(Computaware Ltd is a fictitious company used for the purposes of this case study)
Computaware Ltd are a software company based in Cambridge, UK. They were established in 1991 and produce Field Management Software (FMS) which allows the mobilisation and management of field workers by their clients. Their main competitors are Solavista and Job Logic, who are market leaders in the provision of FM software for SMEs.
You have been recruited as Project Panning Officer (PPO) to introduce a new way of managing their internal development and external customer projects, based on feedback from the CEO. You will plan the implementation of the new way of working and deliver a report to the board on how and why you will do so.
Computaware currently use a mixture of Agile Project Management for the software development teams (which was introduced in 2013) and a waterfall method, which over the years has been refined and formalised to follow the methodology laid out in PMBOK; Initiating, planning, executing, controlling, and closing.
Computaware has been a growing company over the years and the CEO and executive team pride themselves on the reliability and robustness of their product and their ethos of ‘One product for all’, which means that all clients run virtually the same installation of the software (known as BetterFM) with minimal adaptation for the client’s business processes and branding.
However, the CEO has felt that recently, Computaware have been struggling with communication issues internally, leading to friction and poor communication between the teams who use different styles to manage their projects. This came to head this year, when the head of the database team resigned to join a startup in London, causing development to be held for nearly six months on the database module which is core to the system. The CEO believes that the root cause is that the software teams use an Agile Project management Methodology, and the Customer installation and implementation team who are the strongest single team in the company, use a more traditional waterfall methodology, which the whole company once used across teams. Geoffrey Mackay, the Director of implementation has made it very clear that his focus is to reduce risk, deliver quality and control costs. His way of managing projects he believes does exactly this. The heads of the other teams say that if they didn’t use Agile, they would be five years behind the competition, and they are losing pace every quarter.
The executive team feel the product is becoming uncompetitive, due to staff leaving and internal wrangles and revenues have already dropped in the last two years from c. £10m to £8m.
You will be required to analyse the work of all teams working on BetterFM, who each are responsible for a module that fits together to make the whole product. These modules (and teams) are:
• Financial Systems Integrator
• Web Portal
• Office Back-end
• Field staff mobile platform (A PDA type system that field engineers use to report their work back to the Office)
• Sales module
• Customer installation and implementation
The CI&I module and team (led by Geoffrey Mackay) work to install and implement the core software for each customer that buys Computaware, and their work is always different each time, representing their diverse customer base, and this team do no software development.
Your report will need to explain how to improve the communication issues, and be able to release software faster to represent the pace of new technology. You should advise on the risks, benefits and challenges of your new approach both for the software development teams and the implementation team. You should pay particular attention to increasing revenues, growing the customer base and allowing faster release of products with the same reliability the company has enjoyed.
You have four months to deliver the report and plan the introduction for Computaware – the new software ‘BetterFM X’ has been announced for Q2 2018
Your budget for this project is £200,000. This will cover all costs for new software, hardware, travel to meetings and consultants costs.
The only costs this budget would not cover would be the salaries of any project managers seconded full or part-time to support you. They would draw their salaries exactly as usual from their unit which does not impact on your budget.
Personnel allocated for your study are: two secretaries with a salary at £ 3,250 p.c.m. (per current month) each, and two consultants at £ 100 per hour or £ 800 per day each.
The implementation of the new Project Structure
Work for your report should start immediately. Please discuss the following issues:
Identification of best practices of Project Management Communication: you need to meet with all project managers of Computaware to identify best practices and project weaknesses. This should take no more than 20 working days. This should include information about current projects, measures to control processes, and current planning and evaluation techniques.