Software Project Management and Testing Assignment

Software Project Management and Testing Assignment

This is a solution of Project Management and Testing Assignment which discusses implementing a marketing campaign and more.

Project Management Approaches

1. Introduction to Project Management

A Project is a complex and non-routine work in nature. It has its own aims and objectives to achieve. The project is a task with clear objectives and timeline for the start and may be the ending in most of the cases. It requires combined efforts of various experts.  Following tasks can be classified as a project:

  • Implementing a marketing campaign.
  • Organizing a sport event.
  • Developing a building or facility.
  • Training the Employees.
  • Going for a Picnic

Management of such kind of unique tasks by using modern management tools and techniques is known as project management. It also involves planning, organizing and controlling the project throughout the life of the project. The goal or aim of project management is to ensure that the end results are met with utmost quality and with predetermined costs and efforts.

A project is managed using modernscience of management with a prime objective of satisfying the needs and expectations of the individuals directly or indirectly related to the outcome of the project. It requires the manager to balance the following interdependent factors:

  • The Scope of the project.
  • Time allocated.
  • Total Money involved.
  • Different needs of Different Stakeholders.
  • Recognized needs and unrecognized expectations.
  • Allocation of resources.

Project management institute have divided basic project management into five basic steps:

  • Initiation of the project
  • Planning Phase
  • Execution Phase
  • Controlling and monitoring Phase
  • Closing Phase

These five steps are used in almost all the projects that are implemented. Any project without proper project planning can result in major upsets at various stages in the process. Since these projects are very important both from a financial and strategic perspective, proper project planning is very important as far as any organization is concerned (James P. Lewis 2000).

The major difference that the project managers have to understand here is that it is a temporary process compared to the normal routine that takes place. They have specific goals and objectives to be met which brings in changes in any business process or affects any aspect of the business. Since managing a business and managing a process are completely different things it requires a unique managerial skill to properly carry out a project management process. There would be constraints based on which one have to channelize the available resources so that the project goals are obtained. The constraints that are there in any project are mainly time available for completion, money available and the scope of the project.

2.  What is PRINCE 2?

Projects IN Controlled Environments, better known as ‘PRINCE2’, is a method of managing a project. It is a focused method where experienced executives and project managers from various other projects decides the course of the activities and management of project. It provides a methodology for managing a project with enough flexibility in-built in the process. It is an integrated project management method that be used in any project from Start to finish covering various aspects like planning, organizing or scheduling and controlling.

‘2’ in ‘PRINCE2’ indicate the second version or the updated version of the original method. The original method and the updated one are registered trademarks of the Office of Government Commerce (OGC), an independent office of HM Treasury of the United Kingdom. This is a project management method developed by the UK government and recognized by whole world. It is used by some 20,000 organizations worldwide. It has introduced a list of significant reasons due to which the projects fail, and also tells how one can overcome these issues.

The PRINCE2 method is made up of four different elements, namely, Principles, Themes (Components), Processes and Tailoring. It is very useful for project managers, the organizations and their employees, as it helps them in efficient and effective utilization of resources and also helps in minimizing the project risk. It provides them with the practices which are well established & universally accepted and thus provide all of them with a common language which help in better coordination & communication. It provides:

  • An organised beginning, execution and end to the projects
  • A network for communication among the stakeholders involved in the project.
  • Focuses on What, Why, When and for Whom they have to deliver.
  • Formal distribution of roles & responsibilities within a project.
  • Continuous evaluations of project progress against the planned Business Case.
  • Product-based planning approach.
  • Room for control any discrepancy to the plan.
  • The stakeholders and management participation of at the right time and right place.
  • Assurance of generating value to the organization continuously.
  • A common and consistent project management methodology
  • Improvement in the skills of the employees
[caption id="attachment_4381" align="aligncenter" width="680"]PRINCE2 Process Model Project Management and Testing AssignmentPRINCE2 Process Model[/caption]

3. What is PMBOK

The Project Management Body of Knowledge, better known as ‘PMBOK’, has been developed by PMI (Project Management Institute). It is a benchmark or the best practice of Project Management which explains knowledge of proven processes, practices, norms, methods, etc. which are recognized as standards in the field of project management and also some advanced knowledge which is not that much into use but still can be very useful if applied. (PMI, 2008)

Though it is a collection of best practices which are well accepted but one should not forget that each project is different and they cannot be used likewise in all projects. They have to choose what is best for them out of the given alternatives and even some change should be made if required. The process has been divided in 9 Project Management Knowledge Areas. These are (PMI, 2008):

  1. Project Integration Management
  2. Project Scope Management
  3. Project Time Management
  4. Project Cost Management
  5. Project Quality Management
  6. Project Human Resource Management
  7. Project Communications Management
  8. Project Risk Management
  9. Project Procurement Management

4. Comparison of PRINCE2 with PMBOK

4.1. Differences

The final outcome aimed by both the approach is same and that is the expected project deliverables, internal and external. The outcome aimed of the project is same in each approach. The main difference lies in the means and not the ends. PMBOK tries to create the environment which delivers the aimed outcome or deliverables through adoption of standards and practices considered as the best in the industry. In case of PRINCE2, the focus is directly on the deliverables. The process followed in the PRINCE2 approach is straight forward and tools and techniques directly targets the ways to achieve the deliverables by efficient use of resources. (Jay M. Siegelaub, 2004)

As already discussed both PMBOK & Prince2 are different Concepts. Following are the major differences.

PMBOKPrince 2
It is a Body of Knowledge: provide techniques & tell how it can be done.It is a Method: an integrated framework describing what need to be done, by whom & when
Each area of knowledge is independent in nature and can be worked out in isolationAn integrated set of processes (they are not isolated silos that can be selectively applied)
Target at Project management.Cover all management roles
Describe a range of techniques in detailsReferences techniques
It is comprehensive, so can be claimed to be completeMain focus is on Key areas of risk or sensitive to risk.
It is a broad and descriptive in natureMore specific and prescriptive in nature and difficult but not impossible to modify
Totally flexible to mold as per the customer requestLess flexible and depends largely on the project deliverables
Project ownership and direction: Sponsors & stakeholdersIt lies with the top management
Follows US and International StandardsFollows UK standards
4.1.1.  Body of Knowledge Vs. Method

PMBOK as a Body of Knowledge provide the user with various tools & techniques which can be used & tell how it can they be applied. On the other hand PRINCE2 as a Method provide the user with an interested framework describing what need to be done, by whom & when. For example: in Prince 2, critical step and creating a plan in estimating, but it does not how it should be done as it depended for various thing such as the type of project, time frame etc. While PMBOK as a Body of knowledge provides a range of estimating techniques and out of them the project manager (or whoever is responsible) has to judge, which one is best for them & the given project given the scenario, and then use it accordingly.

4.1.2.  Process Model

In case of PRINCE2, understanding of the process model is easy as they are clear and specific while same is not true for PMBOK. Here is the comparison (Thomas & Tilke, 2008):

PMBOKPrince 2
InitiatingStarting up a Project (SU) Directing a project (DP) Managing stage Boundaries (MSB)
PlanningInitiating a project (IP) Managing stage Boundaries (MSB) Managing product Delivery (MP) Planning (PL)
ExecutingControlling a stage (CS) Managing product Delivery (MP) Directing a Project (DP)
Monitoring & ControlControlling a stage (CS)
ClosingManaging stage Boundaries (MSB) Closing  project (CP)

Table 1: The Processes Model

4.1.3.  Project Life Cycle

According to the PMBOK guidelines for every project the feasibility study and need assessment is must and this is considered as the 1st phase of the Project. On the contrary the PRINCE2 methodology considers them as a different project. They are the Inputs to the Project Life Cycle and because of its more emphasis on Implementation phase, PRINCE2 is also considered as an Implementation Methodology rather than a Project Management Methodology.

In PRINCE2 there are eight major processes between the Start to the End of the project including 2 supportive processes, "Planning" and "Directing". There are 45 processes in total if all the sub-processes are also counted. Then, 6 components are feed into the system and finally at last, it describes following 3 techniques:

  1. Product Based Business Planning
  2. Quality Review and
  • Change Control

It also differentiates between technical stages and management stages where the two may or may not coincide. The set of activities which requires the application of specialist technical skills are classified as Technical stages, while the management stage associates to distribution of resources and the ability to employ them. The PMBOK guide defines a project phase as: "A collection of logically related project activities, usually culminating in the completion of a major deliverable." For it both phases and stages are same and because of which they have been used in the text as same.

4.1.4.  Levels Management and their Responsibilities

In case of PRINCE2, there are four levels of management:

  • Corporate or Programme Management
  • The Project Board (to direct a Project)
  • The project manager (to manage a Project)
  • Team-level Management (to manage the Product Delivery)

For the success of the project a proper coordination between all four is required so they must work in Tandem. We can also say that interests of the corporate management are very well integrated with the interest of project manager.

As far as the duty of the project manager is concerned, PMBOK broadly assigns all the responsibility of managing the whole project to the project manager. He has to plan, organize, direct & control the Project and is accountable to all the stakeholders of the project. Whereas, PRINCE2 defines project manager, more specifically, as an individual who has been given the mandate and responsibility to manage the project on a daily basis and he has to make sure that the project is delivering what it ought to and that too without changing the scope of the project (such as scope, Quality, time, cost) approved by the Project Board.” If there is any deviation beyond these limits then it should be informed to the project board. The board is headed by the Executive, but the responsibility of focusing on the goals of the project and successful completion lies with the project manager. So we can conclude that there is clear authority & responsibility distribution and that the activities, including risks, are actively managed. In contrast, the PMBOK use the word “sponsor”, they does not recognize the word "executive" according to them the sponsor can be individual or group of individual or a team, which may or may not exist within the organisation who is executing the project. But the underlying is that they have to provide all the financial support required for the completion of the project.

4.1.5.  Management Roles

Instead of defining the Jobs, PRINCE2 have defined the Roles, which have to be performed. They can be adjusted as per the requirement. Prince 2 have introduced various new Roles other that the normal roles required for project management. Some of them are: Project Support Office (PSO), Senior User, Senior Supplier etc.

Though PRINCE2 have defined the roles, it ignores the common issue of people management but PMBOK Guide has discussed HRM in its chapter "Project Human Resources Management".

4.1.6.  Document Description

PRINCE2, in addition to the documents which had already been mentioned earlier in “Authority Documentation”, involve some documents which need to be discussed. These are:

Acceptance Criteria:it tells about the deliverables in measurable terms. It helps the employees in decision making. It is either developed during the starting-up-a-project process, or is given by the program or corporate management.

Configuration Item Record: It helps the authority in planning & control of the project by providing the adequate information about the project and various work packages (deliverables) as per the Work Breakdown Structure or the Product Breakdown Structure.

The Issue Log storages a brief abstracts of all issues that has been raised, their status and analysis. The issue might have been raised by anyone, no matter how he/she is connected to the project. These issues may be any related to any defect, problem, situation or any activity which has affected the project plan approved by the program manager. In PRINCE2 there is also a procedure of escalation. This is used when the lower manager is not able to resolve the issue so he escalates it through the lime management. The Issue log covers all these activities and thus helps in controlling. Similarly, the Risk Log (or Risk register) Stores all identifiable project risks along with their status, the result of analysis and evaluation. It helps in proper Risk Management. These documents are not covered in the PMBOK Guide.

4.1.7.  Project Planning

One of the key features of PRINCE2 is that the Planning (PL) is Product-based and is focused on quality of the deliverables. This framework is capable of being applied at any level in any project. Planning technique is explained in following 3 steps:

  • Generating the Product Breakdown Structure (PBS)
  • Writing the Product Descriptions; and
  • Producing the Product Flow Diagram.

In the PMBOK, planning is not given much importance as in PRINCE2. It is considered as a normal managerial skill. It is one of the 5 processes groups, which is applied to all the phases and is considered as an effort that continuous till the project ends. Its objective is to create a comprehensive document against which the changes in the project & deviation from the plan can be controlled and also as a guide for the Project execution.

4.1.8.  Project Scheduling

After planning, one has to do the scheduling of all the tasks. It PRINCE2 uses techniques such as Gantt charts & network planning. The framework they use is Product based, so it can be used for any type of project to give a logical sequence. PMBOK uses Critical path Method (CPM), Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT), Graphical Evaluation and Review Technique (GERT). So the sequence is based on interactivity Interdependencies, activity Duration, and resource requirement.

4.1.9.  Project Control

In PRINCE2, for better control the authority of various Work packages has been delegated to different Individuals or Team. They have the power to give orders and make decisions. There is also a reporting system, in which they to report to the project manager and various Logs are there for this purpose.

This control to promote the following:

  • Production of the products as per the requirement.
  • To make sure that as quality standards are satisfied.
  • There are no delays
  • There are cost Over runs
  • The project is being executed as per the Business Case

Some questions can be raised on the last point as the Business Case is regularly revised and it may happen that instead of controlling the actual performance according to the business case one (the person who is responsible for the same) is actually updating the business case to match the actual performance.

PRINCE2 has clearly explained the difference between the following:

  • Tolerance – it tells how much deviation from the Business case is allowed without informing the Project Board
  • Contingency – it refers to the Contingency plan. It will be implemented only in certain cases or risks. There is a proper reserve of funds, resources & time for the same.
  • Change Control – it is there to make sure that all the processes of change and issues are under control

In the PMBOK Guide, it is discussed in the chapter “Project Integration Management” and there they talk about the Scope Control, Schedule Control, Cost Control and Quality Control. The Change Control has also been discussed in “Integrated Change Control”; it says that the change request should be incorporated with all the project management knowledge area

4.1.10. Standardization in Organisation

The PRINCE2 approach has an advantage as it is somewhat prescriptive which results in some standardization in an organisation. It use the same steps/processes and terminology in all projects (while allowing for some changes according to the need of the projects). This standardization has various benefits in project management, project control, project planning, project performance & tracking systems and also in employees training programs, But as every coin has 2 faces, there are some disadvantages also; it potentially limits the creativity & innovation in the style & techniques which can be used to manage a project more efficiently & effectively.

5. Combining PMBOK and PRINCE2

PRINCE2 being a process driven methodology and PMBOK which consists of the tools and techniques of project management, I feel that they are complementary to each other. A proper combination of both can be very useful. By using the PMBOK and PRINCE2 together the user can take benefits of using the best and most respected project management approaches and overcome most of the limitation of both as if they were used standalone.

PRINCE2 cannot be used easily on its own. For the Proper & efficient use one need adequate experience and Knowledge of PMBOK also. As already discussed, PRINCE2 ignores the importance of Communications, HRM and Procurement Management and PMBOK emphasize on these areas. At the same time there are some areas in which PRINCE2 supports where PMBOK lacks.

The different features & purpose of PMBOK & PRINCE2 methodology make them highly complementary, so they both can be put effectively on the same project and as pointed by Elizabeth Harrin, in an interview, a growing number of project managers are doing this way. But they both need to be adjusted according to the need, and the two key things which need to be done some for the same, as suggested by Andy Murray are:

  1. Set of single terms to apply: both of these methods have their own terminology as PMBOK uses sponsor group and PRINCE2 uses Project Board or the same. So it is very important to first have a single set of all the terms which will be used for the project. One can also refer to “Comparative Glossary of Common Project Management Terms” compiled by R. Max Wideman
  2. Need to Align the different management products used by both otherwise it will again crease a lot of confusion in the project management team as well as within the Organisation also.

Following benefits can be there by combining PMBOK and PRINCE2 method:

  • It will result in a comprehensive Methodology.
  • Benefits of both Work Breakdown Structure and Product Breakdown Structure.
  • Products will be of better quality and more focused towards customers.
  • Benefits of ready templates of PRINCE2

6.  Summary

Project management involves the usage of various skills, tools, knowledge and techniques and the objective behind all these is to meet the stakeholders need. PMBOK & PRINCE2 are the 2 rigorous approaches to management projects. PRINCE2 and PMBOK serve different purposes; they use different approaches and because of which they are not directly comparable. Both of them are globally accepted. In general, PMBOK is more comprehensive while PRINCE2 is more pragmatic in nature. It is an integrated framework which tells ‘What to do’ and PMBOK is a body of knowledge which provides with the techniques and tells ‘How to do’. PMBOK tells the best available method for project Management & best approach for theoretical purpose but it ignores the Application part a bit. PMBOK is knowledge based project management methodology which covers various practices which have been proved over the time. It is abridged and very easy to understand. On the contrary, PRINCE2 is a prescriptive or process oriented and scalable approach designed to be tailored to fit any type of project. It limits the creativity of the user. Read about Leadership Qualities.

As prince is more specific and prescriptive in nature, it has to be modified to suit to the project nature to achieve the success. But, the standards and quality requirements for both the methods are more or less same. (Haydn Thomas & Julie Tilke, 2008)

The best thing about PRINCE2 is its documentation. The whole documentation process has been defined and it goes in line with the process model. There are several advantages of documentation such as it helps in Controlling, Directing & Planning.

These both methodologies have some advantages and weakness but as they have capability to overcome the weaknesses of other they can complement each other and because of this reason only people suggest to use them together. But it is easy said than done. One has to consider a lot of factor while consolidating both.

7. References

  • The Official PRINCE2® Website, All about PRINCE2, (online), available at: “http://www.prince-officialsite.com/home/home.asp”, last accessed on 17-Dec-10
  • Website of “The Office of Government Commerce” (OGC), an independent office of HM Treasury, (online), available at: “http://www.ogc.gov.uk/methods_prince_2.asp”, last accessed on 17-Dec-10
  • Website of Project management institute, (online), available at: “http://www.pmi.org/default.aspx”, last accessed on 16-Dec-10
  • Max Wideman (2002). Comparing PRINCE2 with PMBoK. AEW Services, Vancouver.
  • William R. Duncan (1996). A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge. Project Management Institute.
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