LEARNING OUTCOMES OF MODULE – outcomes 1, 2 and 4 are covered in this assignment.
• 1. appreciate the role of formal procedures, PRINCE2 in particular for successful project management
• 2. use the life cycle to manage and control a project through its key stages
• 3. appraise the importance of people management and team work
• 4. understand the role of the project manager
• 5. appreciate the importance of financial accounting and control in the profitable management of projects
• 6. apply the technical and commercial knowledge and skills to manage a project successfully
The assignment which is to be done individually is in two parts.
Part 1 requires you to apply your knowledge from the lecture material and from your background reading to write a report, which must be illustrated by reference to project management. You must also show evidence of having consulted the literature and texts for project management and reference your work appropriately. You are expected to have consulted the recommended text books for the module and at least TWO other recent sources.
Part 2 requires you to use Microsoft Project Management 2007 software to plan and present a brief report based around five questions.
Part 1 carries 50% and Part 2 carries 50%. Combined Part 1 and 2 represent 50% of total marks for module.
VIKAFLEK PAPER COMPANY
Vikaflek Paper Company (VPC) is a medium-sized corporation that manufactures a variety of paper product, including speciality paper and the coated papers used in the photography and printing industries.
Recently a number of commercial projects have come in late and well over budget. A comprehensive analysis of the process traced many of the problems back to inadequate management processes and faulty project selection methods.
Despite cyclical downturns due to general economic conditions, the firm’s annual sales have grown steadily though slowly. However the industry has become more competitive, with new entrants to the market from China and India.
About five years ago Vikaflek embarked on a project-based approach, each manager learning ??on-the-job’. The goal was to meet the competition by improving the quality of its products, by developing new commercial products more quickly, with better targeting to specific customer needs. At one point in a management meeting some consideration was given to buying in a consultancy company, specialising in project management ??Best Practice’ as promoted by APM group on their web site http://www.apmg-international.com/APMG-UK/PRINCE2/AboutPRINCE2/WhatIsPRINCE2.asp. However they could not find times when their managers could be spared.
The result of progressing to project-based working so far have been encouraging but there are problems. For one thing, the company’s project development record has been poor: while some projects have been delivered on time, others have been late. Budgets are routinely overrun and product performance has been inconsistent, with the result that some projects yield good returns and others lose money.
The senior management are aware that there are inconsistencies in the project management processes across VPC with no standards or project methodologies. Also they are conscious of problems in the way projects are added to the company’s portfolio. The primary mechanism for new project selection focusses almost exclusively on discounted cash flow models such as Net Present Value. Essentially if a project promises profitable revenue streams, it project is approved by top management.
Senior management analysed their portfolio of projects undertaken in the past three years (with considerable difficulty as there was no central repository of projects being undertaken at any one time) and identified the development of a ??family’ of projects, that were often almost completely unrelated. No-one, it seems ever asked whether projects that were added to the portfolio fit with other ongoing projects. VPC had expanded into coated papers, photographic products, shipping and packaging materials, and other lines that strayed far from their original niche. Little effort was made to evaluate these projects according to their technical resources. Some new projects, for example failed to fit because they required significant organisational learning and new technical expertise and training (all of which was also expensive and time-consuming). The result was a portfolio of diverse, mismatched projects that was difficult to manage. Further, it decreased organisational learning, as the diverse nature of the new product line and development process made it impossible for VPC’s project managers to move easily from one assignment to the next. Likewise, this hodgepodge of products made it difficult for project teams to apply lessons learned or transfer skills from one project to the next.
VPC management is committed to project-based working. They are aware however that they have not kept abreast of ??best practices’ as described by APM group above. The threat of increased competition has now focussed their minds on the need to address these problems with some urgency.
You are a new graduate employee at VPC and the management are aware that you have studied project management. You have been asked to write a short report using the following format for your report:
What are our main problems at VPC? What has caused these problems?
What can be done about these problems?
Suggest an action plan for management for the next 12 months
Your report should be no more than 2500 words, excluding appendices. A reference list must be included.
You are advised to consult the leaflets on Report Writing on Blackboard – Tutorial Advice Office WBS area and in the Registry.
You may make occasional additional assumptions but should state these clearly.
You must give the word count at the end of the report.
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