TM254 IT management: the why, the what and the how
Tutor-marked assignment TMA 03
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- Preparing your TMA
- Learning outcomes
- Part 1: Engagement with the quiz (5 marks)
- Question 1 (5 marks)
- Part 2
- Question 2 (30 marks, individually assessed)
- Question 3 (15 marks, team assessed)
- Question 4 (10 marks, individually assessed)
- Question 5 (20 marks, individually assessed)
- Question 6 (15 marks, individually assessed)
- Question 7 Presentation (5 marks, individually assessed)
This tutor-marked assignment (TM254 TMA 03) must be submitted by 12 noon (UK local time) on the cut-off date Thursday 6th May 2021. Note that Part 2 of this TMA involves team working: you are required to make an initial individual post to OpenStudio by Monday 12th April in Week 25, then upload a team document by Thursday 29th April in Week 27.
This module requires all assignments to be submitted electronically. To submit an assignment, please follow the link(s) from your StudentHome page to the online TMA/EMA service.
If you foresee any difficulty with submitting your assignment on time, you should contact your tutor well in advance of the cut-off date. Note that as this is the final TMA for TM254, there can be no extensions to the deadline except in exceptional circumstances.
For further information about policy, procedure and general submission of assignments please refer to the Assessment Handbook, which can also be accessed via your StudentHome page.
This assignment accounts for 15 per cent of the assessment score for this module. It has seven questions, for which a total of 100 marks are available (including 5 marks for demonstrating good communication skills). Questions do not all have the same number of marks; the marks allocated to each question or part question are indicated.
You are required to produce a single word-processed document containing all your individual work, including your original contributions you uploaded to OpenStudio. We refer to this as your solution document. You are also required to produce a copy of the document your team produced as part of this TMA. These two files must be zipped together so you submit a single zip file.
This means that you will be including two activity networks and resource tables in your submission. The two sets may not be the same, which is why you submit both.
Your team document will be what your team produced. Do not modify the text of any of the sections within the document. They should be exactly the same as the final version your team agreed.
Make sure that you create and submit your answers in a file with an acceptable file format. Acceptable file formats are those with extensions of .doc, .rtf or .docx.
Preparing your TMA
Word limits and layout
Some questions in TMA 03 have word limits. Exceeding a word limit by more than 10% will lead to a deduction of 2 marks for that question or part question. If a question or part question has a word limit, state how many words you used.
Warning. Where word limits are exceeded in your team’s answer to Question 3, you will lose marks even if you were not the actual author of the submission.
While no lower limit is stipulated, it is unlikely that you will be able to demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of relevant concepts and issues if your answers fall far short of the word limit. Make sure that every word serves a purpose and communicates your intended meaning succinctly. The ability to clearly and succinctly communicate your ideas is a key focus in this module and is valuable from both academic and professional perspectives.
Remember to ensure that you include a header or footer on each page of your solution document that includes your Open University identifier, your name and the page number; this helps if your tutor needs to print out your solutions while marking.
Plagiarism and referencing
Where an answer draws on the module parts or on Hughes (2012), you should cite the source – for example, (TM254 Block 3 Part 4 Section 2.2) or (Hughes, Chapter 2 Project Planning). You do not need to give a corresponding reference at the end of the solution document.
Any other sources you use should be cited and fully referenced using the OU Harvard style provided on the Library’s Referencing and plagiarism page.
This assignment assesses learning connected with the following outcomes.
Knowledge and understanding
- KU3 Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the principles, concepts and techniques associated with the process of project management.
- CS4 Understand the key constraints of running projects and the purpose of project management.
- KS1 Work effectively as part of a team in a distance setting where collaboration is undertaken via computer-mediated communication.
- KS2 Communicate effectively about service and project management, requirements and database design.
Part 1: Engagement with the quiz (5 marks)
This question asks you to summarise your engagement with the Block 3 quiz questions. You can complete this question after you have attempted the Block 3 quiz. The marks you will receive for this question are not based on your final quiz score, but on your reflections on engaging with the questions. You are asked to supply a screenshot of the progress you made through the quiz, but you will not be penalised for any questions you got wrong.
Question 1 (5 marks)
- Take a screenshot of the question navigation panel from the Block 3 quiz, showing the full extent of your engagement with the questions. Your screenshot should look similar to Figure 1. Paste the screenshot into your solution document as your answer to this part of the question.
Start of Figure
Figure 1 A screenshot of the question navigation panel (yours may look different from the example shown)
View description – Figure 1 A screenshot of the question navigation panel (yours may look different …
End of Figure
- You should write no more than 90 words for this part of the question.
Write a few sentences in which you tell your tutor about your experience of completing the quiz. For instance, you may have found some Block 3 quiz questions particularly interesting or challenging. In that case, tell your tutor why you found these questions challenging or interesting. Think of this as an opportunity to communicate with your tutor.
For the rest of this TMA we want you to assume a project is underway to develop a software module as a part of a larger system and the activities described in Figure 2 (at the start of Question 2) have been identified. You may assume other functionality will be handled elsewhere in the system. Your team now needs to create a schedule for this software module.
The questions in this TMA will take you through several of the tasks involved in the planning, monitoring and control (covered in Block 3 Parts 3, 4 and 5) of the project. Some of these tasks you will do individually and others you will work on with other members of your team. You will need also to comment on the submissions of other members of your team.
For the collaborative work you will use some combination of your team forum, OpenStudio, tutor group online room or other communication channels agreed by the team to develop a team understanding of the project and carry out planning tasks. You will also have access to a wiki should you choose to use it.
Some of the questions in this TMA have a due date earlier than the cut-off date for the whole assignment. This is to help you manage your time and ensure that your contribution is available for team discussion. If you have any difficulty meeting these deadlines you need to talk to your tutor, as you would if you had difficulty meeting a TMA submission date.
You will be asked to upload your individual contributions and your unchanged team document to the appropriate slots in OpenStudio and include them in your TMA solution document which should be placed in a zip file that you will submit via the online TMA/EMA service. This is because you will be allocated marks for both your individual contributions and the team document.
Try to imagine this is a real-life project and the client wants your project plan by a given deadline.
To help you coordinate your individual work and the team work we have produced a timeline of tasks.
Start of Table
Table 1 Timeline of tasks
|Q2||individual||produce: a completely analysed activity-on-node diagrama list of activities with developer categories identifiedan activity bar chart and resource table||upload by Monday 12th April in week 25|
|Q3a||team||decide on team version of activity-on-node diagram and associated bar chart and resource table||to be decided by team|
|Q3b||team||decide if smoothing is required – produce new activity bar chart and resource table or justification||to be decided by team|
|Q3c||team||decide how to organise work for this part of the question among the team members – produce work schedule, table and graphs as required||to be decided by team|
|Q3d||team||produce team document with justification||individually upload by Thursday 29th April in week 27|
|Q4||individual||reflect on own contributions to team work||as TMA|
|Q5||individual||produce a solution to two given scenarios||as TMA|
|Q6||individual||produce report on one of the projects on the page given||as TMA|
|Q7||individual||style and presentation||as TMA|
End of Table
The team tasks need effective communication. Please do use the team forum to plan how your team will communicate and work together. Your tutor also needs to see the team interacting in the forum. You need to post key decisions and action if your discussions take place outside the forum.
However, be aware that there may be some team members who are not able to participate fully, if at all. The participating members of the team can try and encourage them to become active members but, if this fails, our advice is to get on with the task with your reduced team. If your team is experiencing difficulty because too few members are participating to undertake the task in a sensible manner, please contact your tutor.
Question 2 (30 marks, individually assessed)
Ensure you have read the introduction to this assignment and take note of the intermediate deadlines for Questions 2 and 3 in the timeline of tasks.
For the purposes of this TMA we are assuming that the planning, requirements and design processes for the software module have already been completed. Assume that the analysis of the activities necessary to implement the design has also been undertaken and the required staffing, type of developer and duration for each activity has been estimated.
Figure 2 shows the resulting incomplete activity-on-node network for the development of the software module, similar to the one in Block 3 Part 3 Section 2.
Start of Figure
Figure 2 Incomplete activity-on-node network for the software module for managing bookings
End of Figure
- Draw a completely analysed activity-on-node network for the software module assuming that the project is to be completed in the shortest possible time. Your analysis should show the results of the forward and backward passes and the activity floats in the same form as the one in the discussion for Block 3 Part 3 Activity 3.5.
Use the conventions and notation given in Block 3 Part 3, and make sure your network starts with the node ‘Start’ and finishes with the node ‘Finish’. Your diagram should include a key showing the meaning of the compartments in a node and identify the critical path for the project.
Section 4.5 of the TM254 Module Guide has some guidance on drawing diagrams, including:
‘We recommend that you use the drawing facilities from Microsoft Office (that is, Word, Excel and/or PowerPoint) rather than using a specialised project management package such as Microsoft Project. You may want to experiment with these applications and decide which facilities you find the best. For example, you may wish to set up a stakeholder diagram in Word and use PowerPoint for the network diagrams. Alternatively, you may be used to using a spreadsheet package such as Excel and prefer to use its drawing facilities, or you may prefer to use a drawing package. It is also possible to do all the TMA questions without using software, by using pen and paper and scanning in your drawings.’
- The staff resources needed are six software developer roles. They have been identified as follows:
- Senior software developer. This developer designs and codes software for the Activities D and E.
- Web developer. This developer designs, protoypes,constructs and is involved with testing the web pages (Activities A, B and C).
- Tester. This developer carries out all testing (Activities B, F, H, J).
- Software developer. This developer works with the senior software developer coding the module and then helps with the coding and integration testing (Activities E, F and J).
- Systems integrator. This developer combines the different components to create the overall system (Activity I).
- Database developer. This developer designs, builds and helps test the database (Activiteis G and H).
Where an activity requires more than one developer, all developers work synchronously for the duration of the activity.
Make a list of the activities in Figure 2. For each activity, state which category or categories of developer will be required and for how many days. Use a table similar to that in the solution to Exercise 4.1 in Block 3 Part 4.
- Produce an activity bar chart for the development of the software module similar to that in the discussion for Activity 4.2 in Block 3 Part 4.
- Produce a resource table for the development of the software module similar to that in discussion for Activity 4.2 in Block 3 Part 4.
Paste your answers to all four parts of this question into your solution document. Upload your answers to OpenStudio in the slots provided for this question.
Complete this by the date given in the timeline.
Your tutor will be able to see your answers. If you don’t complete this by the deadline, you will lose marks.
Once you have uploaded your answers you will be able to see the work uploaded by other students in your team. Add comments to the work of at least two other members of your team. You may wish to use these comments in your answer to Question 3 of this TMA.
Question 3 (15 marks, team assessed)
Before you start work with your team, think about which Belbin roles (see Block 1 Part 8, Section 4.3) you feel you are suited to undertake. Make a note of the role you feel is most suited to your characteristics and a brief reason why. You will need this information for Question 4.
- As a team, review and discuss the Question 2 solutions and comments that have been posted to OpenStudio by team members. Agree a correct solution based on this discussion. Prepare a summary of your discussion and a justification for your decisions.
- The team should then review the resource table and decide whether measures should be taken to smooth the resource demand. Any smoothing applied should not increase the project duration.
- If smoothing is needed, the activity bar chart and resource table will need to be adjusted accordingly.
- If no smoothing is needed, the team should prepare a short rationale to justify this decision.
The group developing the system, their area of expertise and the amount their services cost per day are shown in Table 2.
Start of Table
|Group member||Expertise||Daily cost (£)|
|Beryl||Senior software developer||300|
End of Table
Note that Frances is allocated to this project as a systems integrator. However her background includes experience as a programmer and tester.
- Working as a team, use the final results of part (b) of this question to create:
- a work schedule – similar to that in the discussion for Activity 4.6 in Block 3 Part 4
- a table showing the daily and cumulative costs similar to those in the discussion for Activity 4.7 in Block 3 Part 4
- line graphs of the daily and cumulative costs similar to those in the discussion for Activity 4.7 in Block 3 Part 4.
You might find it beneficial to split into subgroups in order to undertake these tasks.
For the costs and graphs you will probably find a spreadsheet useful.
- Finally the team as a whole should prepare a short report incorporating the following six items. Base the report on the outcomes of this question and incorporate the effects of any smoothing. Start this report with your team name and logo.
- The summary of your team discussion as described in Question 3a.
- The activity-on-node network agreed by the team for Question 3, assuming the project is to be completed in the shortest possible time, and showing the corresponding critical path.
- The agreed list of activities and which category of developer is required for each activity.
- An initial activity bar chart and resource table.
- If your team decides to apply smoothing, give a brief rationale for the smoothing together with the adjusted activity bar chart and resource table. If your team decides not to apply smoothing, give a short justification of why smoothing is not necessary.
- The final work schedule, accompanied by a table of the daily and cumulative costs, and the two corresponding line graphs.
The report should have a clear structure with a brief introduction, headings for each section and a conclusion. It should not just consist of the items above simply pasted into the same file.
Write no more than 650 words for the team report, including headings but excluding the words inside tables and charts.
Ensure your team name is part of the file name for the document you submit for Question 3.
Individually, upload your team document to OpenStudio in the slot provided for this question
You will need to include an unaltered copy of this team document in the zip file you submit. Do not copy the team document into your solution document.
Question 4 (10 marks, individually assessed)
If you were unable to take part in the team working aspects of this TMA, then answer this question using your experience as a member of a team outside of TM254.
- Think about how you worked in your team to complete Question 3. In your opinion, what was the most significant contribution you made? Briefly describe your contribution and explain how this had a positive impact on the work of the team. The impact might be in terms of the team processes or the team output. In your answer you may wish to quote from comments you made on the work of other students. If so, give sufficient detail such as the date you made the comment, the piece of work and the student’s name.
- Explain which Belbin role you felt was most suitable when you made a note at the start of Question 3. Give the reason for the answer you jotted down. You should consider both positive qualities and allowable weaknesses associated with the role you have selected.
Using your answer to part a, explain which Belbin role your contribution actually demonstrated. Use the descriptions in Block 1 Part 8, Table 8.4 to give two reasons in your answer.
Write no more than 400 words for Question 4, including headings.
Question 5 (20 marks, individually assessed)
This question is about possible problem scenarios that could arise during the execution of the plan you have developed in Question 3.
If you were not able to participate in the team working aspects of this TMA, then answer this question based on your answer to Question 2.
For each of the scenarios below, suggest possible solutions and briefly discuss the factors that need to be thought of when deciding the course of action to take. Consider each scenario independently. Based on your answer to Question 3 (or Question 2 if you did not do team work) consider Scenario 1, then, also based on your answer to Questions 3 (or 2), consider Scenario 2.
Your answers must be specific to the plan in the team document. A general discussion of possible approaches is not enough. You may find it helpful to look at Block 3 Part 5, Section 3.3 on problem scenarios.
Write no more than 300 words, including headings.
On Day 5, Beryl tells you that coding the bookings module is more complicated than the estimates had allowed for and so Activity E will take an extra five days to complete.
When the plan starts to be executed, you find that Chan (the tester) is not going to be available until Day 9.
Question 6 (15 marks, individually assessed)
This question is designed to demonstrate the importance of project management.
Software development projects often fail in some way. Schedules overrun, budgets are exceeded and delivered systems don’t do what users need.
In most cases, this is because the project was not managed effectively, either by the client, the developers or both.
This should take around 5 hours in total – we suggest 3 hours for the research and 2 hours to write a report.
This question makes use of the Catalogue of Catastrophe page at http://calleam.com/ WTPF/?page_id=3 on the International Project Leadership Academy site you have already seen in Block 3 Part 1, Section 2.3.
We have chosen this particular website because the projects listed in the report are reasonably well known and documented. This should give ease of access to resources that you can use to investigate each case. Although some of the reports were written several years ago, the lessons learned from these cases are still relevant to project management today
Choose one of the projects from the ‘2014’ section of the Catalogue of Catastrophe page at http://calleam.com/ WTPF/ ?page_id=3 on the International Project Leadership Academy website.
Choosing a project
Before you make your choice, we suggest you skim-read each project.
Generally speaking it will be easier to investigate a project if there are many sources.
We particularly recommend looking for leads in Computer Weekly. You might also find The Register useful. Both report frequently on large IT projects, including many of those in the Catalogue of Catastrophes list.
Do some internet research on your chosen project and write a short report about it. Your report should contain the following elements.
- The name of the project and a brief description, including the main details and history of the project. Explain why you picked this project.
- Explain the form that the problems took. Problems can include:
- cost overrun
- failure to meet the users’ needs
- other – describe the kind of problem and explain what form it took.
- If known, give the scale of the failure – for example size of cost overrun, length of delay, consequences for users.
- The possible reasons for the failure, either based on information from the sources you have researched or on your knowledge of project management.
- Your own conclusions including lessons learnt and recommendations for future projects of this sort.
You should reference at least one other authoritative source apart from the International Project Leadership Academy report.
Insert a references to the project report you have selected, the additional source you have found and any other materials you have used.
Remember to produce explanations in your own words and to use quotation marks and citations to refer to any passages of cited material. Do not forget to include references to any such material at the end of the question.
Paste this report into your solution document.
Write no more than 450 words for Question 6 (including headings and citations but not references).
Question 7 Presentation (5 marks, individually assessed)
Up to 5 marks will be awarded for using your TMA to demonstrate that you can communicate effectively. This includes:
- using appropriate terminology, notation and diagrams
- clear layout
- avoiding careless mistakes with language and spelling
- professional standard of the presentation of your team report including team name, members of the team, headings, sub-headings and page numbers.
Figure 1 A screenshot of the question navigation panel (yours may look different from the example shown)
Figure 1: A screenshot of the question navigation panel from the Quiz application on the VLE. The figure shows 18 questions, some have been attempted, some have not.
Back to – Figure 1 A screenshot of the question navigation panel (yours may look different from the example shown)