Project Management techniques and life cycle model
This report is prepared to analyst and review the project management techniques and life cycle model being used in the office relocation project of Union Apparel International, a fast growing garment manufacturer in Hong Kong. The office relocation project is aimed to provide a large office area integrated with modern showcase and new technology to facilitate the grow of the company.
The report is structured to describe and illustrate the mentioned project by defining what is a project. Analysing the project life cycle of the project including initiation, planning, executing, controlling and closing process.
Furthermore, the report illustrates what life cycle models are suggested by the theory, how the project is change from one phase to the next, the significant activities in each stage of project and the outcome of each stage.
At the conclusion, the report illustrates the importing findings in achieving a project success.
Table of Contents
Executive Summary 2
1 Introduction 4
2 Project Background 5
3 Project Life Cycle 6
3.1 What is a project? 6
3.2 What is a life cycle and how can a project have a life cycle? 6
3.3 Suggested life cycle model 7
3.4 How many stages or phases does the project seem to have? 8
3.4.1 Stage 1 - Initiation 8
3.4.2 Stage 2 - Planning 8
3.4.3 Stage 3 - Executing 9
3.4.4 Stage 4 - Controlling 10
3.4.5 Stage 5 - Closing 10
3.5 What represents the change from one phase to the next? 11
3.6 Significant activities and Outcomes 12
4 Conclusion 13
List of Figures
Figure 3.1 Typical Project Cost and Staffing Level
across the Project Life Cycle 7
Figure 3.2 Time schedule of the Project 9
Figure 3.3 Project Plan Outline 9
Figure 3.4 Project Management Process presenting the change
from one phase to the next 11
This report is prepared to analyst and review the project management techniques and life cycle model being used in the office relocation project of Union Apparel International.
The report is structured to describe and illustrate the mentioned project by the definition of project management and project life cycle. Also, a review conclusion is also include at the end of the report.
Union Apparel International (UAI) is a fast growing garment manufacturer located in Hong Kong with a strong partnership connection with some international brand companies like Closed, Paul Smith, Levis and Tad Baker. There was just only 5 staffs when UAI is started in 2000, including Philip Law, managing director of UAI. With the rapidly grow in business, UAI now have more than 25 staffs and 3 office in separate locations.
And all the staffs are suffering a problem that they have to move in between different locations for daily operation and meetings. Also, there is no space as a showcase to present their new product to their business partners. Philip realized that the problem could affect the operation and also the grow of the company. So, he dedicated Connie, senior operation manager of UAI, to lead a relocation project for UAI to provide a large office area integrated with modern showcase and new technology.
Project Life Cycle
What is a project?
Projects are temporary in nature, while operations are ongoing. Projects have definitive start dates and definitive end dates. The project is completed when the goals and objectives of the project are accomplished. But sometimes, projects end when it's determined that the goals and objectives cannot be accomplished and the project is cancelled. Projects exist to bring about a product or service that hasn't existed before. In this sense, a project is unique. And a successfully project is one that meets or exceeds the expectations of the stakeholders.
Also, a project requires the participant of different parties, which means is multi-organizational. Different mixes of disciplines, functions, resources, trades, and other specializations must be brought together to focus on the achievement of the objectives of the project. (Lewis 1995)
What is a life cycle and how can a project have a life cycle?
A project life cycle are similar to the life cycle that parents experience raising their children to adulthood. Children start out as infants and generate lots of excitement wherever they go. However, not much is known about them at first. So we study them as they grow and assess their needs. Over time, they mature and grow, until one day the parents' job is done.
Projects start out just like this and progress along a similar path. Someone comes up with a great idea for a project and actively solicits support for the project. The project, after being approved, progresses through the intermediate phases to the ending phase, where the project is completed and closed out.
All projects are divided into phases, and all projects, large or small, have a similar life cycle structure. At a minimum, a project will have a beginning or initiation phase, an intermediate phase or phases, and an ending phase. The number of phases depends on the project complexity and its industry. All the collective phases the project progresses through in concert are called the project life cycle.
The end of each phase allows the project manager, stakeholders, and project sponsor the opportunity to determine of the project should continue to the next phase. Project phases evolve through the life cycle in a series of "handoffs". The end of one phase typically marks the beginning of the next. For example, feasibility studies often take place in the beginning phase of a project. The purpose of the feasibility study might be to determine if the project is worth undertaking and whether the project will be profitable for the company. The completion and approval of the feasibility study trigger the beginning of the planning and design phase.
All projects follow the life cycle pattern and, as a result, have the following things in common. In the beginning phase, whish is where the Initiation process occurs, costs are low, and there are few team members assigned to the project. As the project processes, costs and staffing increases and the tapers off at the closing phase. The potential that the project will come to a successful ending is lowest at the beginning of the project with an increasing chance for success as the project progresses through the life cycle stages. Risk is highest at the beginning of the project and gradually decreases the closer the project comes to completion. And stakeholders have the greatest chance of influencing the project in the beginning phases and less and less influence as the project progresses. (Spinner 1997)
Suggested life cycle model
There is no single best way to define an ideal project life cycle. Some organization have established policies that standardize all projects with a single life cycle, while others allow the project management team to choose the most appropriate life cycle for the team's project.
Project life cycle descriptions can be very general or very detailed. Highly detailed descriptions of life cycles can include forms, charts, and checklists to provide structure and control. Most project life cycles share a number of common characteristics:
Phases are generally sequential and are usually defined by some form of technical information transfer or technical component handoff.
Cost and staffing levels are low at the start, peak during the intermediate phases, and drop rapidly as the project draws to a conclusion. Below figure 3.1 illustrates this pattern.
Fig 3.1 Typical Project Cost and Staffing Level across the Project Life Cycle
The level of uncertainty is highest and, hence, risk of failing to achieve the objectives is greatest at the start of the project. The certainty of completion generally gets progressively better as the project continues.
The ability of the stakeholders to influence the final characteristics of the project's product and the final cost of the project is highest at the start, and gets progressive lower as the project continues.
Although many project life cycles have similar phase names with similar deliverables, few life cycles are identical. Some can have four or five phases, but others may have nine or more. Single application areas are known to have significant variations. One organization's software development life cycle can have a single design phase, while another can have separate phases for architectural and detailed design. Subprojects can also have distinct project life cycles.
How many stages or phases does the project seem to have?
The office relocation project for Union Apparel International (UAI) is containing 5 stages in total.
Stage 1 - Initiation
The initiation process occurs at the beginning of the project. Initiation acknowledges that a project, or the next project phase, should begin. Initiation grants the approval to commit the organization's resources to working on the project or phase.
UAI has just only 5 staffs when started in 2000. Since the business is growing rapidly, UAI is now having more than 25 staffs and 3 office in separate locations. And all the staffs are suffering a problem that they have to move in between different locations for daily operation and meetings. And Philip realized that the problem could affect the operation of the company. So, he dedicated Connie, senior operation manager of UAI, to lead the relocation project for UAI.
Stage 2 - Planning
Planning is the process of formulating and revising planning documents to be used throughout the remainder of the project. This process group is where the project requirements are fleshed out and stakeholders are identified. Planning has more processes than any of the other project management processes. The Executing, Controlling and Closing process groups all rely on the Planning process group and the documentation produced during the Planning processes in order to carry out their functions. Project managers will perform frequent iterations of the Planning processes prior project completion. Projects are unique, and as such are never been done before. Therefore, Planning must encompass all areas of project management and consider budgets, activity definition, scope planning, schedule development, risk identification, staff acquisition, procurement planning, and more. The greatest conflicts a project manager will encounter in this process group are project prioritization.
In the project, Connie is given 2 months time and USD$20000 budget. She then decided to use 2 weeks time to search a best fit office place with a real estate company. In the next 4 weeks, she planned for the office decoration and equipment setup. And the final 2 weeks, is used for the migration from the old office to new office.
Also, Connie sorted out a list of scopes that she needed to accomplish:-
The new office should able to adopt the future expansion of the company. (since UAI is growing rapidly, Philip decided to hire at lease 5 more staffs)
A showcase and a big conference room is needed.
Philip would like to have a modern but simple design of the office environment.
The office should be technology-build.
The rental of new office should not exceed more than 20% of the current rental.
Since Connie realized there would be a challenge to take over the whole project. She then decided to find a real estate agent, a total solution provider for office setup and a logistic specialist to take care the movement process.
Fig 3.2 Time schedule of the Project
Fig 3.3 Project Plan Outline
Stage 3 - Executing
The Executing process group involves putting the project plans into action. It's here that the project manager will coordinate and direct project resources to meet the objectives of the project plan. The Executing process group keeps the project plan on track and ensures that future execution of project plans stays in line with project objectives. The Executing process group will utilize the most project time and resources. Costs are usually highest during the Executing process. Project managers will experience the greatest conflicts over schedules in this phase.
In this stage, Connie has to spend a lot of effort to commit the project plan. Base on the project plan, she has 3 major tasks in this stage, find a real estate agent, find a total solution provide to setup the office and equipment and find a logistics company for the movement.
It is easy for her to find a real estate agent, because this is not the first time that UAI is seeking a office location. She get contact with the one who help UAI to find the exist offices. The agent fully understand the requirement of UAI and so Connie could be able to find a new office by 1.5 weeks time. And the most important thing is the rental is just 10% higher than the current rental, which save Connie from a tight budget situation. Also, Connie gained 0.5 weeks time for the remaining tasks.
By the benefit of 0.5 weeks time from the real estate agent, Connie started to contact a total solution provider, called OneSolution, which claimed they can design, decorate and also implement all the equipments for UAI. Connie conducted a meeting with the chief designer of OneSolution, given all requirement to him. But unfortunately, the chief designer estimated that they need 6 weeks time and also 20% more from Connie's budget in order to fulfill UAI's requirement.
Connie was shocked and depressed. She then negotiated with the designer to try to shorten the time frame. And at the seems time, she talked with Philip to have an extra 10% of budget in order to complete the project. Finally, she succeeded in both the negotiation. Philip approved to pay for the extra 10% and the designer also agreed to hire 2 more workers to get the job done.
Afterwards, 3 weeks time is gone, Connie started to find a logistics specialist to carry out the movement work. In this part, Connie just need to compare the price among different vendors, since there are lot of choice in the market. And she could then easily pick one to complete the project.
Stage 4 - Controlling
The Controlling process group is where project performance measurements are taken and analyzed to determine if the project is staying true to the project plan. If it's discovered that variances exist, corrective action is taken to get the project activities aligned with the project plan. This might requires additional passes though the Planning process to realign to the project objectives.
Actually, the Controlling process is not a independent process. Starting from the Planning stage, the project manager should try to apply the control theory. Connie was late because she start up the control idea once she face a difficulty. If she could aware variances (over budget and overtime) may occur, she could then find out possible corrective action to ensure the project is on the right track. In this project, she was partial failed. But her negotiation ability helped her to being defected.
Stage 5 - Closing
The Closing process group is probably the most often skipped process in project management . once the project objectives have been met, most of the project managers are ready to move on to the next project. However, Closing is important as all the project information is gathered now and stored for future reference. The documentation collected during Closing processes can be reviewed and utilized to avert potential problems on future projects. Contract closeout occurs here, and formal acceptance and approval are obtained from project stakeholders.
Finally, Connie's relocation project is completed. She caught the time to get the job done but a little over-budget. She reviewed her job and find that she spent too less time on the planning process. She then added a "lesson learn" session in the documentation and also provided a brief project review to Philip.
Philip found that the new office containing a professional and fresh style, which provide more energy to the teammate as well as him. He also admired Connie that the whole process is smooth, except the due with the solution provider. Philip satisfied with the result, as Connie really did a great job, even though the project is a little bit over the budget.
Fig. 3.4 Project Management Process presenting the change from one phase to the next.
What represents the change from one phase to the next?
Through out the project, the Initiation phase is short. Because there is a need for UAI to move to a new office to adopt the grow of the company, the dedication of Connie as the project manager is significantly identify the move the next phase. Or say, the approval of the project by Philip is the sign to move to the next phase.
In the Planning phase, Connie is required to plan all the necessary items, such as the scopes, the requirement, the duration, the budget or any others. Once she has prepared all the items, she is then ready to work it out. The completion of the planning list, or say the action list, will let the project manager to move to the next phase, the Executing phase.
In the Executing phase, most likely is the start time of the Controlling phase. Because the project manager just need to perform all the items which shown on the action list. By controlling every execution steps, the project could then be running on track, on time and also on budget limit. The completion of the last item of the action list means the end of the Executing phase and also the Controlling phase. At this moment, the project goal is achieved, but not the project is complete.
After the project goal is achieved, then the Closing phase is started. Documentation should then be well prepared. Also, project manager should also forecast and analyst any potential problem would come up in the future. A finial review should also be provided a review picture to the whole problem. Also, the review is important for the development of the next related problem. After the above items is produced, the project could then said is completed.
Significant activities and Outcomes
In the Initiation phase, the existing environment drives the manage director to think about for a chance. The drive of idea is the significant activities in this phase, which the outcome is the establish of this project and also a project manager, Connie.
In next, the Planning stage, Connie is required to work out a "plan" for the project. That means Connie has to figure out what is "do need" and what is "don't need". The process to find out the "do" and "don't", is the key task in this phase. By find out the "do" and "don't", Connie then make out a action list, which is the most important thing in the whole project. Without a clear action list, the project will never get completed.
On the Executing phase, Connie is required to work out the action list, that is execution. Her significant activities is executing the tasks listed, controlling the tasks (to sure every thing is on track), provide corrective action once variance is found. And also communication and negotiation are also the important activities that she has to carry out. And the outcome, very simple, is to complete and exceed the project goal.
Finally, is the Closing phase. The project manager is required to complete all the documentation and review, since it is valuable to have reference and analytical figure for future projects. Also, project manager is required to seek the acceptance of the stakeholder, which means the project outcomes is meet the project requirement.
Success of project is achieving the project objectives within time and cost, at the desired performance and technology level. Utilizing the assigned resources effectively and efficiently and accept by clients.
Following are the important findings in achieving a project success:-
Define clear project goals which is specific, measureable, accurate, realistic and time bound. Make sure the goals are clear to the whole organization and it must be in line with the general goal of the organization. Ensure the organization have the necessary technology and training to support the project development.
Create Project plans and schedules to measure actual performance against budget and time allowances. Identity the required skills for personnel to facilitate the project completion and make contingency plans in case the project is off schedule.
Understand the degree to which clients are personally involved in the implementation process which causing great variation in their support for the project.
Receiving feedback on how the project is comparing to initial projections at each stage of project implementation.
Knowing the correct steps to take once problems develop. Make adequate initial arrangement for troubleshooting mechanisms to make it easier to react to problems and forestall potential problems.
It is important to find a balance between emphasizing clients' concerns and controlling project constraints such as budgets, schedules and performances. If such a balance is achieved, it will create an atmosphere in which project priorities are well understood and serve as guideposts to reduce the manageable reasons for project failure.
List of reference
Cleland, David I., 1994, Project Management: Strategic design and implementation, 2nd ed., McGraw-Hill, New York.
M. Pete Spinner, 1997, Project Management: Principles and Practices, Upper Saddle River, N.J: Prentice Hall.
Lock, Dennis, 1996, Project Management, 6th ed., Wiley, New York.
Greasley, Andrew, 1997, Project Management for Product and Service Improvement, Butterworth-Heinemann, Oxford, Boston.
Jack Gido, James P. Clements, 1999, Successful Project Management, South-Western College Publication.
John R. Adams, 1997, The Principles of Project Management, PMI Publication Division.
Mike Field and Laurie Keller, 1998, Project Management, International Thomson Business Press, Boston, London.
Robert K. Wysocki, Robert Beck, Jr., David B. Crane, 2000, Effective Project Management, 2nd ed., Wiley, New York.
Lewis, James P., 1995, Fundamentals of Project Management, Amacom, New York.
Burke, Rory, 1999, Project Management: Planning and Control Techniques, 3rd ed., Wiley, New York.
Weiss, Joseph W., 1992, 5-Phases Project Management: A Practical Planning and Implementation Guide, Perseus Books.