PROJ-587 Advanced Program Management, Week 5 Case Study, A+ Tutorial
The purpose of this case study is to get you used to incorporating Microsoft Project charts and reports directly 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 and to include MS Project views directly in the document to illustrate your points for your reader.
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 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: Please read carefully and plan ahead.
- Get am early start on this important assignment. It constitutes 20% of your entire grade for the course.
- 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–in a single MS Word document.]
- Also, take time to practice capturing images from the MS Project reports and pasting them as graphics into your single Word document (!!!) so that you submit just one self-contained document that contains everything your “manager” needs to know.
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 work-out 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. Since the core of the product has already been produced, the project to introduce UltraMAX to the work-out world really boils down to seeing if UltraMAX produces as good of results in women as 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 have given you 175 WORKING days (NOT calendar 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 January 30, 2012. (NOTE: This 2012 date MUST be the start date for your project in this Case Study!)
You have been given a team of four individuals:
- Leontyne, an analyst who is new to NutroBalance but who can help you recruit and screen test subjects
- Tristan, a senior level analyst who has conducted drug studies for NutroBalance before
- Rinaldo, an IT programmer
- Norma, a statistician who is highly competent at analyzing and interpreting results.
Initiating the Project
The following chart shows the 15 tasks in the project, their duration, predecessors, and resources assigned to the task.
Identify Target Consumers
Recruit Test Subjects
Screen Test Subjects
Finalize Test Subjects
Develop Data Analysis Database
Develop Hypothetical Test Data
Test the Subjects
Test Database Using Hypothetical Test Data
Review Database Test Results
Input Actual Data into Database
Verify Accuracy of Input Data
Analyze Actual Data
Prepare Findings Report
After giving you this information, your manager, Ulrica, sends you an e-mail and asks you for the number of days to complete the UltraMAX testing project and the corresponding completion date. She would also like to know which tasks are critical to completing the project on time.
For SECTION 1 you will “reply” to Ulrica 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, Overview, and then click 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 that 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.]
After you provide Ulrica with the number of days to complete the UltraMAX testing project and the corresponding completion date, Ulrica responds that she thinks the original estimate is “cutting it close.” She says that if you can make sure the schedule doesn’t slip you might be all right. To that point, she is forwarding along some additional information on the cost of your resources (see table below.)
After sending you the resource information, Ulrica has asked that you manipulate your schedule to incorporate this resource information (i.e., level the resources). She would like a preliminary project analysis and supporting reports sent to him via e-mail so she may copy and paste it into her weekly status report. She 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 to 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 (remember to use the January 30, 2012 date for this Case.)
- Length of project
- Estimated cost of the project
- Expected completion date.
Discuss whether or not there were any resources 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 Ulrica 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 on Workload, then 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 that you include your answers to Sections 1 and 3. You will not receive feedback from your instructor prior to moving onto 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. Read all about baselines at the Microsoft web site!
A little over 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 reported durations for the first three completed tasks.)
Identify Target Consumers
Recruit Test Subjects
Screen Test Subjects
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 must also insert copies (not links!!) of reports and other views that you have generated in MS Project directly into your single Word document. [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 that you include your answers to Sections 1 and 2.]
Expectations and Rubric
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 must be submitted in ONE single Word document. You will need to capture your MS Project reports, graphics, etc. as screen captures so that you can insert them into your Word document to simulate what you would normally submit to a manager who would want to see the entire communication in one single unit.
(Remember that most non-PMs will not be equipped with specialized software like MS Project, so they’ll rely on you to present the relevant info to them in a format they can open and read. Start early, and get plenty of practice in presenting MS Project data within a single Word Document!!! This is a valuable skill that will be important in subsequent courses and in your professional careers.)
SECTION 1: Correct Completion Date and Length of Project
SECTION 1: Clarity of Response to Manager
SECTION 2: Correct Manipulation of Resource Leveling
SECTION 2: Clarity of Response to Manager
SECTION 3: Creative Ideas to Shorten Schedule
SECTION 3: Comprehensive Executive Summary to Board