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Project management

The module is assessed by independently researched coursework, requiring students to reflect on a real project and evaluate the application of project management tools and techniques to the implementation stage of the project.  Each individual is required to submit a report of approximately 5,000 words excluding references and appendices. The work will be assessed according to the marking scheme below. Students are reminded to ensure that they have covered all learning outcomes for the module in their work.
 
Candidates will base the report on a work-based project which offers scope for the application and critical evaluation of the knowledge and skills relating to problem solving in the context of a real organisation.
 
Project B can also be taken as a desk-based project using information in the public domain. Full-time students may elect to base Project B either on a high profile project, e.g. the construction of a new airport or bridge or hosting a sports or cultural event, or a project they have past experience of.
 
The report should be submitted by 1.30 p.m. 28th April 2015.
 
 
Marking scheme – see also Annex A for marking sheet
 
Element                                                                                                          % of mark
Background research on the project and organizational context                  25%
Analysis and application of PM techniques                                                    30%
Recommendations for improvement in PM practice                                                15%
Reflection on personal learning and understanding of research process     15%
Presentation of report and use of references                                                15%
Total                                                                                                                100%
 
Problem solving techniques might include:

Problem analysis, e.g. using fishbone diagrams or decision trees
Stakeholder management strategies
Changing client requirements (changes approval process)
Time management (monitoring activities against Gantt plans)
Budget variance analysis
Critical incident analysis
Risk monitoring and risk mitigation strategies
Cognitive mapping and brainstorming
Human resource management and performance management
Conflict resolution
Communications strategies

 
Tips and advice
You will need to obtain a copy of such project monitoring documents as exist and discover what PM tools and techniques were used – this will either be based on publicly available material for the projects outlined below or documents you have access to through work.
 
Evidence you obtain in this way should be fully referenced in the report and included in the appendices and evaluated by you in the text of your report.
 
You will then be able to identify gaps in the use of planning tools, showing this critical evaluation in the discussion, tables and figures in the main text. The analysis should be based on your understanding of good practice in project management within the particular sector. In other words you will need to make sure you read about project management practice within the particular context of the type of project.
 
Your evaluation of these project management tools methods used and /or not used will form the basis of your recommendations to improve project planning in future.  You should reflect on the process you followed to research and obtain your evidence as well as drawing a conclusion on the theory and practice of project management techniques in your case.
 
Report outline
The project should be set out in a report format which includes:
 
Title Page
Executive Summary
Contents Page
Introduction to the project / project management context
Critical Analysis of PM techniques used
Recommendations for future project management practice
Personal Reflection
Conclusion
References
Appendices
 
Report style
For advice on appropriate writing style for reports, contact Annie Britton or CLASS in the library.
 
The following website has some useful tips for academic writing styles:
 
http://www.uefap.com/index.htm
 
The purpose of critical evaluation is to offer a balanced judgement based on both your understanding of project management practice and that discussed in the literature, of the utilization of tools and techniques used in the documents. In other words you must do more than provide an opinion, you need to evidence your analysis.
 
Relationship with supervisor
You will be allocated a supervisor who will guide and advise you through the project process. You will be expected to be pro-active in managing the relationship – both you and your supervisor have rights and responsibilities. These are outlined below:
 
Your supervisor will:

Comment constructively on your research plans, providing constructive comments on areas for further exploitation and development.
Critically review draft work and provide written feedback – to preserve the integrity and independence of your work, supervisors will only provide comments on a draft section ONCE only.
If required, comment on the structure and presentation of the final draft, but this must be submitted at least 2 weeks ahead of the hand-in date.
Respond to all forms of communication, promptly acknowledging receipt of communications where they may be a delay and advising you if there are any periods of non-availability.

 
You will:

Read and assimilate this module guide and seek clarification if there are any aspects you do not understand.
Select a project for research, identify relevant documents, research good practice and draw valid and relevant conclusions and recommendations.
Take responsibility for remaining in regular contact with your supervisor.
Engage in efficient time management e.g. produce an outline plan showing key milestones, taking into account holidays and other commitments.
Submit written drafts of each section in a timely and presentable fashion, preferably electronically.
Respond to advice and guidance you receive. If you decide not to respond discuss the reasons with your supervisor.
Advise your supervisor and programme leader if you are having problems progressing in any aspect of your research.

 
Project B Meeting Record
It is good practice to make a written record at each meeting outlining the discussion and setting out any agree actions. Annex B contains a meeting record form.  Both you and your supervisor should retain a copy of the record. You should include two completed meeting records as one of your appendices when you submit your final report.
Project B Scenarios
You may choose to evaluate the plans from ONE of the following scenarios:
 
A project plan taken from your work experience – you may chose to base Project B on a project from your own previous work experience, or from your experience on working on projects as a student. NOTE this should not be a project plan you have completed for other assignments, such as the plan produced for the POPP 5013 project management assessment.
 
BP Deep Water Horizon Investigation
The internal investigation report into the management of BP’s response to the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
http://www.bp.com/liveassets/bp_internet/globalbp/globalbp_uk_english/incident_response/STAGING/local_assets/downloads_pdfs/Deepwater_Horizon_Accident_Investigation_Report.pdf
 
PRESERV 1 Supporting Digital Preservation and Asset Management in Institutions.  Interim project monitoring reports for the PRESERV project.
http://www.preserv.org.uk/about/
 
Open University Learning Design Initiative. Interim monitoring reports for the OULDI which aims to develop and implement a methodology for learning design composed of tools, practice and other innovation that both builds upon, and contributes to, existing academic and practitioner research.
http://www.jisc.ac.uk/media/documents/programmes/curriculumdesign/ouldiinterim_april10.pdf
 
Nimrod MRA4 Interim monitoring reports for the Nimrod MRA4 project – which was eventually cancelled by the Department of Defense.
http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2010/10/national-audit-office-major-projects-report-2010/
*note you need to identify the specific sections on the Nimrod MRA4
 
NOTE: there may be more information available via project websites / other sources
 

Note on copyright
Copyright legislation permits you to use the plans identified above for research/study purposes only.  You must ensure that when you hand in your assignment you also hand in the project plans. The link to these reports will be withdrawn after the assessment date.
 
Research Ethics
As discussed in the module overview, this project can either be undertaken based on current/previous work experience or be desk-based. If you undertake research based on your current/previous work experience it is your responsibility to obtain the necessary permissions to use the project documents you draw on.  You should then ensure that you deal with any sensitive information (such as individual names) appropriately, for example it is good practice to anonymize data and not disclose the organisation’s/ employees’ details in the write-up.
 
For those students who chose to analyze one of the project plans listed above, it is not expected that you will need to contact any of the individuals named in the project plans to complete your project.  If you chose to do so, you MUST first discuss this with your supervisor and obtain full ethical approval from the Faculty of Business and Law. Failure to do so will lead to a fail grade.  Again, it is good practice not to identify individuals/organizations in the report.
 
Reading
These are suggested readings only which will provide you some context for the project management techniques utilized by the sector the projects listed above are undertaken within, you will be expected to draw on more than these sources in your report, searching academic databases to identify relevant journal articles.
 
 
Hughes, B. (2004) Project management for IT-related projects. Swindon: British Computer Society.
 
Lock, D. (2007) Project Management 9th edition. London: Gower.
 
Maylor, H. (2010) Project Management 4th edition. London: Financial Times/Prentice Hall.
 
Office for Government Commerce (2010) Projects and Programmes [www] http://www.ogc.gov.uk/programmes___projects_introduction_to_projects.asp
 
Rad, P.F.; Anantatmula, V.S. (2005) Project planning techniques. Vienna: Management Concepts.
 
Ward, J and Daniel E. (2006) Benefits management: delivering value from IS & IT investments. Chichester: John Wiley.

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