Problem Project Management essay


ProblemProject Management


There is often a wealth of knowledgeto guide project managers on how best to manage projects tosuccessful completion and at the same time avoiding common pitfalls.Not so much information is available on the way forward in rescuingproblem projects. There are clearly poor dynamic systemrepresentations in real-life of problem projects despite theavailability of several hybrid solutions that offer designinformation or skills for applications in project management. Thereare a several automated analyses largely associated with programmingand design elements in organization that can be broadly applied inidentifying potential relationship between system components in asimplified manner that can be applied by regular project managers.The paper advances on this field by providing a broad discussion onsome of tools and techniques that can be applied in managing problemprojects. By highlighting the simplified approaches in application ofthese tools, the author hopes to make the subject and the applicationof the tools better understood. Project managers all over the worldneed to understand the design approach to addressing problems. TheModel-Driven Analysis and the various modeling tools need to bepopularized and addressed in contemporary management and technologyliterature to achieve a paradigm shift in how problems are managed.Information engineering as discussed in the paper provides asimplified and modern way of incorporating information and dataobtained by various means.


Project management has in the last several years proved to be a keyapproach in organizational management. It enables firms to be moreeffective in achieving greater efficiencies, better resourceallocation and improve stakeholder satisfaction that in turn may be asource of competitive advantage. However, potential benefits of thisapproach are not guaranteed. There are a variety of issues that faceprojects and project managers in today’s rapidly changing businessenvironment. Rapid technological innovations have also made itnecessary for firms to adopt the project management approach inimplementing technology in their operations. It is vital that allindividuals involved in the projects take responsibility inidentifying problems and also understanding new and approaches toidentify and address emerging problems. The paper provides adiscussion on various tools and techniques in addressing problemprojects that largely utilize modeling approaches.

Monitoringand Analyzing

Analyzingsituations is largely dependent there being stages of evaluation tothe challenges at regular intervals in order to closely monitorarising issues. Researchers have identified change management as oneof the most interesting activities in organisations that attracts awide variety of reactions from individuals involved[CITATION RUN05 l 6153 ].Discussions relate to how some stakeholders or employees might reactto arising issues. Some behaviors might be supportive or havepositive impact in addressing arising issues while others may havenegative impact. Therefore, it is important to observe any changes inbehavior that will be used in identifying trends for future projects[ CITATION Agn94 l 1033 ].

Resource assessment is crucial to be carried out before projectinitiation. As is too often witnessed, most projects lack sufficientresources needed for the successful completion of the project fromthe very beginning. Prior planning should identify needed resourcesthough changes in the operating environment may create additionaldemand for more resources. However, project managers should not onlybe focused on identifying problem areas, but also opportunities ateach reporting interval. Some opportunities may arise that providemore learning opportunities or more effective utilization ofavailable resources.


Context is the location of user, the identities of people andobjects that are near the user, and the status of devices the userinteracting with”[CITATION Che00 p 23 l 1033 ]. Anotherdefinition says that context is “any information that cancharacterize the situation of an entity, where it is a user, place,service and service relevant objects, etc”[CITATION KeC11 p 3618 l 1033 ].There are four different categories of context namely location,identity, activity, and time types. Thus, the context largelypertains to any information distinguishes or describes a status of anentity as a whole or as part of a whole.

Understanding the context of a problem project requires the projectmanagement team to collect detailed information because “causesand possible solutions are usually hidden in relevant data resourcesand difficult to extract”[CITATION Chi11 l 6153 ] p.3616). This is where data mining becomes an important part of problemproject management.

The literature speaks significantly around the importance of context,[ CITATION Gab96 l 6153 ] [CITATION Chi11 l 6153 ] identifying afirm with fertile organisational context as one that facilitates thedevelopment of transfers and one that does not, considered barren. Aproblem cannot be separated from its context [CITATION Chi11 l 6153 ].Indicating under that project management approach, projectmanagers must willing to depart from the conventional approach toproblem solving that seeks to identify common problems withoutfurther exploring the varying contexts[CITATION Chi11 l 6153 ].This in particular involves Case Bases Reasoning technique, whichoutlines that one certain issues arising in one project in anorganisation, might not arise in the other carrying out the sameproject.


This tool, which is an acronym for strengths, weaknesses,opportunities and threats, is largely applied in business managementas well as project management. Under project management, SWOT is usedto identify factors or strengths that are supportive of a project. Interms of weaknesses, these relate to factors that currently limit orcan make the project vulnerable, however might be within the projectscope. The opportunities are the areas that are likely to be engagedby the project activities or scope. The threats relate to factorscurrently outside the project scope but are likely to work againstthe project [ CITATION Mer10 l 1033 ]. The situation or relevance ofthese factors maybe bound to change during the project lifecycle.Therefore, it is important to constantly evaluate the status of thefirm and the project[ CITATION Cyn11 l 1033 ].


Gap analysis is a tool applied in management and has a huge inproject management. The tool is used to compare actual performancewith potential or desired performance. The tool can be applied byproject managers of small business owners. They can apply the tool bysimply answering two questions: Where are you now? Where do you wantto be? By answering these questions, Project Manager can establishspecific objectives of their projects and identify the deliverables.Additionally, applying the GAP Analysis tool in managing IT projectsis desirable as it quickly brings incremental progress to any area ofIT function[ CITATION Mur00 l 1033 ].

Once the gap has been identified, the next step involves bridging thegap, whether it be knowledge based, resource based etc. The bridgingphase is characterized by several well-informed proposals to closethe gap. The proposals should provide only necessary enough indrawing support from the identified gap. Too much information mightbe overwhelming and might cause the client to oppose proposalsprematurely due to misunderstandings. The gap analysis should beemployed in problem projects routinely to identify direction andearly problem detection.


Communication is the number one cause of project failure”[ CITATION Gab96 l 6153 ].Therefore, it is instrumental that an effective communication plan isdeveloped prior to project initiation and the project manager isconsistently monitoring communication paths throughout ensuring nobreak downs occur. As outlined in the introduction section, “Earlyproblem identification allows time to react and alter the projectplan to incorporate the issues” this in turn will require closemonitoring and rigorous implementation by project managers in orderhighlight potential problems early.

Various studies have examined the relevance of communication inproject management. The Project Management Institute, Inc. reportsthat project teams that communicate effectively are more likely tomeet original project goals (80% versus 52%), attain projects goalson time (71% versus 37%) and stick to the budget (76% versus 48%)while one in every five projects is a problem project because of poorcommunications [ CITATION Pro13 l 1033 ]. However, poorcommunication is not just a stand-alone issue but rather a symptom ofother deep-rooted problems. Such deeper problems could be failure byPM to supervise the team well, irregular or lack of proper feedbackon project progress, hierarchal problems, cultural differences,inability to listen or focus, gender bias, poor writtencommunication, language differences, Inadequate Knowledge, poorattitude and distance to office[ CITATION And15 l 1033 ]. To addressthe issue of communication and the deeper lying problems, theapproach to communication should be systematic. A managerial approachto the situation demands realigning expectations of client andproject in order to integrate communication throughout the projectlifetime as opposed to an instantaneous approach to communication[ CITATION Mer10 l 1033 ].


This approach “a problem-solving approach that emphasizes thedrawing of pictorial system models to document and validate bothexisting and/or proposed systems. Ultimately, the system modelbecomes the blueprint for designing and constructing an improvedsystem”[ CITATION Joe16 l 6153 ]. By taking upthis approach, project managers are able to identify all existingsystems and pinpoint potential problematic areas in any project.

The creation of models is supposed to make understanding the projectdirection and problems easier to understand. The model thusidentifies the various processes, levels, entities and relationshipsamong entities in a given system. There are different categories ofmodels depending of the nature of projects. In the case of serviceoriented business processes, notable models may be business processevaluation, business process modeling, service-oriented modeling andbusiness process simulation. In creating such a model, the variousdefined elements of a business process must be indicated, the flowobjects identified alongside the connector objects, lanes/groups andartifacts. As a service model, the service concept in the projectmust be clearly identified and comprises of the requiredfunctionalities and the interfaces that offer desired functionalitiesto the client. Thus, both in business process oriented models andservice oriented models, the correspondence between the majorelements in the model must be clear[ CITATION And10 l 1033 ].

The MDA approach has received significant attention from scholars andother approaches have been derived from this model they included theModel driven engineering development and model driven architectureanalysis. However, the approach still faces major challenges. Some ofthem include the fact that it focuses on generating new problematicartifacts, the models do not factor in enough flexibility in thesystem and the fact that it focuses business problems independent ofany technology.

There are several methods/techniques in solving problems using theMDA. They include structured analysis, information engineering,object-oriented analysis, and rapid-application development(prototyping) with the first three being Model-Driven Approaches toAnalysis [ CITATION Wil98 l 1033 ].


A model-driven, process-centered method used to either scrutinize anexisting system, describe business needs for a new system, or both.The formulated model thus illustrates the system’s component piecesin form of pictures: processes and their related inputs, outputs, andcategorizers [ CITATION Joe16 l 6153 ]. The process involves keysteps as follows:

  • Studying the current business environment. This entails highlighting all the possible scenarios presented by the prevailing business environment.

  • Modeling the old logical system. This entails capturing the crux of the environment by eliminating functioning and tangible details.

  • Modeling a new logical system. Entails creating a new system based on the pre-existing system model but with improved logical model. Redundancies are eliminated and data requirements updated.

  • Modeling a new physical environment- physical details are backed by new logical design as obtained in the previous steps.

  • Evaluating alternatives- comparing competing alternatives by designing resource requirement, cost/benefit analysis for each design option.

  • Selecting the best design-Using tool described above, the best option is picked

  • Creating structured specifications- Preparing recommendations for the management’s approval and documentation for the design[ CITATION Wil98 l 1033 ].

There are threemajor approaches associated with structured analysis:

  • Functional View: This view pertains to drawing flow diagrams that trace data, define work processes and the movement ascendancy of tasks needed to provide a basis of a solution.

  • Data View: concerned with data not captured by the above system.

  • Dynamic View: This provides an overview of transition diagrams, the timing and existing environments [ CITATION Har04 l 6153 ].


The structured analytic technique also relies on pictures toillustrate both a model-drive and data centered plan that is processsensitive and synchronizes systems data and processes. The techniqueallows Project Managers to address existing cognitive limitations andpitfalls in managing problem projects[ CITATION Pennd l 1033 ].Another unique aspect of IE is that it employs Entity-Relationshipdiagrams (ERD) used in structured analysis but studying and modelingof data is done prior to the process and interface. Taken alone, thetechnique does not constitute an analytic method&nbspfor solvinggeospatial analytic problems[ CITATION Bac09 l 1033 ]. Theapproach seeks to strategically address the shortcomings of theworking processes of the human mind that tends to work through trialand error and intuitions[ CITATION FFe09 l 1033 ]. Several scholarsacknowledge that structured analysis is a relatively new method ofsecurity intelligence analysis especially after the September 11attack[CITATION Ric l 1033 ]. The approach fits the scope ofintelligence analysis under the CIA with the intended purpose of: (i)gaining an increased understanding of limitations that make data orinformation analysis difficult (ii) Increased project failuresindicating the need to reexamine how information is analyzed (iii)Demand for more collaborative work processes (iv) The desire bydecision makers and organizational leaders to have more clearanalysis that inform conclusions in projects[CITATION Ran13 l 1033 ].It should be noted that ‘intelligence’ as a term is used in thesecurity context while in business context ‘data’ or‘information’ is used instead.

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has encountered problemprojects in the past in form of misinformed evidence. They includethe reunification of Germany, something that the CIA had predictedwas impossible as the Soviet Union opposed it. However, the East andWest united anyway thus rendering their intelligence or conclusionswrong. Another case is the conclusion that weapons of massdestruction were the main reason Saddam refused to cooperate with UNinspectors. The end results showed that the CIA’s conclusion waswrong. To avoid such situations in the future, especially after theSeptember 11 attack, the structured technique analysis was adopted inassessing all intelligence gathered by the CIA[ CITATION CIA09 l 1033 ].Several steps were followed:

  1. Review of thought line on a given issue appears to be write it down for all to see.

  2. Concise articulation of all the premises: Explicit and implicit premises assumed to be true informing the intelligence are stated.

  3. Challenge each assumption. Stability of different truths under different situations is tested.

  4. Listing all major refined assumptions.

Moreover,&nbspstructured techniques&nbspprovide a variety oftools&nbspto help reach a conclusion. Even if both intuitive andscientific approaches provide the same degree of accuracy,structured&nbsptechniques have&nbspvalue in that they can be easilyused to&nbspbalance the art and science of their analysis. It isclear is that structured methodologies are severely neglected by thegeospatial community. Even in the rare cases where aspecific&nbsptechnique is used, no one&nbsptechnique is appropriateto every step of the problem solving process [ CITATION CIA09 l 1033 ].

Generally, there are several major steps involved in employing thestructured technique. Heuer classified these techniques according tothe way they assist system analysts overcome human cognitivelimitations or pitfalls to analysis as follows [ CITATION Ric08 l 1033 ]:

  1. Decomposition and Visualization: The need to decompose complex problems and visualize them in simple models is the best way for the human being to address its shortcomings. This is because the human brain handle is capable of only handling 5-9 items in working memory. Working memory in this case should be viewed same as random access memory in computers in computers or smartphones that determine the amount of applications that can be open at any one given time. The number of complexities increases geometrically with increase in the number of variables in a given issue. Thus, breaking things down and putting them on paper and indicating their interrelationship is the best way to address complex problems with numerous variables.

  2. Indicators, Signposts, Scenarios: The human mind is subject to ignore what it chooses to ignore. The same way that the human eyes chose to ignore the nose, some certain signposts in a projects life provide telltale signs of changes or problems. Because they these scenarios, indicators, signposts that can be in the form of employee changes in attitude, or such seemingly trivial issues are likely to be ignored, writing them down makes them more visible and creates an awareness of changes.

  3. Challenging Mindsets: Mindsets determine how one sees a problem or how one expects things to work out. Therefore, where critical information or evidence is missing one’s mindset fills in the missing information[ CITATION KDend l 1033 ]. Mindsets are unique and are determined by culture, personality, knowledge, nationality manga other factors. Therefore, mindsets can be hindrances in decision making and addressing problem projects because they provide ready answers to missing information. However, these mindsets only apply in certain situation and not in all situations and thus be avoided. Techniques of avoiding mindsets including reframing questions, structured self-critique and structured confrontation. Team discussions, healthy critique and brainstorming all help in challenging an existing mindset as it crates multiple ways of seeing the same problem.

  4. Hypothesis Generation and Testing: Hypothesis generation is a process of identifying several informed or logical truths pertaining to a given issue. A healthy hypothesis generating process must be able to make educated connections between cause and effect as opposed to making blanket claims. A hypothesis thus directs the thought process. Therefore, many hypotheses should be created and listed down in order to create a multifaceted view of a problem. This is critical in avoiding satisficing which is the tendency to accept the first answer that comes to mind that appears sufficiently reasonable. This also leads to searching information and evidence in support of such a truth as opposed to being objective in reasoning and searching for the truth. Good reasoning requires that all hypotheses are weighed for the truths. Examining hypothesis ad outcomes should be given greater consideration.

  5. Group Process Techniques: In the same way that analytic techniques provide structure to in one’s individual thought processes, the techniques can also provide structure to interaction of analysts within a team or group to avoid group think. Ideally, when group thinking is subjected to the same structuring process as individual thinking, then there is more likelihood to develop better thought out approaches to problems. The structured process helps bring together different perspectives of the same issue as influenced by different backgrounds and cultures that influence worldviews [ CITATION Ric08 l 1033 ].

Object-orientedanalysis (OOA) –

OOA is a model-driven technique that integrates data and processesinto constructs called objects. Thus the illustration captures thevarious objects and their interactions. The system requirements arefirst determined, the relationships between different classes orobjects are determined and the main attributes and operations of eachclass [ CITATION Joe16 l 6153 ].

The goal of OOA is to fully understand the problem and all itsimplications for its potential users. Project Managers should firstof all identify all things and concepts, i.e. objects, relevant inaddressing the problem at hand. It is in understanding the problemwell that a well thought-out solution can be developed. Theproperties, attributes and interrelationships of these thingspertinent in a given problem are likely to guide the direction of thesolution. Thus the PM shall strive to build an object-oriented of theproblem domain. Breaking down the interrelationships will alsoenhance understanding the problem and also increasing the possibilityof a better solution. Thus by identifying individual aspects of theproblem, the PM can identify simple solutions to simple individualproblems and in the process deliver a working solution to the largerproblem.

There three major steps in implementing OOA.

    1. The first is functional modeling whereby all scenarios of use cases are illustrated. Note that a scenarios is an instance of use case.

    2. The next step is class modeling which relates to placing different entities in different classes according to their attributes. Then the interrelationships and interactions between all these attributes are examined and identified clearly. This information is presented as a class diagram.

    3. The last step is dynamic modeling which involves determining the operations performed by each entity class and presenting the same information in a statechart.

A case scenariois the lift problem[CITATION Xiais l 1033 ].

The following case is a summary of a case borrowed from Xiaojun Qi’sbook from chapter 12 on an elevator problem that aptly applies OOA.

A device or softwareis required to control a given number of elevators (n) in buildingwith a given number of floors (m). There is need to develop asystematic way on how the elevators shall be moving between thefloors to serve users but have to operate within certain constraints.


    • Each floor has m buttons on the inside that corresponds to the m floors. When pressed by users, each button corresponding to the chosen floor illuminates. A button will cease to illuminate once the elevator visits the corresponding floor.

    • Each floor except the topmost and the bottom/ground floor has two buttons on the outer side by the door: the up and down elevator request. When either of the button is pressed, it illuminates until the elevators visits the floor and fulfills the request.

    • If the elevator has no pending request, it remains on a given floor with door shut.

The above scenarioscan be placed on OAA model.

Sep 1: functionalmodeling-use cases.

Based on this, these are only two possible uses or possible commandsfor the elevator: press an elevator button and press a floor button

This functionalitymodeling (generic) case is however, not sufficient. A scenario casespecific modeling is necessary. Adequate scenarios need to beexamined to get a inclusive insight into the problem.

Normal scenarios:

  1. User A is on floor 3 and presses the up button intending to go to floor 7

  2. The up button illuminates

  3. Elevator arrives at floor 3. On borad is user B who entered the elevator from the ground floor and intended to go to floor 9 (button 9 currently illuminating).

  4. Up button cancels illumination (turned off)

  5. Elevator doors open

  6. The elevator timer starts off: User A gets onboard the elevator.

  7. User A presses button 7

  8. The button for floor 7 illuminates

  9. Elevator door shut following the timeout

  10. Elevator visits floor 7

  11. Button 7 turns off

  12. Elevator doors open up to offload

  13. Time starts: user A exits elevator

  14. Elevator door closes after timeout

  15. Elevator visits floor 9 as per the illuminating button with user B onboard [ CITATION Xiais l 1033 ].

Step 2:Extracting the Entity Classes

Extract entityclasses and their attributes

– Illustrates classes in a UML diagram

• Alternative one:Derive the entity classes from the existing use cases and situations

– Potential risk: Numerous scenarios

– Numerous competing classes

• Otheralternatives:

– (Class-Responsibility-Collaboration cards for those acquaintedwith domain knowledge

– Extractions of some nounes

• Stage 1: Conciseproblem definition

Stage 2: Identifythe nouns in the informal strategy e.g. button, elevator etc. Othernouns outside the problem such as floor and building are extracted.

Possible classes areelevator and button with minor classes being floor button andelevator button.

Step 3:Extracting the Entity Classes:

Dynamic Modeling

• A statechart isthat illustrates all operations of the system

• Operationsillustrated are formed form various possible scenarios

Figure1 Source Qi OOA

From the above elevator case, it is clear that the analysis of actualobjects in OOA is independent of actual programming languages anduser interfaces. This means that knowledge ofprogramming languageand/or user interface software are not necessary in doing OOA. Thismeans that clients need not have programming knowledge to collaboratewith programmers in evaluating programs or solutions developed toaddress arising problems. As such, the OOA should be thought of asan idealized and general object model, which is not corrupted byimplementation issues.

Conclusionsand Recommendations

From the discussion above, it is clear that integration ofinformation technology is a not a complex process as it may appearfrom the programming perspective. Problems that arise in managingprojects and addressing arising problems can be addressed by simplyemploying various analysis tools to simply the problem. Decisionmaking and individual activities are well represented in these tools.The tools specifically make room for illustration of and enhancedunderstanding of problematic situations. The same approach is appliedin designing new approaches to the arising problems by examining newhypotheses and knowledge. Knowledge is also integral identifying theactual situations of problems and necessary in identifying indicatorsand signpost of problems. Thus it emerges that knowledge is anintegral part or decision making and project management. Evaluationon a regular basis provides a broad and detailed picture of aproject. As such it is recommended that institution shouldstrategically manage knowledge as part of project management.Knowledge sharing and management is also highly influenced bycultures in teams and organizations. Project manager should alsotherefore embrace management approaches in guiding project teamsthrough problem phases.


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