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PROJ-587 Advanced Program Management Week 5 Case Study

PROJ-587 Advanced Program Management Week 5 Case Study
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Case Study

Purpose | Background | Requirements| Expectations and Rubric

Purpose

The purpose of this case study is to get you used to incorporating Microsoft Project charts and reports into your project’s progress reports. By now you should be able to work through the mechanics of loading tasks, predecessors, resources, and costs into MS Project. But the real challenge facing project managers is how to interpret the data in MS Project and how to make it “useful” for you and your stakeholders.

In this case study you will be given a scenario and asked to load the project information into Microsoft Project. However, the purpose of this case study is bigger than just properly loading the Microsoft Project file. This case study requires you to interpret the MS Project results and incorporate the issues and results in your communication with key stakeholders. Your output of this case study explores the “softer” side of project management, including how to communicate your results to your key stakeholders in a clear and concise manner.

The point of the case study is to show you that projects experience change over time, which forces you, the project manager, to modify and adapt your project. This case study is broken into three sections (Sections 1, 2, and 3). In each section you will be given some information on your project and then be asked to respond to some of your stakeholders. Even though there are three sections in the case study, you will only submit ONE document, due Week 5. This document will include your answers for all three parts of the case study. [NOTE: Do not be confused! It is very important that you understand that while the case study is broken into three sections, you will not be submitting your answer to each section separately, and you will not receive feedback from your instructor after each section. Rather, you will work through and submit your responses to all of the sections at one time.]

Background

NutroBalance produces a line of weight-loss supplements and nutritional snacks. A couple of years ago it introduced Ultra, a weight-loss supplement geared primarily towards men who lift weights and do cardiovascular exercises. The Ultra pills have been a big success. Part of NutroBalance’s strategic goals is to build off of that success by formulating the Ultra pills to target other segments of the workout population. NutroBalance’s board of directors has decided to invest in a pill called UltraMAX geared toward women who also lift weights and do cardiovascular exercises. Because the core of the product has already been produced, the project to introduce UltraMAX to the workout world really boils down to seeing whether UltraMAX produces results in women as good as those that Ultra does in men. 

You have been chosen to be the project manager of this weight-loss drug study. The board of directors has fast-tracked this project and has given you 140 days to identify your target consumers, have them test the product, and then analyze and report on the results. Your project (i.e., Task #1) will commence on February 22, 2010.

You have been given a team of four individuals. 

Sarah, an analyst who is new to NutroBalance but who can help you recruit and screen test subjects Robert, a senior-level analyst who has conducted drug studies for NutroBalance before Tony, an IT programmer Lisa, a statistician who is highly competent at analyzing and interpreting results.

Requirements

Initiating the Project

The following chart shows the 13 tasks in the project, their duration, their predecessors, and the resources assigned to each.

ID

Task Name

Duration

Predecessors

Resource

1

Identify Target Consumers

3

Sarah

2

Recruit Test Subjects

10

1

Sarah

3

Screen Test Subjects

20

2

Sarah

4

Finalize Test Subjects

5

3

Sarah

5

Prepare Product

10

4

Robert

6

Prepare Placebo

2

4

Robert

7

Develop Data Analysis Database

12

4

Tony

8

Develop Hypothetical Test Data

2

4

Sarah

9

Test the Subjects

65

5, 6

Robert

10

Test Database Using Hypothetical Test Data

5

7, 8

Tony

11

Input Actual Data into Database

7

9, 10

Lisa

12

Analyze Actual Data

8

11

Lisa

13

Prepare Findings Report

10

12

Lisa

SECTION 1.

After giving you this information, your manager, Alex, sends you an e-mail and asks you for the number of days to complete the UltraMAX testing project and the corresponding completion date. He would also like to know which tasks are critical to completing the project on time. 

For SECTION 1, you will reply to Alex by writing, in a paragraph or less, the expected completion date and the tasks on the critical path. You should also include a copy of the Critical Tasks Report that can be generated from MS Project. [HINT: Go to the Report menu, click on Reports, then Overview, then Critical Tasks.]

[NOTE: Your response to Section 1 is due in Week 5 at the same time your response to Sections 2 and 3 are due. Please include your response to Section 1 in the same document in which you include your answers to Sections 2 and 3. You will not receive feedback from your instructor prior to moving on to your work on Sections 2 and 3.]

Resource Considerations

After you provide Alex with the number of days to complete the UltraMAX testing project and the corresponding completion date, Alex responds that he thinks the original estimate is cutting it close.He says that if you can make sure the schedule doesn’t slip you might be all right.  To that point, he is forwarding some additional information on the cost of your resources (see table below.) 

Resource

Std.Rate

Ovt. Rate

Sarah

$50.00

$75.00

Robert

$30.00

$45.00

Tony

$25.00

$37.50

Lisa

$20.00

$30.00

SECTION 2.

After sending you the resource information, Alex has asked that you manipulate your schedule to incorporate this resource information (i.e., level the resources). He would like a preliminary project analysis and supporting reports sent to him via e-mail so he may copy and paste it into his weekly status report. He provides the following guidelines:

“In preparing your preliminary project analysis, I would like to see no more than two to three paragraphs stating the pertinent information for the project. The first paragraph should be a recap of the project so the uninformed reader knows which project it is. The status of the project should also be discussed, including the start date, length of the project, estimated cost of the project, and expected completion date. Discuss whether or not there were any resource constraints. If the need arose to level the resources, explain how it impacted the schedule. If the schedule has pushed out beyond the timeframe the board of directors gave you, provide suggestions for reigning in the timeframe. Also, briefly analyze any risks that you may encounter during the course of the project.”

For SECTION 2 you will reply to Alex by writing the status of the project in two to three paragraphs. You should also include a copy of the Overallocated Resources Report and the Resource Usage Report that can be generated from MS Project. [HINT: Go to the Report menu, click on Assignments, and then click Overallocated Resources. Also go to the Report menu, click Workload, then click Resource Usage.]

[NOTE: Your response to Section 2 is due in Week 5 at the same time your response to Sections 1 and 3 are due. Please include your response to Section 2 in the same document in which you include your answers to Sections 1 and 3. You will not receive feedback from your instructor prior to moving on to your work on Section 3.]

Managing the Project

It is now time to kick off the project. Before the first task begins, you should set a baseline of your project in MS Project. 

Approximately a month and a half go by and your team is just finishing up screening of the test subjects. Yikes, the project is behind schedule and over budget! (Check out the actual duration for the first three tasks.)

ID

Task Name

Actual Duration

1

Identify Target Consumers

2

2

Recruit Test Subjects

10

3

Screen Test Subjects

30

SECTION 3.

Now it’s time to report on the project status. This time your project status will be in the form of an executive summary report that will be distributed at the monthly board of directors meeting. This report should be one to two pages in length, plus supporting MS Project reports. It should provide an overview of the project, what has happened to date, and the expected completion date and cost if all tasks remain on schedule and with their original cost and durations. However, the bulk of the executive summary should introduce ways to correct the project and get it back on track. You should report on how your ideas will potentially affect schedule, risk, quality, and cost. [HINT: Be creative here. Come up with ideas.  Develop a story on how likely your ideas are, how you can implement them, and how your ideas might affect the time-cost tradeoff.]

For SECTION 3 you will report on your project to the board of directors by writing an executive summary report. You should also include copies of reports that you have generated in MS Project. [HINT: Check out the Reports Menu, Current Activity Report, Variance Table, and Tracking Gantt.] You may also include MS Project reports for your “what if” scenarios on how to get your project back on track. However, if you include MS Project Reports, you need to reference them in your executive summary report, because you cannot expect the board of directors to read and interpret the reports without your guidance. [HINT: You might include the Budget Report, the Cash Flow Report, or a Cost Variance Report to show how your “what if” scenarios could affect budget. Check out these reports under the Reports menu.]

[NOTE: Your response to Section 3 is due in Week 5 at the same time your response to Sections 1 and 2 are due. Please include your response to Section 3 in the same document in which you include your answers to Sections 1 and 2.]

Expectations and Rubric

Case Expectations

Your answers to Sections 1, 2, and 3 are due in Week 5. You will submit your document in the Dropbox located on the silver tab at the top of this page. Your responses to Sections 1, 2, and 3 should be drafted in ONE Word document. It would be desirable if you could capture your MS Project reports in Word and include them in your Word document, but if you cannot, then submit them as separate documents in the Dropbox. Make sure you are very specific in the naming convention of your MS Project documents so that the instructor clearly understands which MS Project file goes with which section of the case study. (140 points)

Case Rubric

Category

Points

%

SECTION 1: Correct Completion Date and Length of Project

 10

 5%

SECTION 1: Clarity of Response to Manager

 20

 10%

SECTION 2: Correct Manipulation of Resource Leveling

 10

 5%

SECTION 2: Clarity of Response to Manager

 30

 15%

SECTION 3: Creative Ideas to Shorten Schedule

40

20%

SECTION 3: Comprehensive Executive Summary to Board

80

40%

Format Requirements

10

5%

Total

 200

100%