02 Nov 2012

Essay Topic: Case Study

The most critical project goal on the project path is finalizing test subjects: Fully four tasks (preparing the product and the placebo, creating a data analysis database and hypothetical test data) hinge upon finalizing test subjects alone, with no other element of the project having more than a single presence as a predecessor for the next phase. While normally this project would see an earlier completion time due to having two branching paths for much of the later steps, the limited number of workers available to do the work means that the total duration of the project is equal to the total duration of each task (minus five days for Tony’s test database which can be done in parallel with the subject testing), or 120 units.

The NutroBalance project, to research and produce a safe UltraMAX weight-loss supplement targeted at athletic women, will begin on February 22, 2010. Four employees total have been assigned to the project: Sarah, a test subject recruiter and screener; Robert, the drug analyst; Tony, the IT professional; and Lisa, the statistician. The estimated length of the project is 125 days. Since there is no maximum length, there has been no need to assign overtime; thus, we plan on spending $2000 for compensation for Sarah, $425 for Tony, $2310 for Robert and $500 for Lisa for a total of $5235 in compensation. The assumption for this cost is that these personnel are either not paid when not working or, far more likely, are working on another project for the company: If they have to be paid for twiddling their thumbs, the project cost increases markedly.

The largest resource constraint is the number of personnel by far. There are branching paths in the project: Even if the sixty-five days necessary to test subjects couldn’t be made more efficient in any way through parallel work and specialization of duties, or any other element of the project could be made more efficient similarly, the fact remains that testing the database with hypothetical data is done far earlier than inputting actual data even though there is a split in the mission path. Moreover, Sarah’s work is entirely at the start of the project while Lisa’s is at the end. The only parallel path that is conducted at all is Tony working on the test database while Robert actually tests, and Sarah has ten days after developing hypothetical test data before Tony can even begin using that work. However, this schedule was conducted assuming that there were no other workers available for these tasks.

The primary risk to project completion is that if any worker is sick, if any task takes longer than expected, or if there’s any problems (especially during the sixty-five days of subject testing), the entire project has no redundancies due to its highly linear direction, despite a large amount of available manhours. As it is, if the project gets past the testing with no difficulties, it is not likely to fail.

Executive Summary

The UltraMAX project is ten days and $500 behind schedule due to an unexpected delay in the process of screening test subjects. Doing so appropriately is crucial for the entire project: Improperly cause test subjects can cause the entire sixty-five days of actual testing to produce bad data that has to be thrown out in its entirety. Thus far, identifying target consumers went a day faster than expected, and recruiting test subjects went exactly as quickly as expected. It is especially unfortunate because Sarah’s work is the most expensive and her work is what took longer.

The most crucial way of getting the project back on track would be to assign Sarah or a new resource to Tony or Robert’s work, as their twelve day goals are the major hurdles. If finalizing test subjects could be completed in three days rather than five (a reasonable assumption given how well identifying target consumers went), data-base and subject testing could be completed in fifty days rather than sixty-five (more difficult given that testing must have a minimum time but possible if elements are done in tandem with the workers who are waiting for their next phase of the project), and actual data inputting could be done in five days rather than seven, the project would be back on track.

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