Monday, April 9, 2012

Planning for Contigences

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Planning for Contingencies


Project Statement


We are Teamq and I’m Paul Nicholas we are doing a database project for the school of IT handeling marks from student coordinators and outputting to the student center. This database will also allow for some prequsite checking to allow students to know when they don’t have the prequsites for a unit. It will identify students at risk and also those eligible for prizes.


Topic of Week


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Why do we plan for contingencies?


Time


• We plan for contingencies because time is usually the most precious resource we have.


• The quicker a project is completed the lest cost all parties involved have to bear


• If a project can be done as quickly as possible there is not only the financial benefit but the expedience of solving the problem.


• So planning for contingencies keep the project in motion a fluid project is a better project then one that comes to an abrupt halt or is sporadic in nature.


Resources


• We plan for contingencies because it allows us to keep out resources in a state of maximum productivity.


• Planning allows each member to act on a task at any given time and for the focus of those tasks to be the ones that produce the most good for the project


Quality


• We plan for contingencies so the quality of service meets our clients expectations


• We work in a service industry so it’s important for clients to feel they are getting the best possible work by the best possible people. A client must feel assured that we are competent. Having contingency plans in place so even if things don’t quite work out for the best scenario the client can feel assured that we know what we are doing.


What are the ways of Planning for Contingencies?


Critical Path


• By using critical path analysis


• By analyzing the critical path or the path of the longest possible dependent tasks we can see how long the project will take. This is the critical path anything along this path effects the overall duration of the project.


• So these tasks are more important to have contingency plans for. Another task may not have as much importance and as it is being done concurrently then it


• For example in out project the critical path


Being Prepared


• It’s important to be prepared for all possible problems that may occur during the life of your project.


• In order to take this into account it is usually best to imagine your worse case scenario and do as much as you can to have a plan for what to do under those circumstances.


• So what are some basic things you can do to be prepared


• You can have standard practices that through which you can be equipped to handle unforeseen problems.


• Good practices involve things like always having backups, cataloging data, having a single point of contact and having methods of communication and planning in which everyone knows exactly what to do in any situation.


Issues


• It is important throughout the project to have a way in which problems can be raised and managed.


• Having an issue log allows you to deal with problems as they occur as well as monitor how they are being resolved.


• An issue log should include the time the issue was raised, who raised it and it should then be assigned to someone as their responsibility for resolving.


• Issues can be things that have happened to the project or things that are yet too happen.


• Planning and tracking such events means that the project is more likely to maintain its momentum.


When should contingency planning take place?


• It’s important at the beginning of the project to put in structures that will facilitate the way in which the project will deal with issues and with problems as they occur but it is due to the very nature of the unpredictability of problems that contingency planning must be an ongoing process based on well defined guideline.


What happens if we don’t?


• Some people may argue that planning for all these issues that might happen but probably won’t is a waste of resources when the real focus should be on the task at hand


• If you don’t plan for contingencies your project will inevitably reach a critical point on at least one occasion during its lifetime. When your project has reached a critical point this is not the time you want to think about planning and redefining the way the project is being executed. This is a point where you want to be able to fall back and reassess the situation but be carrying out a contingency plan which could be that work is redirected to another part of the project until the situation is resolved. Or having a plan in place that will allow for this problem in some way.


How did we plan for contingencies


• Team Q structured out project at the very beginning to allow us to have a communication channel that would facilitate the distribution of tasks and a single point of contact through our web site and a team email account.


• The web site that was deployed very early on in the project allow the team to see in one single view


o The members of the project including client and supervisor


o The project abstract, deliverables, milestornes etc


o It also allowed us to schedule meetings as it automatically dispatch emails to the relevant parties.


o The web site also incorporated a team log book that could be updated as well as the all important issue log which allowed the team members to raise or resolve an issue.


• The fact that we had task and their assignments and next meeting etc up on a web site a single point of contact meant that anyone could log on and see what the other members were doing as well as always have a clear idea of where we were in the project.


• The team email meant that if we emailed the client or third party that meant that anyone could follow up on a reply and that it wasn’t solely reliant on one person to communication.


• We had our fair share of problems to overcome with every member of the group contracting some illness on at least one occasion our team and our project has not suffered because everyone just seemed to carry on. The reason we could just carry on without an apparent problem is that everyone had a clear understanding on where we were the members of our group concerned with the database new what was going on and if someone wasn’t there then they could still carry on. The other members of our group focusing on reports and test data had clear defined tasks and there was never anyone without anything to do.


Progress Report


• We are currently approaching the end of the build phase for out project with fully functioning modules within the database the final task is to link is all together under one functional user interface.


• We are also looking into ways of modifying what we’ve already done to make it more user friendly call this tweaking if you will. Tweaking so that our end product is really user friendly.


• We have finished the prerequisite checking module as well as a student at risk where we identified students at risk as having more than one fail or a fail below a certain mark.


• Our project has had a big focus on functionality as well as usability and we’ve looked into and implemented many different ways of automating features of our database into single click applications. We first focus on getting the function right then we look at automating.


• We want our project to be the best we not only want it to do everything the client wants we also want it to do it better than any of the competing groups systems. So if we can give it extra functionality at no cost to ourselves then we do it because that’s what gives us a competitive advantage.


• We are also at a stage of producing test reports, and test data to analyze the integrity of fields and functions of our database. This is a very difficult task which involves planning for the validity and integrity of all possible outputs and inputs to our system.


• We are also in the process of formulating scenario testing to test how our system will cope in all possible scenarios.





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