Amber Cars Project
Project management is widely hailed for its ability in making organizations and individuals actualize various projects. According to Thomas, Jacques, Adams, and Kihneman-Woote (2008), project planning has the ability to enable the organization to save a lot of expenses by minimizing time and resource wastage (Collyer and Warren 360). This paper gives a detailed description of the implementation of a car hire website for Amber Cars. In particular, the paper will discuss all issues that will be considered during development of the scope, planning, launching, monitoring, and control, to the closing of the project. Ambers Car is a family-owned taxi business with its headquarters in Northampton, England. The company has been in operation since the year 1998.
The development of a new car hire website for Amber Cars will entail the use of various personnel’s that have varying skills in order to effectively complete this complex within the given deadline. Accordingly, one project management will ensure that all people involved in the project are working in harmony and in the most effective and efficient manner. In addition, the coordination of all activities will ensure that resources are efficiently utilized.
Amber Cars has a lean employment team. It has two people who deal with general inquiries, five individuals who are controllers, one general manager, and one account manager with an assistant. The main marketing method for the company is through the use of local newspapers and Yellow Pages directory. The company’s clients make their bookings through fax, email, or making a direct call to the company, which are managed by controllers. Regarding income, Amber Cars gets a commission of 145 pounds from each taxi weekly for the cab rented to a driver and the business accounts for organizations such as hospitals and schools.
Planning mostly entails the determination of the projects that should be undertaken at each specific time and the resources that are needed (Mintzberg 89; Verzuh 76-81). This process is important in ensuring that there is no wastage of resources and for ensuring that all personnel is allocated to tasks that match their skills. This project will be divided into 6 major subgroups, which are analyzing, prototyping, development, testing, training, and project closure. The first step will be analyzing, and the activities in this stage will include eliciting client needs, analysis of target audience, gaining server access, getting access to the required resources, producing required specifications, and getting approval from the client to proceed.
The second step will be prototyping. Activities in this stage will include the development of a prototype, approval of prototype by the client, testing of the prototype, amendment of the prototype, gaining approval from client to proceed. The third stage will be development. This stage will entail the creating of coding templates, the creating of HTML and CSS documents, the development and test of interactive components, addition of appropriate content, verification of site links, the verification of functionality, and the gaining of approval from the client to proceed. The fourth stage will be testing. In this stage, there will be cross-browser testing, error testing, user group testing, amendments arising from testing, and gaining of approvals from Amber to proceed with the project. In the fifth stage, the project will be almost through, and the client (Amber’s employees) will be trained on how to use the website backend. The sixth stage will be project closure, the website will be connected to the database and it will be launched. There will also be a project review and final closure of the entire task.
After identifying the activities, a network diagram of the activities to be undertaken are developed. The network diagram is important in enabling the project team to identify the critical path for the project, and accordingly the earliest possible time that the project can be completed without crashing any days. Without crashing any day, the project team can only complete the website development in 60 days.
The project start date is 30th April 2018 and will end on 20th July 2018. The main work resources for the project implementation will be human personnel. Regarding the infrastructure needed for the work, such as computers, the programmers that will be making the website will use their personal computers and Amber’s servers. The fundamental issue in the allocation of resources will be the critical path and critical resources. In this case, the company will be focused on minimizing its expenses by using the critical path. Although the intended time (ideal time) that the Amber would love the work done is 58 days, the project team will spend 61 days. The hiring of a personnel to reduce the extra three days will be inappropriate since the individual will not have enjoyed enough time to bond with the rest of the workers. In addition, it is more appropriate for the team to deliver a quality website than to be hasty and deliver a wrong or low-quality website.
The delay in the project completion will also be due to the unavailability of one of the personnel. This will result in a delay of just one day. The business will also gain its required resources earlier than anticipated. Since the programmers will be using their own resources (computers for coding), the team assumes that it will get some of the resources two days earlier than anticipated. In addition, some of the activities that do not lie on the critical path line will be rescheduled. An example of the activity that will be rescheduled is the “gaining of server access’ and the “verification of site links.” The rescheduling of these activities will be done to allow some employees take some break and re-organize themselves. To ensure that all resources are utilized effectively and efficiently, the project manager will compare the actual performance with the established baseline. The project will have a task constraint for error testing on June 26th, 2018. This constraint will ensure that the project developers keep track of their activities. A deadline and milestone will also be set on 26 July 2018 on amendments arising from testing.
Monitoring and Controlling
The monitoring and controlling process will be essential in ensuring that any hitches in the project development are detected and corrected quickly before they cause any mess in the system (Shenhar et al. 115). Largely, monitoring and controlling will entail performing a continuous assessment of the project’s progress, carrying out a risk assessment of the project, and establishing a reporting mechanism to enable proper control of the project (Zwikael 690). Also, a project leader develops a mechanism for reporting the project’s status, establishing means of identifying and solving problems, and processes change requests and scope change requests as needed.
In Amber car-hire business, the monitoring will be of three key aspects of the business, which are: establishing the data to be collected, collection and analysis of data, and report of the project’s progress. The establishment of the data to be collected will ensure that only relevant information is assessed when determining the type of website to be established, and the resources needed. The performance of analysis on all collected data will ensure that wrong assumption are not used in the project Thomas et al. 117; Zwikael 96). Finally, a report on the project’s status will enable team members to know their performance and make appropriate changes and improvements when needed. In the status report, the main concern will be cost and schedule. This report will be created at the end of every week so that the team can compare their actual performance against the established baseline.
All the tasks that are completed will appear in their normal format in the Gantt chart. However, that is incomplete will have a small note next to them indicating their level of completion. Some of the tasks that have the notes in the MS Project are amendments arising from testing, verify site links, and verify functionality. The notes on each of this task indicate their level of completion. Each of the tasks will also be marked with the appropriate resource needed to complete the job. In Amber Cars project, the resources used are the programmers. Each task is therefore matched with a programmer who has the requisite skills for the task. With regards to variance, the project is scheduled to officially start on Monday 29th April 2018; however, some of the tasks have already been started. These include works such as creating a prototype testing of the prototype and approval of prototype. Since this work is been done by professional programmers, the team already has a design of how the system should appear. This design is a raw prototype and is what accounts for the variance in the completion of the tasks. The tracks show both the task variance and cost variance.
Overall, the project control will enable the team to identify if there is any variance in their performance. The project manager, on his/her part, will establish alternative courses of actions to correct deviations (Schwalbe 87). In this regard, the monitoring and control of the project will have a benefit of ensuring there is the timely completion of the project. Addition, it will ensure the project is completed within the set budget of 8,000 pounds, and according to the required quality. Further, the controlling will ensure that all objectives of making the car hire website have been attained, and the final product (website) is of the required standards. Besides ensuring there is the delivery of a quality product (website), the controls will ensure that the project team is able to maintain excellent relations with Amber Cars and that the website meets the expectations of all stakeholders (customers, Amber, employees, taxi drivers).
To ensure that the project control process is effectively conducted, the project manager will first establish a baseline plan. He/she will use a status report to monitor the performance of the company against the set baseline. The baseline plan gives the expected ideal cost, scope, and schedule for the project (Kerzner and Kerzner 121). Therefore, this comparison enables him/her to know how far the actual performance deviates from the plan. Overall, the periodic measurement and correction of significant deviations will ensure that the project is completed within the required baseline limits. In this regard, the status report will improve the communication among members implementing the project and the organization. It will also ensure there is no communication breakdown during the project implementation, and all issues are solved in good time. Further, it will enable stakeholders to receive appropriate communication in time, and enhance Amber’s support for the implementation of the project.
The MS Project is essential for enabling organizations to achieve their objectives. In particular, it enables them to identify any variances in performance from the established baseline. With regards to the Amber Car’s project, the use of the MS Project will enable the project manager to know any delays or hitches in the completion of the project. Importantly, this will ensure that he/she initiates appropriate corrective actions in good time (Nobelius and Trygg 335). A deviation from established baseline is shown through variance in the MS Project. In addition, the use of notes and calendars that indicate a team’s overall performance on a project will be essential in enabling all stakeholders to know the performance of a project and to foster healthy cooperation.
Besides showing the resources needed for each task, the MS Project is beneficial in ensuring that a project is done within the established budget. This aspect is critical and is shown by the assessment of the allocated resource versus the work completed. Importantly, the use of the MS Project can enable a project manager to identify the productivity of his/her employees. Ordinarily, a team leader should expect more resources to result in greater returns for the business.
To achieve the project’s aims and objectives, the project manager should ensure that he/she has appropriate resources needed for the project. Even the most skillful and diligent workers can underperform if they are not properly equipped with the right tools. The project manager should then recruit a team of individuals that are skilled in the required tasks. In the Amber Car’s project, the manager should employ skillful website developers. In addition, there should be the establishment of operating rules for the project, which will ensure that there is teamwork. Equally important, all team members should have the opportunity of learning the objectives of the project, understanding their roles and responsibilities, and identifying the right reporting channels.
In the planning section, the project manager should involve all stakeholders such as employees, customers, and Ambers’ management. These individuals are the ones who know what they want, and their involvement in the project will make them more willing to support the project. Also, the project manager should spend more time familiarizing with himself with how the system works and what the company really wants. Finally, the project manager should establish a SMART plan. In this case, his/her goals should be simple and clear, achievable, manageable, realistic, and time-bound.
From the project management, I have learned that projects are not static. In practice, most projects deviate from their ideal levels; therefore, the project manager should establish ways of factoring these hitches. In addition, I have also observed the benefit of establishing a through project management plan. In particular, this plan can enable a person to minimize losses from delays in completion of projects or wastage of resources.
In future, I recommend any person having a project to use the MS Project in his/her task. The MS Project is simple to use, yet effective in enabling an individual to observe all key aspects of a project. Additionally, individuals should familiarize themselves with the critical path aspect, since it gives project leaders important insight on the activities that they should prioritize.