Estimating Costs and Allocating Resources

This week we asked to locate two useful resources that can be used to estimating the costs, effort, and/or activity durations associated with ID projects.

Resource #1

“The Houston Chronicle, one of the largest newspapers in the United States, was founded in 1901 and was acquired by Hearst in 1987. In addition to delivering in-depth coverage of local issues, the Houston Chronicle is committed to covering state, national and international news.” (Houston Chronicle | Hearst)

In its article, titled, “Six Methods For The Estimation Of Activity Duration In Project Management”, six methods are referenced that can be used to obtain reliable estimates. This resource is very useful because it gives the project manager numerous tools to gain a broader and more accurate perspective on the project. I like the fact that the tools include looking at past projects within the company and similar activities within the company to gauge the time span and volume of work that is completed and the expenditure. This perspective allows the PM to consider the work culture within the company as point for decision making.

Resource #2

This pdf document is a government document which was prepared by the Department of Cooperative Governance & Traditional Affairs, Republlic of South Africa. “The overall objective was therefore to develop a practical, current and relevant nation-wide system of guidance for municipalities, their service providers and ultimately national and provincial government in terms of the provision of basic infrastructure service provision cost values that reflect national and regional impacts, and provide comparative value for high level planning estimates and value for money assessment guidelines.” (Municipal Infrastructure Grant)

Pages 13 – 16 pf the “Planning and Scheduling document gives a detailed list of what resources are to be used, factors that can affect the estimation, guides on how to document estimate assumptions, and what reports are need to complete this task in detail.

 

References

“Houston Chronicle | Hearst”. Hearst.com. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.

Markgraf, Bert. “Six Methods For The Estimation Of Activity Duration In Project Management”. Smallbusiness.chron.com. N.p., 2016. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.

“Municipal Infrastructure Grant”. Cooperative Governance & Traditional Affairs. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.

Blog Assignment: Communicating Effectively

 

Interpretation of Written Text

The email message sends mixed messages about the urgency of the ETA on the missing report. Jane does not give Mark a definite time when she will need his report so that leaves some ambiguity to the message. This means Mark can choose to drag his feet on his report or he can be empathetic towards Jane, if they are very good friends, and try his best to get the report to her on time. Jane was not specific about her instructions to send the data in a separate email. She presented it as an option.

Interpretation of Audio

The tone of Jane’s voice made the situation sound more urgent. Her words conveyed that although she understood that he would be busy, Mark needs to start working right away. The fact that Jane leaves out guidelines on how he needs to send the data and specific dates leaves room for miscommunication.

Interpretation of Video

Jane’s tone of voice and facial expression hardly expresses the priority and urgency that Mark should understand about completing his part of the report.

How did your interpretation of the message change from one modality to the next?

Between each modality, the urgency and importance of Jane’s request changed. The tone of voice, facial expressions and the way the email was written allowed for varied interpretation. The voice mail best conveyed the intent of the message which was the important of Mark finishing the report. The email and face-to-face communication made the report seem less urgent.

What factors influenced how you perceived the message?

Each mode carried with it a “tone of voice.” That was the main factor in determining whether Jane wanted Mark to feel that her request was urgent or not.

Which form of communication best conveyed the true meaning and intent of the message?

The voice mail best conveyed the true meaning of the message because of  the sense of urgency in Jane’s voice.

What are the implications of what you learned from this exercise for communicating effectively with members of a project team?

From this exercise I learned that it is important to choose the mode that would best suit the message that you want to convey. Also, it is important to be consistent in the kind of message you want to convey. The urgency in Jane’s voice with the voicemail could also be conveyed by changing the way that the email was worded and for the face-to-face communication, Jane’s body language needed to be more business like. I believe she should have asked Mark how far along he was with the completion of his data and make specific agreements with Mark about deadlines for submission and how it was to be submitted.

Blog Assignment: Learning from a Project “ Post-mortem”

Project Description

The project was to produce a cd album featuring a music student of the university. A talented flutist was chosen and an able accompanist was contracted. The agreement was that the album would feature ten solo pieces with a musical variety. Rehearsals, recording and final production would be take up to 8 weeks. The project had a great start but had a number of challenges which did not allow the completion of the project to its full potential.

 

Successes of the Flute Album Project

  • A project calendar was created to ensure the completion of the project within the eight week time frame
  • The ten songs to be included in the album were included in the album were pre-selected which saved planning time
  • The flutist and pianist stayed committed to their roles in the project
  • The equipment needed to complete the project was always available and was of quality standard so the project’s final production was expected to be of a high standard

 

Failures of the project

  • Rehearsals between the pianist and the flutist were not consistent so some songs took longer to record and the quality of performance of some songs were not as they could have been. The project calendar should have taken into consideration more rehearsal times than only recording times.
  • Sufficient time was not allocated to pre-planning so a few things were overlooked such as creating an album cover
  • A project manager should have been chosen to oversee rehearsals and recordings to ensure make decisions about adjustments to the project as various challenges arose

 

Analyzing Scope Creep

Describe a project, either personal or professional, that experienced issues related to scope creep.

4Lin’s apartment has been in operation for about thirteen years. The small complex now has a total of 8 one and two bedrooms apartments. Over the years the owner, Mr. Lin, has done numerous renovation projects to modernize the apartments. The latest renovation is on the oldest apartment on the compound. This renovation had become more necessary because of the extensive termite damage to the ceilings and door jams in the two bedroom apartment. The initial project was to repair the entire ceiling, expand the kitchen and upgrade all the windows. The cost of the project was estimated at $5K USD and was to be completed in 5 months and attract an increase in rent of 50 USD.

The project started off well with the new ceiling bed being installed within the first three weeks and finishing work being done such as painting and crown molding. The windows were already being built by a supplier and demolition for the expansion of the kitchen was already underway by week three.

What specific scope creep issues occurred?

As the project progressed, Mr. Lin had additional ideas to modernize the apartment. New furniture styles and larger sizes demanded a bigger space than the apartment currently offered, considering his recent experience with a couple who just moved in who had difficulty installing their furniture and appliances because the door width was too small. The new types of furniture and appliances demanded larger entry ways and living spaces. Also the initial plan to repurpose the cupboard material to reduce costs for the expansion of the kitchen was not possible as planned because the carpenter was not able to course the same wood to match the old cupboard so money had to be spent to buy new material to build cupboards for the kitchen.

The project is now 7 months beyond the agreed date of completion and none of the projects have reach 100% completion.

How did you or other stakeholders deal with those issues at the time?

Mr. Lin had hoped to have tenants occupying the apartment already but the expansion of the project had increased expenses and blown the timeline out of the water. The project has slowed down over time and is currently at a halt until more funds can be garnered for the project.

Had you been in the position of managing the project, what could you have done to better manage these issues and control the scope of the project?

There are a number of strategic ways in which scope creep can be managed. One of the major issues with this project was managing the changes. A process should have been established to manage the expansion of the project. “You can expect there to be a degree of scope creep in most projects, therefore it is important to design a process to manage these changes. A simple process of document, consider, approve and resource can be implemented.” (Bisk, 2016)

References

Clark, T. (2014). How to Manage Scope Creep—and Even Prevent It From Happening – LiquidPlanner. LiquidPlanner. Retrieved 4 December 2016, from https://www.liquidplanner.com/blog/manage-scope-creep-even-prevent-happening/

Bisk.(2016). Managing Scope Creep in Project Management. Villanovau.com. Retrieved 4 December 2016, from https://www.villanovau.com/resources/project-management/project-management-scope-creep/#.WERVfRorLIV

Estimating Costs and Allocating Resources

This week we asked to locate two useful resources that can be used to estimating the costs, effort, and/or activity durations associated with ID projects.

Resource #1

“The Houston Chronicle, one of the largest newspapers in the United States, was founded in 1901 and was acquired by Hearst in 1987. In addition to delivering in-depth coverage of local issues, the Houston Chronicle is committed to covering state, national and international news.” (Houston Chronicle | Hearst)

In its article, titled, “Six Methods For The Estimation Of Activity Duration In Project Management”, six methods are referenced that can be used to obtain reliable estimates. This resource is very useful because it gives the project manager numerous tools to gain a broader and more accurate perspective on the project. I like the fact that the tools include looking at past projects within the company and similar activities within the company to gauge the time span and volume of work that is completed and the expenditure. This perspective allows the PM to consider the work culture within the company as point for decision making.

Resource #2

This pdf document is a government document which was prepared by the Department of Cooperative Governance & Traditional Affairs, Republlic of South Africa. “The overall objective was therefore to develop a practical, current and relevant nation-wide system of guidance for municipalities, their service providers and ultimately national and provincial government in terms of the provision of basic infrastructure service provision cost values that reflect national and regional impacts, and provide comparative value for high level planning estimates and value for money assessment guidelines.” (Municipal Infrastructure Grant)

Pages 13 – 16 pf the “Planning and Scheduling document gives a detailed list of what resources are to be used, factors that can affect the estimation, guides on how to document estimate assumptions, and what reports are need to complete this task in detail.

 

References

“Houston Chronicle | Hearst”. Hearst.com. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.

Markgraf, Bert. “Six Methods For The Estimation Of Activity Duration In Project Management”. Smallbusiness.chron.com. N.p., 2016. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.

“Municipal Infrastructure Grant”. Cooperative Governance & Traditional Affairs. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.

Project “Post Mortem”

Project Debrief/Post Mortem

Project Description

The project was to produce a cd album featuring a music student of the university. A talented flutist was chosen and an able accompanist was contracted. The agreement was that the album would feature ten solo pieces with a musical variety. Rehearsals, recording and final production would be take up to 8 weeks. The project had a great start but had a number of challenges which did not allow the completion of the project to its full potential.

Successes of the Flute Album Project

  • A project calendar was created to ensure the completion of the project within the eight week time frame
  • The ten songs to be included in the album were included in the album were pre-selected which saved planning time
  • The flutist and pianist stayed committed to their roles in the project
  • The equipment needed to complete the project was always available and was of quality standard so the project’s final production was expected to be of a high standard

Failures of the project

  • Rehearsals between the pianist and the flutist were not consistent so some songs took longer to record and the quality of performance of some songs were not as they could have been. The project calendar should have taken into consideration more rehearsal times than only recording times.
  • Sufficient time was not allocated to pre-planning so a few things were overlooked such as creating an album cover
  • A project manager should have been chosen to oversee rehearsals and recordings to ensure make decisions about adjustments to the project as various challenges arose

 

References
Greer, M. (2010). The project management minimalist: Just enough PM to rock your           projects! (Laureate custom ed.). Baltimore: Laureate Education, Inc.

 

Reflection

Task

Considering your learning in this course and the presentation this week by Dr. Siemens, reflect on the current and future perceptions of distance learning in our society. Take into account the societal forces in the world, including the advocates for and skeptics of distance learning.

Distance Learning in the Future

Dr. Siemens mentioned that distance education is becoming more accepted because of people’s experience with technology tools and the varying modes of communication. (Laureate Education, n.d.). For education to remain relevant it too must change with or incorporate the experiences of individuals. If we are to reflect on the industrial era, the education at that time prepared people for the working skill needed at that time. Otto Peter’s (1988) theory of industrialization reflected the experience and skill of the workforce at that time. According to Dede (2005) “Higher education institutions can prosper by using these emerging technologies to deliver instruction matched to the increasingly “neomillennial” learning styles  of  their  students” (p. 7). In the next ten to twenty years, I believe that distance education will become more of an option at the primary school level and at least 70% of the offering at the tertiary level whether it an asynchronous, synchronous or blended learning format. As people become busier, and the demand for education and training increases we will see distance education being the solution to fulfilling the needs for flexibility and education.

 

Improving Societal Perceptions of Distance Learning

One of the ways in which instructional designers can improve the perceptions of Distance Learning is through research.  “In  general,  the  requirements  of  non-traditional  settings,  like online learning environments, have received only a small amount of research and  are  not  well  understood” (Huett, Moller, Foshay & Coleman, 2008). Research create a knowledge base for the profession and standardizes practices.

Secondly, train instructors to offer greater engagement,  flexibility and power in the hand of the student by incorporating e-learning into their courses. Institution would be more inclined also to adopt this because of its economic advantages. “The  motivating  factors  for  corporate  e-learning  are  predominantly  economic…Enterprise managers now demand transformative change of the training function. The most direct  rationale  for  this  change  is  based  on  reductions  in  training  delivery  costs” (Moller, Foshay & Huett, 2008).

Improvement in the field of distance education

As distance education continues to develop the instructional designer becomes an integral part of this process. Through an understanding of learning theories, learning technologies and sound educational practice the instructional designer should not only seek to solve a learning problem but also seeks to push the boundaries for innovative and transformative education. As technology constantly changes and people becomes more familiar with these various technology, the instructional designer should keep abreast of this and seek ways to harness this and to be used for education and training.

References

Dede, C. (2005). Planning for neomillennial learning styles. Educause Quarterly, 28(1), 7–12.

 

Huett, J., Moller, L., Foshay, W., & Coleman, C. (2008). The evolution of distance education: Implications for instructional design on the potential of the web (Part 3: K12). TechTrends, 52(5), 636 7.

 

Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). The future of distance education [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

 

Moller, L., Ftoshay, W., & Huett, J. (2008). The evolution of distance education: Implications for instructional design on the potential of the web (Part 1: Training and development). TechTrends, 52(3), 7075.