To carry out this assignment, it will be necessary for you to read other texts and journal articles on PM Plans to gain an understanding of their role. It is recommended that you use the e-Books and electronic journals available from the USQ Library website.
By now, you should have chosen a project for which a project management plan (PMP) (sometimes described as a Project Plan or a Project Implementation Plan) is available. The PMP is a document that should adequately define what is to be done, who is to do it, when they are to do it, etc. If you are working on a very large project, use one of its sub-projects for your assignment. If the project is too large, it may increase your workload significantly and it is not recommended. Your PMP may be a single document or it may be a compilation of several documents prepared for the project. The PMP might be a plan that you produce yourself for this assignment, or it might be a plan that you import from your workplace, or from an external source. Note carefully that a project schedule or a Gantt chart by itself is NOT a PMP.
Your submission should have TWO PARTS.
• The first part is the body of the assignment and is a ‘critical analysis’ of your chosen PMP. It will contain a description of the project and a critical analysis of the structure and content of the PMP, fully supported by reference to relevant project management theory. It is not a critical analysis of the project itself, nor how it was managed. The focus should be on the PMP. Read the study materials and a wide range of other reference materials (including the PMBOK® Guide and the set text) to be clear on the purpose and content of a PMP as this topic is not widely covered in the literature. You will have to research relevant literature to complete this assignment, using the e-Books in the USQ Library.
• The second part is Appendix 1 which should be the ‘Project Management Plan’ (sometimes described as a Project Plan) for your chosen project. The PMP might be a plan that you produce yourself for this assignment, or it might be a plan that you import from your workplace, or from an external source. You must state clearly the source of the plan. NOTE: no marks are allocated for the actual PMP as it may not be original work in many instances. Any other attachments would become Appendix 2, 3, etc.
If you produce your own project management plan, it is strongly recommended that you use project management software for development of the project schedule and network. You may also use it to develop the project budget, but a spreadsheet can be equally useful. It is essential that you become familiar with the software at the earliest opportunity as it can be time-consuming to learn how to use it effectively. The course leader is not available to provide guidance on the use of the software, although other students may help through exchanges on the Discussion Board.
Title page: Ensure that your document includes a normal report cover sheet or title page that would be expected of a professional document to provide details of report title, author, date, student number, etc. (this is in addition to the electronic mark sheet discussed above). This assignment is a professional academic paper so should be presented as one.
PART 1: CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF THE PROJECT MANAGEMENT PLAN
Executive Summary (200–250 words but this does not form part of the assignment word count). The executive summary comes before the table of contents. Read the guidelines and provide a formal Executive Summary with details of why the report was prepared, how it is structured, and what the important findings, conclusions and recommendations are. The Executive Summary relates to the analysis only. (SUGGESTION: this should be written last after you have finished the report.)
Table of contents: This should be a full listing with respective page numbers of executive summary, introduction, main sections, references, individual appendices, and full listing of all figures and tables.
1. Introduction (250 words): Briefly state why your report has been prepared, what project is being analysed, and how the report is structured. (Note – this may be similar to the introduction in assignment 1 if you have used the same project, but this is a new report, and you need to provide the information your reader needs to understand the report. You can use the same information in both assignments. There is no need to reference assignment 1 if you are using your original work.)
2. Project background (250 words): Your project description should describe the project and its context – what organisation is the project owner/sponsor, what this organisation does, why the project is being done, where it is located, etc. The description should contain enough detail for the reader to understand the reason behind each of the components of the plan – why it is included and its content and format.
3. Audience and structure of the Project Management Plan (1000–1500 words approximately)
o 3.1 Provide a critical analysis of who is intended to be the main audience of the PM plan? What do they need to know? How will they use the plan? What information needs to be provided?
o 3.2 What alternatives exist for the structure of a PM plan (examine and compare a range of theories and opinions here)? How should that information be provided? In what sequence? What does the theory say?
4. Contents of the Project Management Plan (1000–1500 words approximately)
Provide a critical analysis of the major sections of the plan and provide some theoretical framework for what is included in each section (e.g. Why has a project schedule been included, is it a meaningful document, was it prepared by the right people, does it contain the right information, etc.?) This explanation will be drawn from the study modules, text book, selected readings, and other sources. This discussion will probably cover most, if not all, knowledge areas covered under the Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) (PMI 2013) in one form or another. It does not have to be under those headings but should clearly indicate that it covers all recognised areas covered by the various Project Management Bodies of Knowledge.
5. Conclusions (250 words): Summarise your findings from the analysis of your project management plan. What did you find out about the project plan? Does it conform to the recognised theory? What aspects are important and are of significance to project outcomes? What are its strengths and its weaknesses? (Focus here on the project plan and not on the theory).
6. Recommendations (250 words): What are your recommendations flowing from this analysis with regard to your chosen PMP? What changes should be made to your PMP for this project (or similar future projects)? Address the shortcomings identified in the conclusions. Again, focus on recommendations related to your PMP and not on the project itself.
List of references: Provide a complete list of references providing full details of all citations used in the body of the assignment. AT LEAST 15-20 REFERENCES REQUIRED INCLUDING THE SOURCE OF THE PMP.
Appendices: The PMP you have analysed will be attached as Appendix 1 (see below). Attach any additional appendices that relate specifically to the analysis following appendix 1. They should be numbered sequentially in the order in which they appear (Appendix 2, etc.).
PART 2: APPENDIX 1 – THE PROJECT MANAGEMENT PLAN
Appendix 1 should ideally be an actual project management plan for your chosen project and would be the sort of document that would be handed to a client/manager to illustrate how it is intended to manage the project through to completion. A project plan is often used to gain sponsor/client commitment, and should contain sufficient information to allow such a decision to be made with confidence. Make sure you understand what a project management plan is before you select a document for analysis.
It might be a document that you create yourself for this assignment or it might be an existing plan from your place of work or from another source if you don’t have access to one from your workplace. Either way,the source should be clearly indicated.
Appendices in addition to the PM plan may be attached to the report. If so, they should be numbered sequentially, e.g. Appendix 2, Appendix 3, etc.
Executive summary (required only for assignment 2)
• An Executive summary must be provided for assignment 2 case study (before the Contents page). It provides a reader with a summary of why the report (assignment) was prepared, what it covers, and a summation of the conclusions, and/or recommendations.
• It should be about 10% of the assignment length, single line spacing, and is excluded from formal word counts.
• It is not an introduction, but should function as a totally self-contained removable document for readers who will read no more of the report.
• It should contain all pertinent information including conclusions and recommendations in a concise summary, but should not contain any theory.
Table of contents and numbering (required only for assignment 2)
A comprehensive table of contents is required for assignment 2, with section numbers, section headings, and page numbers as per the assignment requirements. It will include the List of references, a List of appendices, a List of figures, and a List of tables, all with page numbers indicated. All sections and pages should be fully numbered. At this level of study, you should be able to use the automated table of contents function in MS Word to create a professional report.
Introduction (for assignments 1 and 2)
• An Introduction should be provided at the beginning to summarise the structure of the following sections of the essay/report/assignment.
• The introduction does not contain theory, nor does it contain any conclusions nor recommendations.
• Do not assume that the reader has read any Executive Summary (if one is provided), as it is a totally separate document. Include any relevant information in the Introduction
Body of assignment (for assignments 1 and 2)
• This is an academic assignment, so it is essential that your statements and views be justified by relevant academic theory. For example, don’t just use terms like ‘stakeholder’ – explain why you selected those terms, and the academic theory to justify their use and definition.
• A major failing of students is to simply ‘describe’ the processes that have happened. At postgraduate level, you are expected to be able to apply recognised theory to situations, and form opinions. You will often find conflicting opinions from so-called ‘experts’. You should be developing analytical and communication skills.
• Students coming from other universities, and especially overseas students, find this need for ‘analysis’ the most difficult transition to make to Australian university study. You are expected to use your judgement to analyse problems, make value judgements as to whether it is good or bad (or both), use existing academic theory from a range of sources to justify your position, and to argue whether something is valid or not. In the study of management, there are no right nor wrong answers, only lots of opinions, many of which change over a period of time. Show that you can act as managers, and communicate your opinions.
Figures and tables
• There are many instances where diagrams and tables would assist in the communication of information, and the reduction of word length. For example, if a stakeholder analysis were required, it would be much more clearly understood if presented in a table.
• Figures and tables must be numbered in some logical way, so they can be listed on the Contents page, and referred to in the text. A recommendation is that you call it Figure/Table X.1, X.2 etc. where ‘X’ represents the section number. Consecutive numbering through the whole document (rather than by section) can mean lots of renumbering if there are changes.
• Tables should not run over onto following pages. Start them on a new page to avoid this. If they are multi-page tables, then think about making them into an appendix. Use a smaller font (10 point) and single line spacing to reduce the size of tables.
• Where required, larger amounts of relevant material (such as sample documents or supporting material) should be put at the end of the assignment in an Appendix after the List of References. Smaller charts or summaries could be located in the text, but anything over a page becomes a distraction.
• Where included, appendices should be numbered sequentially (Appendix 1, Appendix 2, etc.). Unnecessary and irrelevant information should not be attached. Size of assignments has no bearing on marks achieved.