Project Management/Northstar

Case Study - NorthStar project

The opportunity edit

Most of the software process engineering tools today are proprietary and expensive, affordable only by large corporations.

The following table shows sales figures for the proprietary project management tools business. Even without considering free and pirated software usage, sales more than double over a five year period from 2001.

Year Sales in millions USD
2001 250
2002 350
2003 420
2004 390
2005 520

The growth of project management during the past decade has contributed markedly to project success rates. When 31% of the projects failed in 1994 , only 15% failed in 2002. Total cost of financial waste and budget overruns from challenged and failed projects is down. When $140 billion was wasted out of $250 billion spent in 1994 , only $55 billion out of $255 billion was wasted in 2002.[1]

For mid size organizations involved in project management, buying and maintaining the standard proprietary tools available is very expensive and there is no full fledged software engineering tool available in the open source space. . Whatever is available is confined to just scheduling, leaving out the other activities like estimation, WBS, dependency management, risk management, reviews, quality management, requirements management, design, testing wide open.

‘NorthStar’ the project management and software engineering tool, fills up this gap, and provides the users with the state of the art project management and software engineering tool , covering all facets of project management.

The Vision Provide the global software engineering community an open tool, which supports end to end software engineering project management which is easy to customize and affordable..

Scope of work - Develop a requirements capture module

  • Develop a work break down structure generation / capture module, which can be traced back to


  • Against the work breakdown structure capture planned completion date, revised completion date, actual completion date, planned effort, revised effort, actual effort, primary owner, dependent task (one only)
  • Compute earned value depending on 50-50 rule, that is when the task starts give 50% weightage and when the task ends give the balance 50% weightage
  • Compute and display critical path
  • Compute and display loading chart
  • Generate variance metrics for effort , schedule
  • Integrate with Bugzilla for defect details and generate one metrics on effort in testing Vs number of defects
  • Develop a risk management module which can capture risks, provide rating against each risk item based on the probability of occurrence and impact along with risk mitigation plan and status. Provide a facility to see the risks for a module , a project and for all my projects

The project execution strategy edit

There will be a core team defining the roadmap for the project and at any point in time, the roadmap for the next 1 year will be defined

The roadmap is broken down into schedules of 3 months each, and at any point in time, the schedules for the next 3 months will be available (wave planning/scheduling)

The project will have a project manager

The project will follow water fall model, and the duration of every waterfall cycle will be 3 months at the end of which there will be releasable code with additional functionality available for release

The core functionality will be developed by a dedicated in house team and the not so core functionality will be offered to university students to develop, with support from the core team

The project will use as many reusable code as possible

The project team edit

  • Project manager - Allan
  • Architect - Sushil
  • Quality assurance - Kent
  • Development team - Madan, Rajesh, Abu, Krishnan, Renuka, Mary ( Stationed in India) , Tony - team lead;
  • Development team - Arnold, Marina , Dave, Silvester , Jerry, Paul , Jason , Jose (Stationed at USA) , Alice - team lead;
  • Unit and component testing is done at the respective locations.
  • System testing is done in India
  • Project Sponsor - Varun;
  • Product manager - Abhishek

Technology used edit

Java, turbine, PHP, Apache, SVG, Linux

Project estimates edit

The project size is 40 KLOC (Kilo lines of code or 40,000 lines of code) and will take 1000 person days

Historical information used: Data from previous similar projects shows that a programmer can write an average of 40 LOC/day for Java, which is the main platform for Northstar.


  • enough funding will be available
  • French, German and Japanese versions will be available along with English version
  • the system will work best on Mozilla Firebird and Internet Explorer
  • will work on Linux, Windows
  • will work only on web and will not work in a client-server mode
  • all the reports will be available at the press of a button (maximum processing time will be less than 5 seconds)
  • the system will meet its performance criteria on any network with bandwidth 128 kbps and above

Flexibility matrix for the project

Schedule - least flexible
Scope - moderately flexible
Cost - most flexible

The domain NorthStar is built around the PMBOK* (project management body of knowledge by PMI* , project management institute) and comprises of the following knowledge areas and it is important for the project teams working on this project have the basic understanding of the project management body of knowledge. request you to go through the details given below, to get a broad picture of the project management body of knowledge.

Project Integration Management edit

Describes the processes required to ensure that the various elements of the project are properly coordinated.

It consists of:

  • Project Plan Development
  • Project Plan Execution
  • Integrated Change Control

The key concepts to be understood to practice project integration management are;

  • Role of a project manager as integrator,
  • Project plan development,
  • Contents of a project plan,
  • Project plan execution,
  • Integrated change control - change management systems / processes,
  • Importance of historical information / pitfalls in collecting data,
  • Corrective actions / preventive actions,
  • Project plan updates and revisions,
  • Project plan approval,
  • Project plan baselines,
  • Change control board - CCB,
  • Kick off meeting,
  • Work authorization system,
  • Change requests,
  • Configuration management,
  • Project management information system,
  • Earned value management system - Variations of earned value calculation,
  • Project planning methodology

Project Scope Management edit

Describes the processes required to ensure that the project includes all the work required and only the work required, to complete the project successfully. Comprises of:

  • Initiation,
  • Scope Planning,
  • Scope Definition,
  • Scope Verification,
  • Scope Change Control,

The key concepts to be understood to practice project scope management are:

  • Work breakdown structure,
  • Project initiation,
  • Project charter,
  • Scope definition and decomposition - characteristics of a good scope definition,
  • Scope verification,
  • Scope management plan,
  • Project selection methods and criteria,
  • Constraints,
  • Structure of a scope statement,
  • Scope management,
  • WBS dictionary,
  • Management by objectives - MBO,
  • Management by wandering around - MBWA.

Project Time Management edit

Describes the processes required to ensure timely completion of the project. It consists of:

  • Activity Definition
  • Activity Sequencing
  • Activity Duration Estimating
  • Schedule Development
  • Schedule Control

The key concepts to be understood to practice project time management are:

  • Scheduling
  • Crashing
  • Fast tracking
  • Estimation / re estimation
  • Network diagrams
  • Dependencies mandatory / discretionary / external
  • Logic diagrams and networks
  • The critical path
  • Slack / float / free slack / total slack / project slack
  • Calendar scheduling and time based networks
  • Management schedule reserve
  • PDM (precedence diagramming method) networks
  • PERT (program evaluation and review technique)
  • CPM (critical path method)
  • Scheduling with resource constraints
  • GERT (graphical evaluation and review technique)
  • Montecarlo simulation
  • BAR / GANTT charts
  • Milestone charts
  • Schedule management plan
  • Resource leveling
  • Lag
  • Flow charts
  • Heuristics
  • Variance analysis

Project Cost Management edit

Describes the processes required to ensure that the project is completed within the approved budget. Consists of:

  • Resource Planning
  • Cost Estimating
  • Cost Budgeting
  • Cost Control

The key concepts to be understood to practice project cost management are:

  • Cost estimating
  • Cost escalation
  • Cost estimation and the systems development cycle
  • Cost estimating process
  • Elements of budgets and estimates
  • Project cost accounting and management information systems
  • Budgeting using cost accounts
  • Cost summaries
  • Cost analysis with early and late start times
  • Effect of late start time on project net worth
  • Material expenditures and cash flow
  • Earned value analysis
  • Order of magnitude / budget / definitive
  • Project selection methods
  • BCR / NPV / IRR
  • Variable and fixed cost
  • Direct and indirect cost
  • Payback period
  • Opportunity cost
  • Present value
  • Sunk costs
  • Law of diminishing returns
  • Working capital
  • Straight line / accelerated
  • Life cycle costs
  • Value analysis

Project Quality Management edit

Describes the processes required to ensure that the project will satisfy the needs for which it was undertaken. It consists of:

  • Quality Planning
  • Quality Assurance
  • Quality Control

The key concepts to be understood to practice project quality management are:

  • Problem definition
  • Applying fix
  • Root cause analysis
  • Fish bone diagram / Ishikawa diagram
  • Pareto analysis
  • Quality planning
  • Quality assurance and quality control, cost of quality
  • Control chart
  • Definition of quality
  • Gold plating
  • Integrated quality management plan
  • Quality goals
  • Defect tracking systems
  • Metrics
  • Total quality management
  • Quality control tools
  • Quality audits
  • Continuous improvement
  • Marginal analysis
  • Responsibility for quality
  • Price of conformance and non conformance
  • Mean, median, mode, standard deviation
  • Six sigma
  • Variable, attribute
  • Probability
  • ISO 9000
  • CMMI
  • Malcolm Baldridge
  • Benchmarking
  • Just in time
  • Design of experiments
  • Sampling
  • Quality Gurus

Project Human Resource Management edit

Describes the processes required to make most effective use of the people involved with the project. It consists of:

  • Organizational Planning
  • Staff Acquisition
  • Team Development

The key concepts to be understood to practice project human resource management are:

  • PMCDF - project management competency definition framework
  • Role of project stakeholders
  • Servant leadership
  • Q12 practices
  • Project team structures
  • Career planning
  • Maslow's hierarchy
  • McGregor's X and Y
  • Herzberg
  • Responsibility chart
  • Team building
  • Powers of the project manager
  • Responsibilities of the project manager (human resource)
  • Enniagram types
  • Perquisites
  • Fringe benefits
  • Expectancy theory
  • Halo effect
  • War room
  • Recruitment
  • Cultural differences
  • Distributed teams
  • Virtual teams
  • Self directed teams
  • 360 degree appraisals

Project Communications Management edit

Describes the processes required to ensure timely and appropriate generation, collection, dissemination, storage and ultimate disposition of project information. It consists of:

  • Communications Planning
  • Information Distribution
  • Performance Reporting
  • Administrative Closure

The key concepts to be understood to practice effective project communications management are;

  • Team size and communication channels
  • Types of communication
  • Communications planning
  • Formal and informal communication
  • Components of effective communication
  • Communication obstacles
  • Structure of a communication plan
  • Communications management plan
  • Effective meetings
  • Active listening
  • Body language
  • Administrative closure
  • Knowledge management
  • Communication control
  • Communication in virtual teams
  • 6 thinking hats

Project Risk Management edit

Describes the processes concerned with identifying, analyzing, and responding to project risks. It consists of:

  • Risk Management Planning
  • Risk Identification
  • Qualitative Risk Analysis
  • Quantitative Risk Analysis
  • Risk Response Planning
  • Risk Monitoring and Control

The key concepts to be understood to practice project risk management are:

  • Risk identification
  • Sources of risk
  • Risk identification techniques
  • Risk checklist
  • Application of cause and effect diagram in risk analysis
  • Risk likelihood
  • Risk impact
  • Risk priority
  • Risk transference
  • Risk avoidance
  • Risk reduction
  • Contingency planning
  • Risk acceptance
  • Risk management principles
  • Risk management caveats
  • Expected value
  • Decision trees
  • Uncertainty and pay off tables
  • Simulation
  • Risk rating matrix
  • Risk management plan

Project Procurement Management edit

Describes the processes required to acquire goods and services from outside the performing organization. It consists of:

  • Procurement Planning
  • Solicitation Planning
  • Solicitation
  • Source Selection
  • Contract Administration
  • Contract Closeout

The key concepts to be understood to practice project procurement management are:

  • Forms of contracts
  • Purchase order
  • Negotiation
  • Incentives
  • Procurement management process
  • Legal terms
  • Types of contracts and their merits and demerits from the buyer's perspective
  • Essentials of a contract
  • Procurement documents
  • Non competitive procurement
  • Make or buy
  • Just in time
  • 80/20
  • ABC analysis
  • Formal acceptance
  • Bidder's conferences
  • Financial closure
  • Contract performance reporting
  • Procurement audit
  • Product verification
  • Evaluation criteria
  • Procurement management plan
  • Special provisions
  • Contract template
  • Proclivity
  • Qualified seller lists
  • Advertising
  • Centralized and decentralized contracting
  • Procurement management
  • Contract interpretation
  • Letter of intent
  • Update and archive records
  • Lessons learned
  • Contract file

References edit

  1. Chaos Chronicles, Standish Group, 2002.