Project managment for information system- q&a

Chapter 1 Managing change

Q1 Figure 1.76 shows how bad an implementation can become. Action needs to be taken to prevent this kind of situation. What would you recommend should be done?

Q2 You are the project manager for a new management accounting system that will provide monthly profit and loss accounts to a chain of 30 computer dealerships, each of which is franchised to its local owner/manager. They have all done their own accounting before. What change issues would you expect to encounter? Does the fact that they are PC dealerships make any difference? Why might they have joined together in the chain?

Q3 Consider the organisation that employs you or where you study. What is its culture? Why does it have that particular culture? What organisational culture would give you most satisfaction as an employee? Where might you find such an employer? Given your preferred organisational culture, what would it mean for you as an employee in terms of your responsibilities and obligations?

Q4 You have to design a ‘hearts and minds’ programme connected with the implementation of a new system for the recording and management of stock in a book-publishing company and for the supply of books to booksellers. What would be the main stages of such a programme?

Chapter 2 Business strategy and information systems

Q1 Why is it important for project managers to understand the strategy of the organisation that uses their services?

Q2 If you knew about an organisation’s strategy, could you suggest IS applications that would support it? For example, how could a large supermarket chain use information systems for cost reduction, or for a strategy based on differentiation?

Q3 If you had to develop a strategy for a small software house employing 50 or so professional computer people, how would you go about it? What criteria would you use to test whether or not the strategy was sound?

Chapter 3 The business case

Q1 At what point in the project lifecycle should the business case be prepared?

Q2 What should be the role of the project manager in relation to the business case?

Q3 Explain the term ‘cost/benefit analysis’

Q4 What do you understand by the terms ‘tangible’ and ‘intangible’ when applied to costs and benefits?

Q5 What is meant by the term ‘benefits realisation’ and why is it important?

Chapter 4 The organisational framework

Q1 1 How many different types of customer may there be for a systems development project? Who are they? What kind of relationship and reporting arrangements should the project manager have with the sponsor?

Q2 Describe the roles of (a) the sponsor and (b) the project manager

Q3 What are the principal problems of managing projects within a completely functional organisation structure?

Q4 What are the pros and cons of a ‘pure’ project organisation compared with a project operating within a matrix structure

Q5 In a PRINCE2® project structure there are formal committees, a project board and specific roles. What is your opinion about the value of this kind of arrangement? How do you see it working in large and small projects? Could it be useful for projects outside IT?

Chapter 5 The programme and project support office

Q1 Explain why the concept of PPSO arose in the first place.

Q2 What are the advantages to an organisation of having a PPSO?

Q3 What conflicts are likely to arise between project managers and PPSO staff?

Q4 What skills are useful when working in PPSO?

Chapter 6 Development lifecycles and approaches

Q1 You have been asked to take charge of a system development where the customer requires about 50 per cent of the functionality very urgently to meet a business opportunity but where the remaining functions can be delivered over the next few years. Which of the various development lifecycles do you think would be most suitable for this project and why?

Q2 What would you say are the principal advantages and disadvantages of the sequential approach to system development offered by the waterfall and ‘V’ lifecycle models?

Q3 Some critics have said that the use of structured methods, such as SSADM, increases both delivery time and bureaucracy. Do you think these criticisms are justified and what are the claimed advantages in the use of structured methods?

Q4 Increasing interest is being taken in the use of rapid application development. Why is this, and are there any dangers associated with the RAD approach?

Q5 Consider how you would organise your project team for a RAD-type project. What leadership practices would it require from the project leader and what would the team members have to do? How, and at which points, would you involve the users?

Q6 What have RAD and extreme programming got in common? What are the claimed advantages of these approaches?

Q7 Why are approaches such as the Soft Systems Methodology, the Socio-Technical Approach and Business Process Reengineering relevant to IS project managers?

Chapter 7 The profile of a project

Q1 What work goes on prior to project start-up?

Q2 Describe the products that typically result from the following project stages: Project Start-up; Analysis of Requirements; Design Integration and Testing.

Q3 Explain the incremental approach to testing represented by the sequence: unit (module) test; integration test; system test; acceptance test.

Q4 From what product should the acceptance criteria for a project be derived and why?

Q5 Why is it important that the project team and the users develop and agree a process model for a project?

Chapter 8 Project planning: understanding the work

Q1 Give three reasons why it is essential to plan an IS project in detail before starting work on it.

Q2 Ideally, the requirement for an IS project would be specified in some detail before planning begins. If the requirement is not detailed enough, what steps can the project manager take to improve the likelihood of the project’s success?

Q3 In essence there are two basic ways of breaking down a project into plannable chunks: the use of a work breakdown structure or a product breakdown structure. Contrast the advantages and disadvantages of these approaches.

Q4 4 What do you understand by the term dependency? How can project dependencies be represented for planning purposes?

Q5 Define the terms “product” and “work package” and explain how these are related to each other.

Q6 Network diagrams and bar charts have different parts to play in planning a project. Where is each of these tools used and what does it show?

Chapter 9 Project planning: estimating

Q1 Explain three reasons why estimating for IS projects has a poor reputation and a bad track record. What can be done about these problems?

Q2 The analogy method of estimating is often used to produce broad-brush estimates at the start of a project. Why is this method particularly suited to this application?

Q3 The analysis effort and programming methods both rest on the principle of extrapolating the total development effort from detailed estimates of one phase of the project. Describe the approach taken in each of these methods and show in what circumstances each might best be employed.

Q4 The Delphi technique aims to achieve a consensus estimate from the efforts of a number of estimators. How is this achieved and what is the advantage of the Delphi technique over, for example, a round-table discussion?

Q5 Describe how you would go about estimating for the following supporting project activities and why you would take your chosen approach to each.
a) Project management
b) Team leading/supervision
c) Quality control
d) Familiarisation.

Q6 State three factors that could influence the estimates for an IS project and how you would attempt to adjust the estimates for these factors.

Chapter 10 Scheduling and resourcing

Q1 Explain the difference between effort and elapsed time. What is the significance of this difference for project planning purposes?

Q2 Scheduling a project involves understanding the degree to which project tasks can be partitioned. What is meant by this term and what effect does partitioning have on the scheduling process?

Q3 In long-term project planning, it is wise to assume that staff will be available for project work for less than 100 per cent of the total available time. What factors will reduce staff availability and what adjustments should be made for them?

Q4 What do you understand by the term project milestone? How would you decide how many milestones to show on your project plan?

Q5 The PRINCE2® project management method envisages a hierarchy of plans. Describe this hierarchy.

Chapter 11 Monitoring progress

Q1 How is effort monitored on a project? It is important that the effort to be spent on activities is reassessed on a regular basis – why is this so vital?

Q2 Staff time is usually the principal cost component of an IS project. Describe five other areas where project costs could arise.

Q3 Describe three methods than could be used to exercise quality control and explain the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Q4 In what circumstances might you consider increasing the volume and/or frequency of quality control checks? When might you decrease their volume or frequency?

Q5 What does the term ‘earned value analysis’ mean? What additional insights into the dynamics of a project is afforded by the use of EVA.

Q6 Explain these terms: actual cost of work performed (ACWP); budgeted cost of work performed (BCWP); budgeted cost of work scheduled (BCWS).

Chapter 12 Exercising control

Q1 What is meant by the term the triple constraint? What are the three elements of the triple constraint and why is an understanding of their relative weight important in exercising control over a project?

Q2 Your project is behind schedule and you are considering adding extra staff to the team. What would be the potential advantages and disadvantages of this approach?

Q3 In what circumstances might you (a) increase or (b) decrease the amount of supervision given to a team member?

Q4 Changes often bedevil IS projects. What steps are required to ensure that proper change control is exercised on a project?

Q5 Explain the difference between change control and configuration management and the relationship between them.

Chapter 13 Reporting progress

Q1 What factors would you consider when deciding on the frequency with which you would report progress to (a) senior IS management, and (b) customer management?

Q2 What is meant by the term exception reporting? What are the benefits and the disadvantages of this type of reporting?

Q3 What are the benefits to the project manager in providing regular progress reports to the project team members?

Q4 Explain the fillowingfollowing terms used in the PRINCE2® project management method:
a) Project initiation
b) End stage assessment
c) Highlight report
d) Checkpoint.

Chapter 14 Quality

Q1 How could the quality culture behaviours described in section 1214.3 be applied in a hospital?

Q2 Why do you suppose there are an increasing number of organisations concerned with the development of quality practices for IS development?

Q3 What is the purpose of a Quality Plan? Who should create it?

Q4 Do you agree with what Dick Brandon said about sex in section 1214.10? Do not take this question too seriously!

Chapter 15 Risk management

Q1 Why is the use of risk management techniques becoming increasingly important in IS projects?

Q2 Describe a five-stage process for project risk management.

Q3 Three factors that need to be assessed when considering risks are likelihood, impact and urgency. Explain what is meant by each of these terms and show how each might be

Q4 Risk actions are of two types: avoidance actions and mitigation actions. Describe the relationship between these types of risk action and where each might be employed.

Q5 Describe the characteristics needed in a risk owner.

Chapter 16 Value engineering and value management

Q1 Explain the difference between value management and value engineering.

Q2 What is meant by the term value tree?

Q3 How can value management be used to compare different possible design solutions?

Q4 Once a project is under way, how can value management be used to evaluate proposed changes?

Chapter 17 Selling the project

Q1 How would you assess the importance of sales skills to a project manager? Are they, in your view, increasing or decreasing in importance? Why do you think there is this change? Is it more important to understand selling or buying?

Q2 Persuading someone to buy is a complex process. Why is this? Is the process inherently complex, or is it because so many people are involved?

Q3 If selling is an ‘asking process’, how could you use it to help you sell some extra functionality to a system under development?

Chapter 18 Managing stakeholders

Q1 Stakeholders have different interests or ‘stakes’ in a project. How can you determine where to put your management effort?

Q2 What is meant by the term managing expectations? Why is expectation management an important part of the project manager’s job? What influences a customer’s expectations?

Q3 Why is it important for the project manager to establish a network of contacts within the IS organisation and also within the user organisation? In what circumstances can these networks be useful?

Chapter 19 Managing suppliers

Q1 Describe three situations in which an IS project may need or wish to use subcontractors.

Q2 It is important that the contracts between the main contractor and the customer and between the main contractor and subcontractors are back-to-back; what is meant by this term?

Q3 Subcontracts often include penalty clauses to give the main contractor protection in the case of the supplier’s poor performance. Why are penalty clauses not the complete answer to safeguarding the main contractor’s position?

Q4 Describe four methods that can be used to monitor supplier performance.

Q5 Explain how quality control can be applied to a subcontractor’s work.

Chapter 20 Leadership

Q1 Refer back to the introduction and consider again the leadership challenge at the end of the section. What kind of project management would you need to deliver to have people volunteer to work on your projects?

Q2 How can Maslow and Hertzberg’sHerzberg theories of motivation help you to organise your project team and the way work is allocated?

Q4 Think of a situation at home, at work, at university or in a club to which you belong. It is a situation that involves you. You want to change the present circumstances and set a new basis for the future. Using the behavioural commitments at the end of section 18.4, what could you do to change things?

Chapter 21 Performance management

Q1 You are dissatisfied with the general level of performance of one of your team. The quality of work is below your expectations. How will you deal with this?

Q2 A member of your team exhibits disruptive behaviour. Her work is good but she is not a team player. The consequences are that she does not contribute to team effort and her colleagues find her difficult to work with; the project team secretary has refused to work with her at all. How could this serious problem have arisen? What can be done now?

Q3 Describe the process of setting objectives. What might be three objectives for a newly appointed junior programmer?

Chapter 22 Project teams

Q1 Prepare an interview plan for the post of Business Analyst in your team.

Q2 When you first assemble your project team, what can you do to build team spirit? What behaviours are the different individuals likely to exhibit during this team-building process? How do you demonstrate your leadership?

Chapter 23 Managing the project climate

Q1 Consider a project manager with a team of 15 to 20 people: a mixture of analysts, designers, programmers and support staff. The project also uses some specialist staff on a part-time basis. How could the project manager influence the working environment of such a team so as to get the best out of them? What are the behaviours that they could exhibit that would have an effect on the working style of the project team?

Q2 Conflict and stress arise naturally in IS project teams. Some people argue that a little of both is useful, but everyone agrees that too much is destructive. How could you organise your project team to minimise the destructive effect of conflict and stress?

Chapter 24 The project manager

Q1 How does the ‘vision of the project manager’ in this chapter relate to the way you see the job? Are there aspects of the job that do not appear in the vision? Why might that be?

Q2 Consider the skills and qualities of project managers described in the ‘developmental approach’. Can you add to these? How far do you see yourself being proficient in these skills? How could you develop further?