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Posted on October 7th, 2012, by

Project management is the discipline that studies how to plan, organize and manage resources in order to successfully complete a project a certain effort aimed at creating a particular product or service. Software project management is the subdiscipline of project management where software projects are planned, monitored and controlled. The aim of this essay is to discuss the processes operating in the risk and quality management knowledge areas, analyze the role of these processes, outline the techniques how the plan is modified and corrected and consider the context of plan-do-check-act process flow.

1. Risk and quality processes

PMBOK outlines nine knowledge areas (Edosomwan 1996):

ü    project integration management

ü    project scope management

ü    project time management

ü    project cost management

ü    project quality management

ü    project human resource management

ü    project communications management

ü    project risk management

ü    project procurement management

Project quality management describes the processes involved in assuring that the project will satisfy the objectives for which it was undertaken. It includes the following processes: plan quality (planning stage), perform quality assurance (executing stage) and perform quality control (monitoring and control stage).

Project risk management describes the processes concerned with conducting risk management on a project. Risk management includes 4 processes in the planning stage (plan risk management, identify risks, perform qualitative risk analysis, plan risk response) and monitor and control risks (monitoring and control stage correspondingly).

Quality is the totality of features and characteristics of a product or service that bear on the ability to satisfy specific or implied needs.

Quality assurance activities do pose a direct or indirect risk to the software development process. Current software risk management has been adapted from concepts, practices, and principles which has been successfully used within other engineering and manufacturing arenas. The objectives of software risk management is to identify, address, and eliminate potential elements of risk before they become either threats to successful software operation or major sources of software rework (Edosomwan 1996).

For example, one can evaluate what has changed in an application and find that it touches a number of requirements, some of which are high-risk and high-priority requirements. Depending on the allowed level of risk and the amount of time available for validation, one can develop rather a precise estimate of how long a test cycle will take and where to focus the efforts.

2. PDCA processes

Within the course of the project, the work scope changes; the process of noting, documenting, analyzing changes and reacting to them is referred to as change management. It includes three basic steps: measurement, evaluation and correction. The cycle of these three actions may be repeated several times until reaching a desired result. Figure 1 illustrated the process of change management.

One of the most efficient approaches to change management is the PDCA cycle plan-do-check-act sequence of actions. These 4 actions represent a valuable process that can be applied to practically anything that may be regarded as a project. In the first step (plan), a way to effect improvement is developed. In the second step (do), the plan is carried out, preferably on a small scale. In the third step (check), a study takes place between what was predicted and what was observed in the previous step. In the last step (act), action is taken on the causal system to effect the desired change (Tapping & Poseqay & Harper 2008). Again, this process may be iterative and repeat until reaching the demands. There is also a Japanese methodology called Six Sigma which also represents iterative changes carried on in the course of the project. But the context of PDCA process is more generic, since it is more of a scientific method and it doesn’t advice which methods to use; PDCA rather leads to the general direction of continual improvement.

Project manager needs to consider what is going to occur in the project from the beginning to the end. However, the real working progress will in some way differ from the expected results. All projects have risks and identifying these risks is critical for project success. Besides clear identifying risks, quality improvement should necessarily take place. PDCA process in this case is one of the optimal approaches; it allows to take corrective actions on time, improve productivity and optimize time spending.

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