FI 2301:  Project Management

Course Syllabus

Fall 2008

Instructor: Kelly Lyons

Phone: 416 946 3839

email:  kelly.lyons@utoronto.ca

Office: 45 Willcocks (south east corner with Spadina) #314

Office Hours:  by appointment via email

 

TA: Steve Szigeti

email: steve.szigeti@utoronto.ca

Office Hours: by appointment via email

 

Note: Questions should be posted to the discussion board of the Blackboard course site.  Students are encouraged to post answers to the questions of other students where appropriate.

 

Important: Questions posted to the discussion board or sent by email to the Kelly or Steve will be answered within two (2) business days.

 

This course covers an introduction to the theory and practice of project management.  Students will bring past experience in project situations together with insights from the course textbook and complimentary readings to develop new understandings and knowledge that will help prepare them to participate in, contribute to, lead, and succeed in future project opportunities.

Course Overview

Detailed Description

Learning Objectives

Teaching Strategy

Assignments

General Expectations

 

Course Overview

Project management techniques are used in every industry today ranging from planning charitable fundraisers to the development of Web2.0 or e-commerce applications.  Governments are putting an increasing focus on Project Management [1, 2].  Recent articles note the increasing importance of project management skills in IT-related careers [3].  A quick search of job openings in the American Library Association’s JobLIST shows a large number of jobs requiring project management experience and skills [4].  It is clear that knowledge of project management techniques is critical for successful future careers, in volunteer efforts, and for implementing personal or home projects.  Each of us will participate in or lead a project that is being run (or would benefit from being run) using project management techniques. 

There are no prerequisites for this course, however FI1230 is recommended.

The main textbook for the course is Project Management: The Managerial Process by Clifford F. Gray and Erik W. Larson. It is available for purchase from the University of Toronto Bookstore and available for loan at the Inforum.  Some additional readings and hand-outs will be available on the course Blackboard site.  Some students may wish to review material from the book, Project Management for Mere Mortals by Claudia M. Baca. This book is available for loan at the Inforum.  Additional readings here may also be useful. This list is also available from Blackboard course site.

Consider the Wikipedia definition of project:

“A project is a finite endeavor (having specific start and completion dates) undertaken to create a unique product or service which brings about beneficial change or added value. This finite characteristic of projects stands in sharp contrast to processes, or operations, which are permanent or semi-permanent functional work to repetitively produce the same product or service. In practice, the management of these two systems is often found to be quite different, and as such requires the development of distinct technical skills and the adoption of separate management philosophy, which is the subject of this article.” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_management

High Level Course Description (from the Faculty of Information Course Catalogue) “This course covers the strategic, organizational and operational aspects of managing projects. Students learn to manage the technical, behavioural, political and cultural aspects of temporary groups performing unique tasks. Topics covered include: defining deliverables, formulating project strategy, effective group organization and management, dynamically allocating resources, managing without authority, and resolving conflict. Traditional cost and time management techniques are covered using contemporary software packages.”

 

Detailed Course Description:

We will study the nature of projects, project management tools, techniques and organizational and interpersonal issues in project management within the context of the different project phases:  project initiation, project definition, project planning, project implementation, and project closure. The first part of the course will cover project management principles including defining projects, portfolios of projects, programs, understanding how projects link to organization goals and strategies.

During this first part of the course, students will establish learning objectives and define a project in some detail.  The process of defining their project will help situate some of the theoretical aspects and principles of project management that students will learn through readings, lectures, seminars, and from the text book.

The second part of the course focuses on the tools and techniques available to support project management. Students will work in project teams to define, scope, and produce a project plan for a project that similar to one they may face in the future as information professionals.  Students will have an opportunity to experiment with different techniques and tools and share their experiences with one another, offering critiques and comparing tools that are designed to help project managers and teams plan, implement and successfully complete projects more effectively.

The third section of the course looks at the various organizational, interpersonal and political aspects of project management such as being a leader, managing diverse or global teams, understanding cultural issues and managing diverse stakeholders.

Throughout the course, students are expected to practise project management principles in every aspect of their coursework and interactions (see “Practicing Project Management Principles”).

See the detailed course outline here.

 

Learning Objectives:

This course is intended to help prepare students for successful careers in the information professions where much of the work is organized through projects conducted by a designated project team. In order to help students function successfully in these environments, this course will provide them with the following:

·         A basic understanding of project management principles and practices

·         The ability to apply basic project management techniques and choose supporting software tools

·         An understanding of the role and importance of project management in an organization and how projects support organizational goals and strategy

·         The ability to think critically about when and under which circumstances to apply specific project management techniques

·         An understanding of the role of time, cost and quality management in successful projects

·         An understanding of and appreciation for the social dynamics of teamwork and how people work individually and in teams

·         An understanding of the management and communication techniques and skills that lead to successful project outcomes

·         An understanding of the role of communication in project management and an improvement in their ability to communicate effectively both orally and in writing

·         A better understanding of their own personal goals, motivations, and way of working individually and within teams

·         An increase in their ability to function effectively on a project team and as a project manager

 

Teaching Strategy / Pedagogy:

The class sessions will be a combination of lectures, seminars, teamwork, student-led discussions and interactive exercises. A course website will provide the course syllabus and outline and Blackboard will be used as a learning management system to support project teams (groups), sharing of information, slides, important dates, assignments, and other information about the course, as well as the facilitation of interaction among students on topics related to the course.

This is a professional masters program course and most students have some (if not, extensive) experience working on or leading projects.  As such, we will learn together, from one another, and relate the knowledge learned through the course to our past experiences and imagined future opportunities.   I will provide an outline and structure for the course, present lectures, define assignments, and assign readings, but students will largely define the scope of their project assignments and will be asked to contribute and share relevant materials and readings as well. The interaction among students and their collaborative work are essential in making the course a success. Students are expected to use the experiences and knowledge they bring into the course to help define their learning objectives, identify and define projects, contribute to the course content, and complement their own learning experience and that of their classmates.   See also my general teaching philosophy and class expectations.

Assignments:

In this course, there are three required assignments, a reading selection / discussion leading activity, and a final report. Full descriptions of each will be available on the course BlackBoard site as they are assigned:

Assignment 1

Setting Learning Objectives and Identifying an Information Project

Report due: Thurs., Sept. 18 11:59pm

15%

Assignment 2

Scoping and Planning your Project and Using Project Management Software Tools

Report due: Wed., Oct. 29 11:59pm

20%

Assignment 3

Managing Teams, Leadership, and Effective Communication within your Project

Essay due: Wed., Nov. 26 11:59pm

20%

Final Report

Reflection, Evaluation, All that you’ve Learned about Project Management

Report due: Tues., Dec. 9, 2008 11:59pm

25%

Reading Selection and Discussion Leading

Reading Selection and Guiding of Discussion

 

20%

 

Each of the course requirements will be completed using a slightly different format.

The first assignment is an individual assignment which will be submitted as a report.  Reports follow a pre-specified outline (which will be supplied as part of the assignment details). They must be well-written, concise, and communicate the necessary information effectively.  See important details about what is expected in papers and reports here.

Before the second assignment is assigned, you will be put into groups and assigned a project that you will refer to for the rest of your work in the class.  The tools, techniques, and practices discussed throughout the course and in the future assignments and final report will be studied within the context of this assigned project. You will not implement the project but will go through the process of planning, scoping, estimating, etc. the project.

The second assignment will also be as a report. In this assignment, you will conduct your research and discussion in your groups (teams) but will submit an individually written report. You should appropriately cite your group members’ contributions in your individually written work.  The required report sections will be provided in the assignment definition.  Having a group assignment with individual submissions enables to you learn from your peers and share ideas to help guide the overall perspectives and thoughts that will make up the content of the report but allows you to be assessed on your individual contribution. Assessment of your individual contribution will include how well you have been able to synthesize ideas and knowledge developed within your groups.

The third assignment is an essay paper on a topic you choose from categories covered in the last section of the course.   See important details about what is expected in your papers and reports here.

The final paper will be a report summarizing all you’ve learned about project management and a reflection on your overall learning experience.

The reading selection and discussion activity is meant to give you an opportunity to find and recommend readings relevant to the topics covered in class. You will work within your groups (teams) to select a reading for a future topic and lead the class discussion on that reading as a group. This activity is meant to be treated as a (very small-scale) project (about which we all have expertise) that your team can plan and implement together.

Groups / Teams: For some of the assignments in this course and for class and on-line discussions, you will be working in groups or teams of size 5-6. I will be selecting the teams based on what I learn about you from your course goals and learning objectives. My intention is to put together teams of people who bring diverse backgrounds and perspectives and whose learning objectives and goals complement one another’s.  It is hoped that this strategy will maximize your individual learning opportunities and will create some interesting and thought-provoking discussions and situations.

 

General Expectations:

Grading Guidelines: For all work in this course, I will be following the Faculty of Information grading system here. You will notice that a B+ or B is a good mark!

Late Assignment Policy:  It is expected that, in practising project management principles, students will manage their time sufficiently to be able to meet the posted assignment deadlines. In the event that this is not possible, you must submit request to me (via Blackboard, email, or in writing on paper) prior to the assignment due date describing your progress on the assignment, how much you have left to complete, and how much time you estimate is needed to complete the assignment.  If your request is on time (ie, before or on the due date), well-written and explains clearly the amount of extra time needed (just as would be required in a real project situation), and agreed to by the instructor, your late assignment will be marked out of full marks. If your request is late, does not include the required information or does not receive agreement from the instructor, a late penalty (up to 5%) will be assessed.

Participation and Attendance:  Classroom discussion and interaction as an important way to learn. Sharing your experiences and ideas with your classmates is central to your learning experience in this course.  As such, it is expected that you will attend and participate in every class to the extent that is possible.  There will be exercises and discussions that you will participate in during class in groups and on-line.  You will not be assessed on your participation in these group discussions and exercises but your participation in them and understanding of the issues discussed will be essential to successfully completing your final paper.  In other words, as part of the requirements for your final paper you will be asked to reflect on aspects of your in-class and on-line participation and experiences and include information you will have learned from these discussions in your paper.  

It is strongly suggested that you keep a journal that reflects what you are learning in class and in the readings. It is also a place where you can keep track of how well you are achieving your objectives, what works, what doesn’t, and other observations you make during the discussions and readings.  I will not ask to see your journal or assess it directly but you will be asked to reflect on what you learned and assess what worked and what didn’t as part of your final paper. Being able to refer to your journal will be very valuable for you in completing your final paper. 

Each class will start on time. I will be on time and expect everyone else to make their best effort to arrive on time as well.

Mid-Course Review: I will conduct a mid-term review of the course where I will ask you to assess how well you are tracking to your objectives and get your feedback on the course.  This is a way for me to learn how the class is going and where it can be improved (if so indicated) before it is over. Of course, you should be regularly assessing your progress towards your goals and making adjustments accordingly. Similarly, you are welcome to come to me anytime during the term with feedback.

Academic Integrity:  Your conduct as a University of Toronto student is covered in detail here. Acting with integrity and respect for an individual’s ideas and their rights is not only required in your academic career but will be essential to success in your future career and life interactions.  In particular, it is critical to learn how to cite others’ work properly in academic writing and publications and to give appropriate credit.

Students with Special Needs or Health Considerations:  All students are welcome in this course and I will make every effort to ensure a meaningful, respectful and positive learning experience for everyone. If there are special considerations that you require to help you successfully fulfill the requirements of the course, please feel free to see me, the Faculty of Information Student Services, and /or contact the Accessibility Student Office as soon as possible so we can ensure you are able to successfully meet the learning objectives for this course.  The Accessibility Services staff are available by appointment where they will assess specific needs, provide referrals and arrange appropriate accommodations. 

 

References

[1] Government Response to the Seventh Report of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts: Large Information Technology Projects, http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/report/gr-rg/2008/0717c-eng.asp

[2] Conference Board of Canada, Western Public Sector Project Management: Achieving Project Management Excellence, http://www.conferenceboard.ca/conf/sep08/spm-west/default.asp

[3] Keith Frampton, Closing the ICT skills gaps: The skills IT employers want, Information Age, Feb/March 2008, 1—6.

[4] ALA JobLIST, http://joblist.ala.org/