duration of some tasks, and had to adjust those times in order to meet the deadline.
That created even more pressure on the, already “stretched thin” resources. I also had to combine some tasks in order to simplify the diagram. The once separated tasks of commitment from Athletes, Sponsors, and Vendors are now combined and have the same duration time. After learning the importance of having the best people assigned to critical activities, I had to shift the assignments of resources and add other volunteers to help with the planning phase of the project. Also, I could have done a better job recognizing changes in the critical path through the ongoing schedule updates. If not done, the “PM could very well spend time, money, and resources fighting fires that don’t necessarily matter (i.e. not in the critical path)”. (Heerkens, 2002). Understanding the cost estimate is extremely important as it will drive the project. It took me a long time to understand the concept in relation to my project, as resources were volunteers (not paid) and a lot of the budget came from fees paid by vendors and sponsors.
In hindsight, I would have preferred picking a different type of project- one that I could clearly explain each cost. The biggest frustration and biggest lessons learned came from MS Project. Not being familiar with the application; I struggled completing that assignment. I learned the tool is excellent and hope to use in the near future; however, the PM should not attempt to promise to deliver something without having a basic knowledge of the process or tool being used. I had planned to run the schedule based on a 7 day/ week work schedule; however, could not figure out how to accurately change it in MS Project, so I had to constantly manipulate the tasks and duration to try to fit the timeline. I hope to run the same exercises and use the same tools during the next CrossFit completion I get involved in. I am curious to see how I go about it and see the difference in results.
Dow, W. (2010) Project Management Communications Bible, John Wiley & Sons, 2010. Heldman, K. (2013). PMP: Project Management Professional Exam Study Guide. John Wiley & Sons, 2013 Heerkens, G. (2002) Project Management, McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., 2002 Hill, G. (2009). The Complete Project Management Methodology and Toolkit. CRC Press, 2009. Kleim, R. and Ludin, I. (1998) Project Management Practitioner’s Handbook, AMACOM Books, 1998. Stewart, D. and Wyskida, R. (1995) Cost Estimator’s Reference Manual, John Wiley & Sons, 1995. Upton, J. (2013, May 10). The CrossFit Craze: 5 Reasons You Need to Get In on It. [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/julie-upton/crossfit_b_3240705.html Warburton, R. and Kanabar, V. (2013). The Art and Science of Project Management. RW Press, 2013.