Software projects versus other types of project

Many of the techniques of general project management are applicable to software project management, but Fred Brooks pointed out that the products of software projects have certain characteristics that make them different. One way of perceiving software project management is as the process of making visible that which is invisible. Invisibility When a physical artefact such as a bridge or road is being constructed the progress being made can actually be seen. With software, progress is not...

Formulating a network model

The first stage in creating a network model is to represent the activities and their interrelationships as a graph. In CPM we do this by representing activities as links (arrowed lines) in the graph - the nodes (circles) representing the events of activities starting and finishing. In Chapter 2 we saw how Amanda used her Product Breakdown to obtain an activity network. Figure 6.7 shows the fragment of her network that was discussed in that chapter and Figure 6.8 shows how this network would...

Step Estimate effort for each activity

Step 5.1 Carry out bottom-up estimates Some top-down estimates of effort, cost and duration will already have been done (see Step 3.6). Chapter 5 on Software At this point, estimates of the staff effort and other resources required, and the Estimation deals with this probable elapsed time needed for each activity will need to be produced. The topic in more detail. method of arriving at each of these estimates will vary depending on the type of The individual activity estimates of effort should...

Step Identify project scope and objectives

The activities in this step ensure that all the parties to the project agree on the objectives and are committed to the success of the project. A danger to be avoided is overlooking people who are affected by the project. Step 1.1 Identify objectives and practical measures of the effectiveness in meeting those objectives We discussed earlier the need for agreed objectives for a project and ways of measuring the success in achieving those objectives. The project objectives for the Brightmouth...

Creating the framework

Creating Project Framework

Exercising control over a project and ensuring that targets are met is a matter of regular monitoring, finding out what is happening, and comparing it with current targets. If there is a mismatch between the planned outcomes and the actual ones then either replanning is needed to bring the project back on target or the target will have to be revised. Figure 9.1 illustrates a model of the project control cycle and shows how, once the initial project plan has been published, project control is a...

Costbenefit evaluation techniques

We would consider proceeding with a project only where the benefits outweigh the costs. However, in order to choose among projects, we need to take into account the timing of the costs and benefits as well as the benefits relative to the size of the investment. Consider the project cash flow estimates for four projects at IOE shown in Exercise 3.2 Table 3.2. Negative values represent expenditure and positive values income. Rank the four projects in order of financial desirability and make a...

Understanding behaviour

People with practical experience of working on projects invariably identify the handling of people as one of the most important aspects of project management. What people like Amanda and Brigette will want to know is whether the effective and sensitive management of staff comes only from experience or whether guidance can be usefully sought from writers on the topic. The field of social science known as organizational behaviour (OB) helps. This has evolved theories that try to explain people's...

Cash flow forecasting

Positive Cash Flow Cycle Images

As important as estimating the overall costs and benefits of a project is the forecasting of the cash flows that will take place and their timing. A cash flow forecast will indicate when expenditure and income will take place (Figure 3.2). Figure 3.2 Typical product Ufe cycle cash flow. Typically products generate a negative cash flow during their development followed by a positive cash flow over their operating life. There might be decommissioning costs at the end of a product's life Figure...

Getting the project back to target

A contingency plan should, of course, already exist as a result of the risk analysis methods described in Chapter 7. The schedule is not sacrosanct - it is a plan that should be adhered to so long as it is relevant and cost-effective. Almost any project will, at one time or another, be subject to delays and unexpected events. One of the tasks of the project manager is to recognize when this is happening or, if possible, about to happen and, with the minimum delay and disruption to the project...

The objectives of activity planning

Chapter 11 discusses motivation in more detail. This co-ordination will normally form part of Programme Management. In addition to providing project and resource schedules, activity planning aims to achieve a number of other objectives which may be summarized as follows. Feasibility assessment Is the project possible within required timescales and resource constraints It is not until we have constructed a detailed plan that we can forecast a completion date with any reasonable knowledge of its...

Step Identify project products and activities

Project Design Flow Diagram

The more detailed planning of the individual activities that will be needed now takes place. The longer term planning is broad and in outline, while the more immediate tasks are planned in some detail. Step 4.1 Identify and describe project products (or deliverables) In general there can be no project products that do not have activities that create them. Wherever possible, we ought also to ensure the reverse that there are no activities that do not produce a tangible product. Making sure we...

Techniques to help enhance software quality

Gerald Weinberg, The Psychology of Computer Programming, Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1971. The creation of an early working model of a system might still be useful as the creation of prototypes shows. So far in this chapter we have looked at the steps a customer might take to ensure the quality of software produced by an outside supplier. We now need to look at what techniques a project team might wish to employ to help them improve their own software development processes. Three main themes emerge....

Calculating the z values

The z value is calculated for each node that has a target date. It is equivalent to the number of standard deviations between the node's expected and target dates. It is calculated using the formula where te is the expected date and 7 the target date. Exercise 7.7 The z value for event 4 is (10 - 9.00) 0.53 1.8867. Calculate the z values for the other events with target dates in the network shown in Figure 7.4. Converting z values to probabilities A z value may be converted to the probability...

Identifying resource requirements

The first step in producing a resource allocation plan is to list the resources that will be required along with the expected level of demand. This will normally be done by considering each activity in turn and identifying the resources required. It is likely, however, that there will also be resources required that are not activity specific but are part of the project's infrastructure (such as the project manager) or required to support other resources (office space, for example, might be...

Using dummy activities

Activity Network Diagram Dummy

When two paths within a network have a common event although they are, in other respects independent, a logical error such as that illustrated in Figure 6.13 might occur. Suppose that, in a particular project, it is necessary to specify a certain piece of hardware before placing an order for it and before coding the software. Before coding the software it is also necessary to specify the appropriate data structures, although clearly we do not need to wait for this to be done before the hardware...

Network planning models

CPM was developed by the Du Pont Chemical Company who published the method in 1958, claiming that it had saved them 1 million in its first year of use. These project scheduling techniques model the project's activities and their relationships as a network. In the network, time flows from left to right. These techniques were originally developed in the 1950s - the two best known being CPM (Critical Path Method) and PERT (Program Evaluation Review Technique). More recently a variation on these...

Activities covered by software project management

Activities Software

A software project is concerned not only with the actual writing of software. In fact, where a software application is bought in 'off-the-shelf', there might be no software writing as such. This is still fundamentally a software project because so many of the other elements associated with this type of project are present. Usually, there are three successive processes that bring a new system into being l. The feasibility study This is an investigation to decide whether a prospective project is...

Further exercises

Take a look at Amanda's project schedule shown in Figure 8.7. Identify those activities scheduled to last more than three weeks and describe how she might monitor progress on each of them on a fortnightly or weekly basis. 2. Amanda's Gantt chart at the end of week 17 (Figure 9.5) indicates that two activities are running late. What effect might this have on the rest of the project How might Amanda mitigate the effects of this delay 3. Table 9.2 illustrates Amanda's earned value calculations...

Projects and activities

Resource Breakdown Structure

Before we try to identify the activities that make up a project it is worth reviewing what we mean by a project and its activities and adding some assumptions that will be relevant when we start to produce an activity plan. a project is composed of a number of inter-related activities a project may start when at least one of its activities is ready to start a project will be completed when all of the activities it encompasses have been completed an activity must have a clearly defined start and...

Prioritizing monitoring

So far we have assumed that all aspects of a project will receive equal treatment in terms of the degree of monitoring applied. We must not forget, however, that monitoring takes time and uses resources that might sometimes be put to better use In this section we list the priorities we might apply in deciding levels of monitoring. Critical path activities Any delay in an activity on the critical path will cause a delay in the completion date for the project. Critical path activities are...

Stages in contract placement

We are now going to discuss the typical stages in awarding a contract. This discussion assumes that a feasibility study has already provisionally identified the need for the intended software. Before potential supplier can be approached, you need to have a clear set of requirements. Two points need to be emphasized here. The first is that it is easy for this step to be skimped where the user has many day-to-day pressures and not much time to think about future developments. In this situation,...

Selecting the most appropriate process model

See Appendixes C and D for overviews of Euromethod and ISO 12207, both of which offer advice on process model selection. Both Euromethod and ISO 12207 provide advice on this. Euromethod distinguishes between the construction of an application and its installation. It is possible to use different approaches for these two stages. For example, an application could be constructed using a one-shot strategy but then be released to its users in increments. The only combinations of construction and...

Software effort estimation techniques

Barry Boehm, in his classic work on software effort models, identified the main ways of deriving estimates of software development effort as algorithmic models - which use 'effort drivers' representing characteristics of the target system and the implementation environment to predict effort expert judgement - where the advice of knowledgeable staff is solicited analogy - where a similar, completed, project is identified and its actual effort is used as a basis for the new project Parkinson -...