Project Management Adages … “Plan the Work, then Work the Plan” “Well Begun, Half-Done” “Work Smarter, not Harder” “A job worth doing is worth doing well” In other words, everyone has trouble managing projects and managing people
Organizing the Project Understand the project –Does the project have a clear purpose or meet a specific need (P&N) –If not, can it be modified (at the beginning!) to have one? And can it be limited to only that purpose or need?(Scope) –Develop a vision of the completed project and get excited about seeing it through –RULE OF THUMB: If you can’t summarize the project in one sentence, the project purpose needs to be refined –All projects must make “business sense” – the benefits outweigh the development cost
Organizing continued Line up your resources –Get a commitment from management –Know your preliminary budget –Self-assess your skills (and those of your team) – Are they sufficient to meet the demands of the project? –If not, can you get training in time to meet the demands or can you pick team members that have the skills needed for the project? –If neither of these options is available, ethically you need to respectfully decline the project or line up a consultant
Documenting the Project All engineering projects create a paper trail. Well documented projects can be easily understood from conception to completion by following the paper Projects with good documentation NEVER need to be repeated (Never invent the wheel more than once) It takes time to document. It wastes time to not document!
Documenting continued START at the BEGINNING –Meet with the customer (end-user of the project) to identify all Needs and Wants –Identify the components that constitute a completed project (i.e. a working prototype, an operating manual, etc.). These are called “Deliverables”. –Date your documentation and mark with a Revision number
Project Timeline With the project well defined by it’s deliverables and the customer’s needs, start breaking it up into tasks Engineers invest time at the front end of the project to thoroughly think it through in as much step-by-step detail as possible, documenting all along the way –There would be no space program or skyscrapers without engineers designing and troubleshooting ON PAPER prior to construction. The cost and risk would outweigh the benefit
Timeline continued With the project broken into tasks, a timeline for completion is created –Start with the completion Deadline –Then work backward toward the present –Each task must be assigned ownership to a team member –Each task must also be assigned a completion date, based on the workload of the team and impact the task has on the completion of other tasks and overall completion of the project –DOCUMENT THIS PROCESS
Timeline continued A well planned timeline becomes a project schedule. Set reasonable tasks and task deadlines, then MEET THEM Make sure team members understand their tasks and have the resources to complete them Tasks can be considered mini projects. Team members should apply the project management principles to the tasks as well, breaking them into sub-tasks and scheduling their completion.
Project Management With a detailed and documented Timeline in hand, revisit the Budget, making a detailed engineering estimate of time and materials. With Timeline and Budget fully developed and communicated to team members, management and the customer, the project is ready to start. With a good timeline, the project is Trackable. It becomes a contract that binds everyone to meeting deadlines. It allows you to see where, when and why a project gets into trouble. ALL PROJECTS GET INTO TROUBLE
The Project Manager A Good Project Manager is: –First and Foremost a good communicator, sharing information, conveying a vision for the project, convincing management to commit and team members to work –Secondly, willing to invest the time to plan, document and track the project – Fussy Details –Motivated by the vision of the completed project and able to find ways to motivate others to share that vision
Conclusions The ability to break the project into clear and reasonable tasks is essential to making progress (Most common shortcoming of Project Management) Clear and reasonable tasks can only result from a deep understanding of a project that has been properly defined in scope Deep understanding of a project TAKES TIME. Be willing to invest the time and energy.
Summary Determine the Project’s Purpose and Necessity and limit its Scope to that P&N Start the Documentation Process by assessing the Customer’s Needs and Wants and what you will Deliver. Think through the project, identifying Tasks. Develop a detailed cost estimate. Assemble your resources and develop a reasonable timeline. Track, Track, Track Document, Document, Document Celebrate upon successful completion
References: Chap, James: 5-Steps to Project Success, v1.1,http://www.youtube.com/JimChap1http://www.youtube.com/JimChap1
Senior Design Handbook
Technical Writing Write to a Specific Audience Make an Outline for the entire paper The First Page is Priceless! Write it last. Summarize.
Technical Writing Use plain English. Limit the length of phrases. Use strong Verbs (show confidence) –Weak: It is hoped that the design demonstrates robustness. –Strong: The design demonstrates robustness. Test the document with the intended audience –(proof read by you and at least one other person)
Technical Writing Format to emphasize important information (bold, bullets, color, etc) Invest time in the quality of your illustrations and the way you describe them. Don’t write a long paragraph when a picture and one sentence says more! Avoid common grammar and punctuation errors: –Do a word search for every instance of your common mistakes –My pet peeves: to, too ; your, you’re their, there, they’re
Technical Writing Professional Documents are written in the third person: Professional Documents are written in a single tense (Usually past tense) –Good: “The experiment was performed to the specified parameters with satisfactory results.” –Poor: “We performed the experiment satisfactorily. And it is good.”
Deadlines: 1 st draft of final paper: November 23 Abstract and Presentation Announcement due in ECE office the week of Dec 3 Demonstration fully operational: Dec 5 Draft of oral presentation: Dec 7 Presentation/Battle Royale: Week of December 10
For Next Week: Each Person will Write a P&N for the project. - 1 Page (Quality, not Quantity!) - Convince me that the world will stop turning unless I approve your project - If you use a picture, make SURE you credit the source - If you direct quote anyone, cite your source - Include a budgetary estimate of the time and materials necessary to do the project
Also for Next Week Familiarize yourself with the Digilent NEXSYS 2 eval board by doing several of Dr. Kwon’s EE 1315 labs, available at: _fpga/1315lab.html