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Project Management CaseCase Study

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DU Keystone Conference: Budget Issues

Project Management Case - Ducks Unlimited

The budget changes demand a reordering of priorities and a different way of looking at how to get the work accomplished. The planning manager has boxes himself in by tying the committee work to the establishment of an intranet, a relatively expensive undertaking for a non-profit agency that does not have the fiscal resources of a corporation or large enterprise. The first assumption is that a different tack will be taken with regard to the platform for communication among the committee members and among the conference planners.

Plan a

Create a new WBS (Work Breakdown Structure) using the new budgeting parameters.

Project: Ducks Unlimited Keystone Conference

Workplan for Conference Logistics

Communicate funding change organization-wide (email)

Project Charter development

Invite feedback and recommendations for charter

Develop Project Charter (Google Docs)

Deliverable -- Submit Project Charter

c. Elicit reviews

d. Approval / signatures of Project Charter

3. Ensure timely completion of Logistics / Planning team objectives

4. Provide conference oversight

5. Audit conference results (attendance, expenses, recommendations)

6. Document decisions and learnings

7. Update all conference files & team records

8. Gain validation of final organizational plan

9. Archive conference, meeting, and decision files & documents

Workplan for Coordination of Virtual Teams

1. Communicate new plan for carrying out work of the virtual teams (email)

Google Docs ™ Set Up & Moderating

a. Provide training in use of Google Docs™

b. Verify user preparation for formative communication

c. Moderate all virtual team summative meetings

3. Write preliminary statement of scope

4. Identify & invite virtual team members

5. Hold virtual team kick-off meeting

6. Engage with virtual teams to develop project plans

a. Conduct project status meetings

7. Deliverables: Submit project plans to conference logistics / planning committee

8. Milestone: Approval of project plans

Overall Project Management Components

1. Coordinate and communicate any necessary changes

2. Open and close conference proceedings

3. Contract with all participating vendors

4. Arrange publicity for the conference in-session & conference outcomes

5. Update project management plan

Describe how you would develop cost estimates for this project.

Cost estimates for the project would be based primarily on historical conference and meeting data. Taken together, these figures are likely to be higher than any figures derived during a more digitally dependent period. That is, conference planning has often required face-to-face real-time meetings as opposed to conference calls, web-conferencing, and other virtual meeting tactics and practices. In addition, consultation with Google customer service can quickly determine the costs for a cloud-based document management system using Google Docs instead of a dedicated intranet for the project.

The actual costs of the conference can be ascertained by contacting various venues that offer package deals which include lodging, meeting rooms, catering, and transportation. If these costs are prohibitive -- and admittedly $280,000 does not go far when planning a conference of any size -- then one of two modifications will be required: (1) the entire conference would need to become a completely virtual event, or (2) the number of attendees for whom the organization is footing the bill (which is often the case with key team leaders and speakers) would need to be scaled down. In the second case, all speakers would be pro bono or members of Ducks Unlimited, and so considered paying conference attendees vs. paid invited speakers.

Describe a project network that could implement this project plan.

Project planning and communication will occur primarily through the use of Google Docs ™ / Sites, which is a good fit for Ducks Unlimited because there is not currently an enterprise collaboration platform at the ready for the virtual teams use ("Google Docs," 2012). Google Docs ™ / Sites permit a document sharing site to be quickly set up ("Google Docs," 2012). Google offers cloud-based document authoring tools solutions for a monthly fee ("Google Docs," 2012). Google Docs ™ provides a browser-based format for managing documents and tracking document version histories, and it is an especially good fit for ad hoc teams that must organize quickly and function well -- despite the potential for different cultures and expectations ("Google Docs," 2012). Multiple users can edit documents simultaneously ("Google Docs," 2012). Through a documents sets organization, related documents can be treated like a single work, complete with shared version history and shared metadata ("Google Docs," 2012). Documents can be placed in a "legal hold state" that supports the lifecycle management of documents ("Google Docs," 2012). As documents are added, revised, or removed from the Google Docs platform, workflow processes can be signaled, such as approvals and content publishing ("Google Docs," 2012). With its limited permission management structure, Google Docs ™ only allows users to define who can view content, as a whole, and who can edit content, as a whole, on each site ("Google Docs," 2012). The access rights for Google Sites ™ and Google Apps ™ are maintained separately, which means that upfront identification about the ability to access or edit content should be established ("Google Docs," 2012).

Describe how you would allocate resources for this project.

Given that a total of $1,725,000 was spent on lobbying efforts in 2011 by Ducks Unlimited, a figure of $1,200,000 million for an annual conference appears excessive ("Open Secrets," 2011). Assuming the available funds for the entire conference project, including the work of the virtual teams, will be $280,000, the costs will be allocated accordingly.

Conference Logistics = $200,000 for a traditional conference (no subsidized attendees)

Coordination of Virtual Teams = $30,000 for virtual meetings & document management

Overall Project Management = $50,000 for Project Manager salary

This cost breakdown assumes a very much smaller conference footprint with all attendees paying their own way or supported by various local organizations. The cost adjustments also assume that the virtual team meetings and associated work on deliverables will entail online collaboration and document management through Google Docs™, which is essentially similar to Microsoft SharePoint but with more constrained functionality ("Google Docs," 2012). Additionally, the Project Manager is assumed to be salaried personnel whose work scope encompasses a full year of full-time employment. It is further assumed that the Project Manager will lead a volunteer committee known as the Logistics & Planning Team. The Project Manager will either have or will acquire the necessary skills to set up, conduct, and moderate virtual meetings and to train and monitor virtual team members using Google Docs ™ to collaborate on project deliverables. These project deliverables include the Project Charter and the various project proposals that will be presented at the conference to the membership.

Conclusion

Virtual teams often consist of employees who work in remote locations with respect to a central organization. Although the members of a virtual team are likely to possess unique and often highly specialized skills, they may not have the capability to balance the demand on interpersonal skills with the technical demands that characterize virtual team work (Kirkman, et al., 2002). The skills that a Project Manager brings to the role are critical for the effective functioning of a virtual team. Reductions in funding need not mean a lesser quality conference or virtual team functioning. Rather, the changed budget requires a different and virtual vision -- a model that is increasingly being used with high levels of success in the private sector.

References

Google Docs. (2012). Retrieved http://support.google.com/docs/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=37371

Go-to-Meeting (2011). Retrieved http://www.gotomeeting.com/fec/

Kirkman, B.L., Rosen, B., Gibson, C.B., Tesluk, P.E., and McPherson, S.O. (2002, August). Five challenges to virtual team success: Lessons from Sabre, Inc. Academy of Management Executive, 16 (3), 67-79. Retrieved http://turbo.kean.edu/~jmcgill/sabre.htm

Open Secrets Org -- Influence Organizer: Ducks Unlimited. (2011). Retrieved http://influenceexplorer.com/organization/ducks-unlimited/

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Plan B

Introduction

In response to the severe funding cuts for the conference planning and execution, the Project Manager has switched to an entirely virtual model. Reliance on the groundbreaking Cisco model will go a long way toward the creation of a different way of conferencing and collaboration for the virtual team members and conference attendees.

Create a new WBS (Work Breakdown Structure) using the new budgeting parameters.

The key work scope functions or objectives are listed below. The project will be managed on via Microsoft Project ™ or a similar project management software. The critical paths for each of the key objectives for the project overall will be established, and the sub-tasks for each function or objective will be configured.

Ducks Unlimited Keystone Conference Work Plan

1. Virtual Conference Planning, Organization, & Logistics

2. Ready Virtual Teams for Virtual Collaboration, Meetings, & Conferencing

3. Coordination & Facilitation of Virtual Team Processes

4. Ensure Deliverables (Project Charter, Virtual Team Project Proposals)

5. Establish & Manage Contracts with Virtual Meeting Providers

6. Establish & Manage Contracts with Virtual Conference Providers

Describe how you would develop cost estimates for this project.

The magazine titled Meetings and Conventions reports that companies (not including non-profits like Ducks Unlimited) spend nearly $32 billion annually on conferences. Hotels, food, and beverages at conventions and conferences consume 58% of that total amount. The issue is… [END OF PREVIEW]

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