The Design and Implementation of Online Tracking Project Management Solution
This project is aimed at developing a web-based system, which manages the activity of “Student Project Management system”. This system will manage the database and maintain a list of all student or groups of student that have registered as a finalist in this site, and for those students that been shortlisted who have passed the eligibility criteria as set by the lecturer/supervisor. The programming Language used is Microsoft ASP.NET. This Language was chosen because of its object oriented features and class libraries for developing online applications.
One of the recent advances in the world of information technology is the rapid development of communication which has turned the world into a global village, we can send mails electronically (e-mail), search for information (www), buy goods online (e-commerce), withdraw/ transfer money (e-banking), school online (e-learning); this has affected the society positively to a great extent, as a result, computerization of project management should not be exempted in this revolution.
Project Management (PM) is the discipline of planning, organizing, and managing resources to bring about the successful completion of a specific project goals and objectives. A project is a finite endeavor having a specific start and completion date, undertaken to create a unique product or service which brings about beneficial change or added value. This finite characteristic of a project stand in sharp contrast to processes, or operations, which are permanent or semi-permanent functional works 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 study.
The primary challenge of project management is to achieve all of the project goals and objectives while adhering to classic project constraints usually scope, quality, time and budget. The secondary and more ambitious challenge is to optimize the allocation and integration of inputs necessary to meet pre-defined objectives. A project is a carefully defined set of activities that use resources (money, people, materials, energy, space, provisions, communication, motivation, etc.) to achieve its goals and objectives.
Project management is quite often the province and responsibility of an individual project manager. This individual seldom participates directly in the activities that produce the end result, but rather strives to maintain the progress and productive mutual interaction of various parties in such a way that overall risk of failure is reduced. A project manager is often a client representative and has to determine and implement the exact needs of the client, based on knowledge of the firm they are representing. The ability to adapt to the various internal procedures of the contracting party, and to form close links with the nominated representatives, is essential in ensuring that the key issues of cost, time, quality, and above all, client satisfaction, can be realized.
Regardless of the approach employed, careful consideration needs to be given to clarify surrounding project objectives, goals, and importantly, the roles and responsibilities of all participants and stakeholders. In software development, this approach is often known as “waterfall development”, i.e., one series of tasks after another in linear sequence. In software development many organizations have adapted the Rational Unified Process (RUP) to fit this methodology, although RUP does not require or explicitly recommend this practice. Waterfall development can work for small tightly defined projects, but for larger projects of undefined or unknowable scope, it is less suited.
The Cone of Uncertainty explains some of this as the planning made on the initial phase of the project suffers from a high degree of uncertainty. This becomes specially true as software development is often the realization of a new or novel product, this method has been widely accepted as ineffective for software projects where requirements are largely unknowable up front and susceptible to change. While the names may differ from industry to industry, the actual stages typically follow common steps to problem solving “defining the problem, weighing options, choosing a path, implementation and evaluation.”
1.1 BACKGROUND OF STUDY
In many tertiary institutions in the country, students seek a project in a given field of specialty as part of the upper level of their degree programme. Usually, a project can be filled by at most one student, though in some cases a project is suitable for more than one student to work on simultaneously. To give students something of a choice, there should be as wide a range of available projects as possible, and in any case the total number of project places should not be less than the total number of students. Typically a lecturer will also offer a range of projects, but does not necessarily expect that all will be taken up.
Each student has preferences over the available projects that he/she finds acceptable, whilst a lecturer will normally have preferences over the students that he/she is willing to supervise. There may also be upper bounds on the number of students that can be assigned to a particular project, and the number of students that a given lecturer is willing to supervise. In this paper we consider the ways of allocating student project in our various institutions.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
It has become widely recognized that manual storage of student projects has inherent problems. Looking at our University, students submit hard copies of projects to their various departmental libraries. The disadvantages of this manual method are as listed below;
1.Possibility of repeating project topics without detection by a project supervisor
2.Records of project topics carried out by a student are stored in the departmental library for a long time which occupies valuable office space
3.Projects are prone to loss due to natural disasters such as fire outbreak.
4.Difficulty in searching for project topics already done
5.Projects cannot be accessed outside the University, that is, it has the problem of geographical barrier.
6.Backing up projects becomes a problem since more space will be employed.
Faced with the need to organize projects, the proposed system for management of student projects is unique and totally innovative in its integrated approach. Its functionality of making project storage easier makes it called for. The system to be developed makes use of rich internet technology to replace desktop application with web application running on a remote server. The system shares the advantage of both web application and desktop application, and removes the most disadvantages of both.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The aim of this research study is to develop a student project management system for this University to effectively manage students’ research projects.
The objectives of this research study are as listed below;
1. To design a database for the system
2. To implement the system using MySQL and PHP
3. To test the student project management system.
1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The significance of this study is to move from manual documentation of projects to computerized documentation of projects for easy retrieval, storage, accuracy and security. This research work will offer the following advantages to the various departments in the University of Port Harcourt;
1. Reduced Storage: The cost of commercial property and the need to store documentation for e.g. retrieval, regulatory compliance means that paper based project storage competes with people for space within an organisation. Scanning projects and integrating them into a project management system can greatly reduce the amount of prime storage space required by paper.
2. Flexible Indexing: Indexing paper in more than one way can be done, but it is awkward, costly and time-consuming. Images of projects stored within a project management system can be indexed in several different ways simultaneously.
3. Improved, faster and more flexible search: Project Management Systems can retrieve files by any word or phrase in the document – known as full text search – a capability that is impossible with paper.
4. Improved Security: A project management system can provide better, more flexible control over sensitive projects. Many project management system solutions allow access to projects to be controlled at the folder and/or document level for different groups and individuals. Paper projects stored in a traditional filing cabinet or filing room does not have the same level of security i.e. if you have access to the cabinet you have access to all items in it.
5. Disaster Recovery: A project management system provides an easy way to back-up projects for offsite storage and disaster recovery providing failsafe archives and an effective disaster recovery strategy. Paper is a bulky and expensive way to back-up records and is vulnerable to fire, flood, vandalism and theft.
6. No Lost Files: Lost projects can be expensive and time-consuming to replace. Within a Project Management System, imaged projects remain centrally stored when being viewed, so none are lost or misplaced. New documents are less likely to be incorrectly filed and even if incorrectly stored can be quickly and easily found and moved via the full-text searching mechanisms.
7. Digital Archiving: Keeping archival versions of projects in a project management system helps protect paper documents that still have to be retained, from over-handling.
1.5 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The scope of this project covers Students’ Research Project Management in our University. This scope will be achieved in the following areas;
1. Keeping track of research projects both approved and completed
2. Harnessing the energy of staff at a faster pace
3. Managing complex changes in an organized way
4. Retrieving data as at when required.