(Mt) – Hubble Project Case Study

SOLUTION AT Academic Writers Bay

For the exclusive use of J. Williams, 2020. HEC00 Volume 7 Issue 2 May 2009 Reinventing the Practices of Distance Information Systems Development: CGI and the Hubble Project – Part B Case 1, 2 prepared by Professors Carmen BERNIER, 3 Line DUBÉ 4 and Vital ROY 5 The Context In the first part of the case, we left the CGI Quebec group just as its members were breaking for lunch. At 1:30 p.m., the team members are once again assembled in the conference room and the meeting resumes. The Development Approach Alain informs the group that the client is very interested in, and open to, the use of an agile development approach. Since Financials has no knowledge of the technology being used, no solid development methodology, no major project management experience, and since it has been fumbling about for some time trying to define the exact needs of the Hubble project, it is very enthusiastic about a partnership involving a transfer of knowledge that would allow it to react to CGI’s work as the project progresses. The managers at Financials like the idea of a development approach characterized by very short cycles for the definition of needs, development, and test validation. This, according to Alain, is one of the reasons why CGI obtained the mandate. The agile approach is a first for Financials. It allows Financials to experiment, to see, touch and maintain control of the work in progress, as well as of its signature application. This is the moment that Alain chooses to introduce Albert, who has now joined the group. Albert has used an agile methodology as a development approach on previous mandates. He is also a 1 The excellence of this case and its teaching notes earned its authors the 2009 Award for Best Case Published in the International Journal of Case Studies in Management. 2 Translation from the French of “Réinventer les pratiques de développement de systèmes d’information à distance : CGI et le projet Hubble – Partie B,” case deposited under #9 65 2009 002B. 3 Carmen Bernier is an Associate Professor and Director of the Department of Information Technologies at HEC Montréal. 4 Line Dubé is a Full Professor in the Department of Information Technologies at HEC Montréal. 5 Vital Roy is an Associate Professor in the Department of Information Technologies at HEC Montréal. He is also Director of the HEC Montréal Case Centre. © HEC Montréal 2009 All rights reserved for all countries. Any translation or alteration in any form whatsoever is prohibited. The International Journal of Case Studies in Management is published on-line (www.hec.ca/revuedecas/en), ISSN 1911-2599. This case is intended to be used as the framework for an educational discussion and does not imply any judgement on the administrative situation presented. Deposited under number 9 65 2009 002BT with the HEC Montréal Case Centre, 3000, chemin de la Côte-Sainte-Catherine, Montréal (Québec) H3T 2A7 Canada. This document is authorized for use only by James Williams in CIS600 Spring 2020 taught by Tim Rodgers, University of Colorado – Boulder from Jan 2020 to Jun 2020. For the exclusive use of J. Williams, 2020. Reinventing the Practices of Distance Information Systems Development: CGI and the Hubble Project – Part B prospective project manager for the Hubble project. He was not present for this morning’s discussion and seems particularly anxious to take the floor. This is his view of the situation: The problem with agile methodologies is that they are relatively easy to put into place for a 200 persondays project. With a 3,000 person-days project like Hubble, this becomes more difficult, almost impossible. CGI has champions of the agile approach but, to my knowledge, few projects have surpassed the 500 person-days mark. Remember, with this approach, the programming team works full-time with the users and, together, they prioritize which needs to address. Are we certain that Financials understands this important aspect of the approach? How do we reconcile our approach with a “factory development” software vision? How do we go about adopting agile practices when we are located at the other end of the continent? Furthermore, Alain tells me that a firm price offer was agreed upon in the initial agreement with Financials. We already know that the agile approach is poorly adapted for this type of contract; you don’t use an agile approach with an iron-clad contract! As for Julie and Jean-Philippe, they have just returned from a seminar on the agile approach. They cannot see how the Hubble project could be carried out using a traditional development approach. Furthermore, Alain, who, like Julie and Jean-Philippe, knows the client’s context well, hears Albert’s objections, but remains convinced that the traditional approach will not satisfy the client and will not allow CGI to deliver a quality application that is on time and meets with the client’s satisfaction. Having anticipated certain difficulties in their choice of approach, it is with some relief that Alain welcomes two colleagues from CGI Montreal and CGI Halifax who have accepted to join in the discussion by telephone. After an hour of discussion and a detailed analysis of the context, of the Hubble project’s characteristics and of the pros and cons of the different methodological approaches, a promising course of action seems to emerge – a mixed approach that Julie sums up thus: We set up a two-month cycle, but deliver software each month anyway, as the cycles overlap. Actually, we operate on monthly cycles: during the first month, we receive documents from L.A., we make an analysis, we rewrite it in greater detail, we confirm it, we negotiate priorities with the client, and in the second month we code everything. As of the second month, an actual application is delivered each month based on the analysis completed and approved in the preceding month. The approach is inspired by the agile philosophy without being purely agile. Therefore, what is produced is a quality computer application developed according to a philosophy that is more agile than a traditional approach in that a functional application is delivered and tested every month. Requests for change can be incorporated into the following month’s delivery, based on the client’s wishes and priorities. With each instalment, we are constantly trying to adapt to the client’s situation, according to its choices and our ability to deliver a quality product within a month. The whole team is astounded by Julie’s synopsis, but Jean-Philippe raises a pertinent question: “How do we control what we are commissioned to deliver within a given month? Won’t the client have unreasonable demands that a single team won’t be able to meet in a month’s time?” For a moment, you could have heard a pin drop. Managing expectations and knowing exactly what must be delivered each month, in a context where needs are ill-defined from the start, is always tricky. After an hour of discussion and suggestions from all the team members, a consensus is reached: the notion of a firm rate has to be relaxed in order to better reflect the reality of an agile approach. Thus, it is decided that the contract’s fixed amount represents a total number of development units (called “gummies” in the framework of the agile approach), to be delivered by the Quebec team over the project’s 12-month period. Each month, the development team commits to delivering the equivalent of 30 gummies. Consequently, each month, during the definition of needs stage, the CGI © HEC Montréal 2 This document is authorized for use only by James Williams in CIS600 Spring 2020 taught by Tim Rodgers, University of Colorado – Boulder from Jan 2020 to Jun 2020. For the exclusive use of J. Williams, 2020. Reinventing the Practices of Distance Information Systems Development: CGI and the Hubble Project – Part B team must estimate the execution effort for identified needs and whether this effort exceeds the delivery capacity for the realization of needs effort “purchased” by the client for the month, for example 30 gummies. The client must thus prioritize its needs and decide which ones to put off until the following month. Everyone is excited by this method of managing client needs. However, Julie, who is a bit uneasy at the idea of developing a project from a distance, points out that: We’re making good progress. We’ve defined the approach that will be used and how to identify what we will have each month in terms of workload… but we haven’t looked at how we’re going to work on a daily basis with the people in Los Angeles. Generally, according to normal practices, travel and hotel expenses for the duration of the project are pre-approved by the client, who reimburses them upon presentation of receipts. Are we going to spend months at a time in L.A.? And is Financials ready to pay for that? Hey, everybody, who wants to spend a year in L.A.? She adds this last part jokingly, knowing full well that no one will be keen on relocating to Los Angeles for such a long period. Alain quickly puts an end to this line of discussion: “No, no, and no! Nobody’s going to be exiled to L.A. for the duration of the project. We don’t have a budget for that. We have to optimize our travel, otherwise we’ll waste hours waiting around in airports, which is not very efficient. We have to find another way to make the agile approach work even if we aren’t always working face-to-face.” At this point, Albert reminds the group that one of the basic principles of the agile approach is that work between users and the development team be continued and carried out face-to-face. “We aren’t agile when we’re 5,000 km apart! Now that’s an oxymoron!” he points out. Alain implores his team to think outside the box and to find a solution. He reminds them that CGI has excellent videoconferencing facilities and that they must learn to use them to their advantage. “It’s just a question of getting used to it,” Serge assures them. Jean-Philippe suggests that the analysts plan periodic visits from L.A. Alain believes that it is rather up to CGI to make periodic visits, as L.A. is the client: Don’t forget that because of our third-party contract, we have a contact person from CGI Calgary who is always on site at Financials. I know him well, he’s reliable. He will be our eyes and ears on site when none of us are there. He will certainly be very useful for getting an objective heads-up on the morale of the troops in L.A., the subtleties of which are difficult to detect by telephone or e-mail… After a period of brainstorming, a consensus is reached: having received a preliminary document from the business analysts (use cases), members of the Quebec team will travel to L.A. to clarify, draft, validate and obtain approval for the functionalities to be developed in the upcoming month and subsequently delivered at the month’s end. Alain announces: It is essential that Jean-Philippe and Julie be members of the team; you know the people there. Furthermore, you’ll have to be skilled negotiators. Imagine: it’s a bit like having the client sign a functional analysis each and every month. Sometimes, tough decisions will have to be made; we will have to guide them through the myriad of choices, and, specifically, on the consequences of their choices. We will have to explain the elements that must be included in a given month in accordance with the functionalities from which they may freely choose. Jean-Philippe, you will have to be there to support the technical aspects of these discussions. You will guarantee the presence of the team leader and I could be there too if you think that there are any particularly sensitive elements that need to be addressed. © HEC Montréal 3 This document is authorized for use only by James Williams in CIS600 Spring 2020 taught by Tim Rodgers, University of Colorado – Boulder from Jan 2020 to Jun 2020. For the exclusive use of J. Williams, 2020. Reinventing the Practices of Distance Information Systems Development: CGI and the Hubble Project – Part B Jean-Philippe adds that this will not be simple: “During our last mandate, Julie and I had to travel to L.A. several times in the same month. The first time, the customs officials allowed us to cross. The second time they began asking pointed questions. The third time, they very nearly sent us home. They’re so afraid that we’re going to steal their jobs!” “That’s a good point,” adds Alain. “We should contact our travel manager right away so that he can make all the necessary arrangements for travel permits for each member of the team who may eventually have to travel to L.A. on a regular basis. We can’t afford to waste time.” Julie has this to add: I agree wholeheartedly, but there is another thing that I would like to do to start the project off on the right foot. It may seem silly, but when Jean-Philippe and I began working with Financials, we always had trouble determining who was there and when. I’d like to create a type of timetable of the holidays and vacations of each team member, not only here, but for the people in Los Angeles too. This calendar will help us to better plan our communications and visits. We must also get into the habit of taking the three-hour time difference into account! It will be difficult to remember in the beginning, but eventually it will sink in! The discussions progress and a broad outline of the service offer as well as of the management methods for the Hubble project is drawn up. The Project Team Although not unanimously supported, the chosen methodology seems reasonable. Julie and JeanPhilippe, having worked closely with Financials over the past months, enthusiastically agree to be the permanent hub of the project’s CGI Quebec team. As for Albert, it seems clear that, despite a number of successful projects for the Government of Quebec, he is not the best choice to lead the Hubble project. So Alain asks Serge, who has a wealth of experience with distance projects in India and Europe, among others, to head the project. He doesn’t want a mere bureaucrat and believes that, given the project’s particular context and risks, a positive project head is needed – someone who is open and pro-active, who will not be content to simply retool project plans from his office, but rather who will be a facilitator for the entire project team and for relations with the Los Angeles team. Serge’s past experience with distance projects makes him particularly sensitive to the necessity of staying in touch with the client, of creating ties despite the distance, and of being an ambassador for the efforts and work of the Quebec team despite the impossibility for the client of meeting with the Quebec team on a daily basis. Yes, thinks Alain, Serge is the perfect candidate. Although he understands that he will have to travel even more than he already does, Serge accepts with enthusiasm. Thus it is decided that the CGI team for the Hubble project will consist of Serge as team leader, Julie as functional architect, Jean-Philippe as technology architect, three systems analysts, five .NET developers, one infrastructure expert, and a PCO (project control officer). The remaining team members must now be chosen. The following questions are asked: What impact will the choices of the adapted agile approach and the delocalization of the project have on the project team? What specific skills are required? The first word that comes to Julie’s mind is “productive.” “For the project to be successful, we need a productive team!” she exclaims. Everyone at the table turns to stare at Julie, who blushes profusely: is she simply stating the obvious? © HEC Montréal 4 This document is authorized for use only by James Williams in CIS600 Spring 2020 taught by Tim Rodgers, University of Colorado – Boulder from Jan 2020 to Jun 2020. For the exclusive use of J. Williams, 2020. Reinventing the Practices of Distance Information Systems Development: CGI and the Hubble Project – Part B For Serge, the project leader, the team’s operations will have to be adapted to the client’s context and the project. Certainly, the key players – the architects and probably the systems analysts – will work regularly with the client’s business analysts for periods varying between two and five days. They must be proficient in English, resourceful and adaptable. From a technological standpoint, Jean-Philippe does not believe that the success of this project necessarily depends first and foremost on experience. Rather he believes it is important to integrate young and inexperienced programmers in this project who have never worked with .NET, but who want to learn and who have the following mentality: “I will do a bit more… I know that I have to because I’m still learning.” According to Jean-Philippe, The people who will want to do a bit more, who will be motivated and who won’t ask the same question 25 times, are the type of resource that we need on our programming team. You will tell them something and they will do it, and it will be done right the first time. They will be driven and have the same project vision. In this project, everything is happening quickly and nobody has time to waste correcting the sloppy work of a colleague. “Under these conditions, we can even go so far as to say that if we assign several junior resources to this project, we must ensure that we have a senior support team with supervisory experience,” adds Serge. With this in mind, people are chosen to make up the team. Alain announces that the preparatory meeting for the proposal of a service offer has come to an end. Serge, the official project leader, begins to draw up the document. Internal Approval of the Service Offer Two days have passed since the meeting of the Hubble project’s core team. After this intensive work session, the project leader, Serge, was responsible for preparing an official version of the service offer that will specify the project’s stages, the calendar of activities and the project’s risks. He then validates this offer with Alain, who is more than satisfied. Before submitting it to the client, Alain and Serge must first present it to the project office at CGI to ensure that the project’s risk level is deemed reasonable, manageable and acceptable by CGI. The financial aspects of the project will also be scrutinized. Serge and Alain are happy to attend the meeting of the project review board. They are especially proud of this breakthrough with an American client with whom CGI has been attempting for many years to evolve its third-party business practices into a partnership for the development and management of its IT. The head of the project bureau, Bertrand, is well known for his vast experience in consulting and in the management of major IT projects. He is a PMP (Project Management Professional) who is very active in the development of project management practices at CGI. He asks Serge to lay out the main points of the Hubble project that could have an impact on its progress and management, its general risk level and financial aspects. Bertrand then asks Alain and Serge: “Are you sure that you can manage this project under these conditions?” They answer with a resounding yes. “You are aware that everything is new in this project, from the project’s size to its management terms?” Alain and Serge assert that CGI Quebec is quite capable of executing this project successfully. © HEC Montréal 5 This document is authorized for use only by James Williams in CIS600 Spring 2020 taught by Tim Rodgers, University of Colorado – Boulder from Jan 2020 to Jun 2020. For the exclusive use of J. Williams, 2020. Reinventing the Practices of Distance Information Systems Development: CGI and the Hubble Project – Part B Bertrand thanks them for their presentation and asks for 24 hours to familiarize himself with the details of the project. “Once the service offer is presented to the client, it will be too late to turn back,” he stresses. Alain and Serge leave Bertrand, assuring him that the Hubble project will be a success and that they are available for any additional information he may need. Bertrand is both intrigued and worried by this project. Albert, who had participated in the development plan for the Hubble project, had come to him the previous evening to let him know that the conditions for executing it were more than unrealistic and that he was convinced that it would fail. What risks does CGI run with this project and what measures are in place to counter them? Is the team realistic in terms of the project’s challenges and risks? He feels that something is missing… He decides to further analyze the project’s risks. Now it’s your turn… Help Bertrand defend his position by replying more specifically to the following questions: 1. What methods is the CGI team proposing to lessen the project’s risks? 2. Is the agile approach best suited for this type of project? Would a traditional approach be more appropriate? 3. Does the modified agile approach proposed allow for potential risks? What risks remain? 4. What are the desired skills/qualities of the project leader and the team members affected by the implementation of this approach? 2010-07-06 © HEC Montréal 6 This document is authorized for use only by James Williams in CIS600 Spring 2020 taught by Tim Rodgers, University of Colorado – Boulder from Jan 2020 to Jun 2020.



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