Group Project #2 – Short Consulting Case Problem
Group Project #2 – Short Consulting Case Problem
Several weeks ago, your consulting firm was hired to design, program, and implement a sales forecasting
program module for a regional product manufacturer and distributor. The forecasting program that your
company will implement, will have three basic sub‐modules:
1) Historical Data Analysis,
2) Forecast Simulation, and
3) Forecast Execution and integration with the existing Sales & Operations Planning module.
After discussions with your client, your project manager (your boss) has agreed upon the next several
tasks that will be jointly completed (by your team and your client’s information technology team) prior
to contract signing and schedule finalization. Currently, your group is working on tasks D and E
immediately below, prior to a final contract proposal, final signatures, and a project kick‐off event which
is scheduled to occur on Monday Jan 11th, 2021.
Table 1: Initial Project (nearly completed…) Predecessor
A Finalize the overall scope of the program ‐
B Breakdown the project into high‐level deliverable
C Break‐down tasks into assignable and budget‐able
“work packages” (programming modules) to be
D Finalize the project plan and timeline C Fri Dec
E Finalize the estimated project cost C Fri Dec
ZZ Project finalization, contract signatures, and
project kick‐off. Link to the proposed project.
D, E Mon Jan
Currently, your client uses a 3rd‐ party data analytics firm (AWESUM, Inc.) to process historical data and
provide your client with monthly forecasts for the most crucial products. That contract expires 40 weeks
from Jan 11th, 2021, on Monday October 18th, 2020. (e.g. if “time 0” starts on Mon Jan 11th, then 40
weeks of work later = a deadline of “week 40”, which is Monday Oct 18th ). The contract extension has
been difficult to renegotiate, and currently your client is not discussing the extension option with
AWESUM Inc. At the current time, the contract would be expensive to extend beyond week #40, on
October 18th, 2021.
Your boss is concerned about the current employment environment, and worries about turnover of key
personnel at both your consulting firm, and at the client. Employees have been finding other
opportunities to work remotely across the U.S., and thus some of your clients have had their projects
delayed while additional personnel have been hired and on‐boarded. Some projects have been delayed
by as much as 20% on crucial critical‐path tasks.
You have been working closely with the information technology staff at your client’s organization to
accomplish the following: a) develop a basic project timeline for the next stage of the project, b)
determine a project plan and timeline, and c) an estimate of some basic project costs. Your team has
finished collecting some basic data (shown below in several tables), and you are preparing to analyze
the project and provide recommendations to your boss and to your client. Your boss has asked you to
submit an internal report to her, to answer the following questions, prior to the development of a final
contract proposal to your client. Generally, the internal report to your boss should address the following
1) Using the CPM approach, what is the estimated current cost for the project, initially assuming the
“most likely” (m) time estimates for each task, and no crashing of tasks, yet. Submit completed cost
data based on the provided estimates and additional calculated costs. (additional information about
direct and indirect costs, as well as potential penalty costs, are included and described below).
2) The programmer (Steve) who is scheduled to work specifically on Task G (programming the user
interface) is currently working on a different project for a different client; your boss is concerned
about wrapping‐up Steve’s other assignment before Steve will be required on this new project task.
a. Using the CPM approach and the “most likely” task times, what is the Latest Start Time for
Task G, such that it can be completed without delaying the critical path of the entire
project? What is the LST both in “project week number”, and as a calendar date? Note again
that the current project kick‐off is scheduled for Monday Jan 11th, 2021.
b. Present the project precedent diagram with all earliest start times, latest start times, earliest
finish times, and latest finish times for each task. Likely this is a multi‐page appendix to your
primary report. (again, this should be based on the “m” most likely times for each task)
c. Identify the Critical Path of the project. What is the current planned project duration,
without crashing any tasks?
3) From your previous work experiences and reference manuals, review the basic methodology
associated with the PERT project management approach (using calculated values of task variance
and task expected time for each task).
a. Find the te (expected task times) and the task variances (σ2
) for each of project tasks.
b. What is the critical path of the project, based on the new te values?
c. What is the sum of the variance values for the tasks on the critical path?
d. Without crashing tasks, what is the likelihood of completing the project on or before week
39 of the project?
e. Without crashing tasks, what is the likelihood of completing the testing (Task “O”, an
important milestone in the project) before the end of week 36 of the project?
4) Use the CPM data (based on the “m” values) to determine a minimum cost schedule and minimum
cost for the project. After determining a “minimum cost schedule” of the project:
a. What is the estimated minimum cost of the project, from the “minimum cost schedule”
approach? Use the CPM method with the cost data provided (indirect costs, penalty costs,
and direct normal costs), as well as information about your ability to crash some specific
tasks. Again, from the CPM approach, use the “most likely” (m) task time as the baseline
“normal time” for each task.
b. From the minimum cost schedule, what is the expected project cost of this schedule, as well
as the expected project completion date (both in project weeks, and as a calendar date)?
5) Again, using the “most likely” (m) task times and logically crashing tasks on the critical path,
a. What is the shortest possible project duration (crashing the critical path to the largest
extent possible), regardless of total cost (both in project weeks, and in calendar date)?
b. What is the total cost of the project required to execute that project schedule? (knowing
that this is more expensive than the minimum cost schedule).
6) Summarize the qualitative risks to the project.
a. What are the general risks to your client right now, based on the information that has been
provided in this scenario that has been presented to you from your boss?
b. What are the general risks of on‐time project completion considering the current
employment and work environment in the U.S.? Several members of your programming
team live and work in different states throughout the U.S., and are subject to the laws of
those states. Additionally, some of the programming tasks could be modified and possibly
sub‐contracted to India, Bulgaria, China, Argentina, and Indonesia.
i. Discuss how the project manager should address cost/time trade‐offs associated
with international outsourced completion of programming tasks. What criteria
should be used to determine if a task should be outsourced internationally, or not?
Which tasks for this project might be considered for outsourcing to an international
programmer or programming team, and why?
ii. Scan the US labor and work environment. Based on changes to hourly wage rates
during the past 5 years, will there be noticeable advantages or disadvantages to
hiring programmers in any specific US state, based on any substantial changes in
employment law across the US? List any key changes that have or might occur, and
how they could impact this project.
Indirect Costs: Your consulting firm charges its clients indirect costs for systems development projects at
$5000 per week for a PMP‐certified project manager, plus $800 per week for a part‐time project
accountant (8 hrs per week). Additional weekly overhead is billed as actual expenses, but it is estimated
to be $500 per week. [In total, estimate $6300 per week for all indirect costs]
Direct Costs: Programmers and systems integrators are billed at $3000 per week per person; they will
perform a majority of the direct work tasks on the project. Where task times were estimated, data has
been directly provided in Table 2, and have been mutually agreed‐upon with the client, in advance.
Additional analysis will be required to determine standard deviation and expected task times for PERT
analysis. Cost estimates and possible crashed time and cost estimates also are shown in Table 3. If no
data is provided, then the task cannot be crashed. Assume that all task‐crashing would be linear (as a
cost to crash per week), and could be implemented week‐by‐week, but only when it is beneficial to
reduce the total cost of the project.
Penalty Costs: If the project cannot be completed by the end of 39 weeks, then the consulting firm will
be penalized $3500 per week.
Two diagrams are shown in Appendix A and B, to visually express some of the key issues in the project
plan and key programming, integration, and testing steps for the project. Your boss expects you to
present the main findings (results of key questions) to your boss as an MS‐Word document (internal
executive report, with appropriate appendices). Present your team’s calculations (show all of your work)
as an appendix to your report (or as a separate document) as an MS‐Word Document or appendix in the
report. Calculations made in MS‐Excel or MS‐Project should be cut‐and‐pasted into the report outline or
appendix, into MS‐Word. Neatness, and organization of data, etc… all matter, always. Your boss has
scheduled your team’s annual evaluation for December 19th, and this report will be fresh in the minds of
Construct your internal report as though it would be used for internal consideration and a conversation
between your boss and your client (something that your client will see, read, and evaluate). Your boss
might need to generate a short presentation and an executive briefing to the client, based on this
report. So obviously… grammar, punctuation, layout, readability, and solid business communication
skills matter with this report to your boss. [As a class assignment, your group will receive a separate
evaluation of the written report, based on a modified FHSU written communication rubric. See Appendix
Table 2: Planned project for programming
and implementing the new Forecasting
module for your client
ZZ Project kick‐off, “time zero” Jan
0 0 0 0 0
A Determine database tables required, record
sizes, data definitions, and definitions of
ZZ 2 2 2
B Finalize definition of the three individual
modules that will be required, the basic
integration required between the three new
A 2 3 4
modules, and the definition of the new user
interface for the system
C Determine security and authorization levels
for various types of users and their access to
each of the three new program modules.
A 1 2 3
D Determine integration requirements between
the Historical Data Analysis Module and the
existing Sales History database.
B, C 2 2 3
E Determine integration requirements between
the planned Forecast Execution module and
the existing Sales & Operations Plan module.
B, C 2 3 4
F Create three duplicate information systems
database operations environments: 1)
“Programming Environment” , 2) “Test
Environment”, and 3) “New Live
Environment”. These are all independent of
the existing “Live (operating) Environment“
that is in‐use. (See Appendix B)
B, C 2 2 2
G Program the User Interface for the new Sales
Forecasting System (in the “Programming
F 12 15 18
H Program the Historical Data Analysis Module
(in the “Programming Environment”)
D, F 12 16 19
I Program the Forecast Simulation Module (in
the “Programming Environment”)
F 14 18 21
J Program the Forecast Execution Module(in
the “Programming Environment”)
E, F 19 22 26
K In the “Programming Environment”: Final
integration programming of the new User
Interface with the three new Modules (in the
2 2 4
L In the “Programming Environment”: Final
integration programming of the new system
with the Sales History module of the existing
(old) system and the Sales & Operations Plan
module of the existing (old) system… all
K 2 2 3
M Copy the “Programming Environment” over
to the “Test Environment”, for rigorous
testing of the new software and the new
interfaces. TEST the new system in the “Test
Environment”; PLUS On‐going changes in the
“Programming Environment” as problems are
identified in the “Test Environment”
L 2 4 6
O Key Milestone ‐ Testing completed, with
analysis of testing approved by the client
(compliance with original scope and
functionality of the new system)
M 0.5 1 2
P Copy the final “Programming Environment”
over to both the “Test Environment” and the
“New Live Environment”
O 0.2 1 2
Q Develop and write initial training materials
for the new modules and new user interface
O 2 3 4
R Run the New Live Environment for two weeks
in parallel to the old Live Environment (in
case something catastrophic occurs in the
New Live Environment).
P 2 2 4
S Make and implement minor modifications,
only if necessary, if operations differences or
errors occur in the New Live Environment.
Replicate programming changes across the
Programming, Test, and New Live database
P 0.5 1 2
T After two weeks of successful parallel
operations, cease parallel operations of two
data environments; delete old Live
Environment; “GO LIVE” on the new System,
with extensive training and multi‐shift
support for the new system users.
Q, R, S 2 3 5
U Develop and write FINAL training materials
for the new modules, and new user interface
O, T 2 2 3
Tasks Table 3: Direct
Cost and Cost
the “m” –
A 2 2 $24,000
B 3 3 $27,000
C 2 2 $6,000
D 2 2 $12,000
E 3 2 $18,000 $21,000
F 2 2 $6,000
G 15 15 $45,000
H 16 15 $48,000 $55,000
I 18 15 $54,000 $87,000
J 22 15 $66,000 $118,500
K 2 2 $12,000
L 2 2 $12,000
M 4 3 $48,000 $56,000
O 1 1 $3,000
P 1 1 $6,000
1 $18,000 $35,000
Appendix A – System Integration Diagram
Existing ERP System
New Forecasting System
Appendix B – Test Plan and Operations Plan
Current “Live” system and
Database – currently in‐use by
Future “New Live” System, to
be implemented and tested in
task “P” of the project
Database of the Test
Environment for the new
system and database: where
the initial module programming
and integration programming
will be tested during task “M”
of the project
Database of the Programming
Environment – where new
module programming and
integration programming will
occur during tasks G, H, I, J, K,
and L of the project
Appendix C – Notes
As a student group project this semester, each student will receive four grade components on this
project, totaling up to about 200 points:
1) group‐based execution and score, based on the technical details of the report (0 to 100 points)
2) group‐based execution and score of the written communication dimensions of the report (0 to 50
3) individual‐based contribution to the overall group effort (0 to 40 points), based on instructor
appraisal and feedback from team members.
4) individual‐based submission: evaluation of your group’s process and efforts on the 2nd group project
(0 to 10 points). Specific instructions will follow.