It seems reasonable to state that Hightower Global Solutions possesses an immense extent of resources of various characters – starting from the financial and ending with the human ones. There are many factors that reflect such a state of affairs. In particular, the company is a global player that has 350 geographically dispersed sales associates, and it is in the corporation from the Fortune 500 list. The mentioned facts allow assuming that Hightower is an international actor that operates within the global scope. Hence, it is affected by the necessity to constantly develop and seize opportunities to evolve the professional skills of its employees. Human resource capital is vital under the current conditions of severe competition, especially in terms of the world-scale business approach. The formulated statements and facts are a foundation that makes the sales training intranet project – HighLEARN – fit the organizational goals.
As mentioned above, Hightower has a great number of associates to which it provides more than 100 complex products and services, specializing in financial service technology and outsourcing solutions. This demonstrates the company’s success within the global market, which implies significant incomes and related possibilities. The firm’s Chief Executive Officer, Carol Bailey, is ready to invest $1.5 million, which shows the project’s financial feasibility, given the preliminary calculations and expectations. Then, Hightower has a greatly-arranged structure that clearly separates the responsibilities of each department, allowing them to interact and operate smoothly and coherently. These interactions exist in the form of a system with integrated and interrelated elements making the project feasible in organizational terms. Moreover, HighLEARN seems to be feasible from the technical perspective – the company’s IT Systems & Security branch is advanced and is governed by specialists from the field.
At this point, it should be noted that Hightower has been chasing the strategy of business expansion, acquiring many SMEs and enriching its product portfolio. Such an approach implies continuous advancements in the framework of knowledge and experience that the staff is to have. Conducting numerous seminars and lectures at the company’s premises is a good option, but given the actual enlarging size of Hightower, an online format is appropriate for the firm. From this angle, the project is a viable fit within the organization.
Here, it would be reasonable to turn to the identification of the concerns of the internal and external key project stakeholders. Peter McKenzie, the project’s initiator and the company’s Sales Manager, seems to be the main promoter of HighLEARN. Among the internal stakeholders, he is interested in the project’s success to the greatest extent, given that it was his personal idea, which is accompanied by the overall contribution to the organization’s development. Then, there is a concern related to Steve Quan and Shannon Valley – the project team members who are in the roles of Hightower IT Operations Specialist and Hightower IT Systems and Security, respectively. They will not be able to contribute to HighLEARN until July 2019. Then, the marketing department believes that the company should go with the Microsoft SharePoint system instead of the project. This is a concern for Carol Bailey, who is interested in the project’s success but wants to avoid any substantial discords within the firm.
Among outside stakeholders, there are primarily the company’s clients that involve banks, mutual fund complexes, and insurance companies worldwide. They are interested in the highest-quality services that Hightower can provide. In order to achieve this, as discussed above, the project is to contribute to the firm’s employee development and increase the level of proficiency. Then, the organization’s creditors can be considered external stakeholders too. The project is expensive, and given a number of initial risks; they may be concerned about the investment of $1.5 million (Appendix A).
Taking into account the analysis of key stakeholders’ concerns and positions regarding the project, it seems rational to state that HighLEARN will be implemented in favorable internal and external environments. All the crucial stakeholders are interested in the project’s success and the benefits that it can bring. However, it might be assumed that the crucial issue is the disagreement of the Sales department with such a course. This problem is to be addressed by the company’s CEO by figuring out the way in which a compromise can be reached.
Business requirements seem to be a proper aspect to explore initially within the scope of project planning. They are considered the definition of what the company wants to be capable of doing once HighLEARN is rolled out. The first key point is employee experience, and it should be noted that in the framework of the project, they are customers as well, given that they are the ones to obtain the advancement of professional skills and knowledge. It will be important to create a platform that will allow them to get involved in HighLEARN passionately and significantly. This requirement will be provided by Ricardo Contin, Director of Learning and Development, as well as by the HR department of the company.
Then, due to the fact that the employee will give a great volume of personal information to this online portal, it will be essential to ensure information security. Their personal data is to be protected solidly and reliably. Such a requirement will be provided by Shannon Valley – Hightower IT Systems and Security Specialist – and the branch of cyber security. The following requirement is the maintenance of the system, which will be ensured by the departments of systems engineering and business operations. Compliance with the goals and ideas of the project is another vital aspect. It will be provided by Monica Ianucci and Jonathan Brant – content specialists within the project team members. Finally, risk management affairs are to be leveraged by an experienced group of specialists led by Peter McKenzie, a project’s initiator (Appendix B).
It seems reasonable to say that in terms of project planning, there is the importance to solicit the requirements from the mentioned subject matter experts. In order to do this, it will be rational to establish consistent communication lines founded on mutual trust and respect for their opinion. Their feedback and ideas will be taken into account, as well as their efforts will be acknowledged. The basis for the productive work over the requirements is realistic milestones and goals. It might be assumed here that the format for capturing requirements is essential to the success of HighLEARN. The extent of advancement of this format defines the coherency and consistency of the interconnections between the company’s top management and the project team. The former approves all the crucial decisions, and the latter executes them and implements the requirements. These requirements’ traceability is to be considered and monitored, given that it is important to ensure the overall project’s conformity to the company’s goals and strategic vision.
HighLEARN is a big project that will involve many individuals and teams to meet the business requirements. Such a state of affairs implies that there will be an immense number of interrelated tasks and goals. Hence, the proper option in terms of project execution may be the provision of fixed responsibilities, plans, and management. This is a classic waterfall methodology for launching a project, which is divided into parts – fixed stages that are always present in any project (Thesing et al., 2021). Waterfall goes strictly gradually: first, analytics are collected, requirements are described, then development, testing, and launch of the project with subsequent support. The contractor immediately understands the cost of the project, the labor costs that are expected, and the timing of its implementation – all stages are prescribed, so the customer enters the project already understanding both the clear deadlines and the cost.
However, the other side of such strictly regulated stages is that if at the development or testing stage there is a need to redo something, it will be necessary to make changes to the terms of reference. This means that the team will be forced to return to the design and rewrite everything there. Of course, there is change management in Waterfall, but it is not very convenient: when you need to make changes, it is very difficult to take them into account in the project. Accordingly, they will need to be taken out in a separate project. It is better to accumulate them, discuss them, and implement them only after the completion of the current project.
It should be stressed that, indeed, there may be a necessity to change the project schedule to an exact extent upon execution results. Given that this will be a waterfall project, its agility is limited, and there might be some issues in this vein. However, such problems can be addressed by a developed and clear system of implementing changes within the project, referring to the available resources and capacities. A concise step-by-step procedure seems to fit HighLEARN’s waterfall implementation design.
Then, project execution results should be reported to the leadership on a regular basis. Given that there will be many milestones and important tasks, it will be reasonable to conduct online conferences with the key HighLEARN executives weekly. This can be accompanied by continuous texting within the team, and if any severe issue occurs, there may be the possibility of calling an extraordinary conference. For example, if Shannon Valley figures out that there is a problem within the scope of the project’s security system during the first days of the rollout, she texts Carol Bailey, who, in turn, decides whether to call an extraordinary online meeting or not. The issue can be indicated and reported to Valley promptly, given that there will be a related chat dedicated to the project’s cyber security.
Change management will consist of the following basic procedures applicable to various project changes. The first is tracking – the collection and documentation of actual data, as well as the determination in official and informal reports of the degree of compliance of actual performance with planned indicators. This includes data collection carried out according to such indicators as time, cost, quality, organization of the project, and content of work. Secondly, this is an analysis – an assessment of the current state of work and a comparison of the results achieved with the planned ones. It is necessary to determine the causes and ways of influencing deviations from the implementation of the plan. The third is an adjustment – planning and implementing actions aimed at performing work in accordance with the plan, minimizing adverse deviations, or taking advantage of the occurrence of favorable situations.
In this algorithm, all change management processes are divided into groups of similar or related processes that guide the activities of managers in managing change, knowledge, and skills during the implementation of changes. The following groups are related in that the output or result of one process becomes the input of another process. The processes of each group can run simultaneously and be applied several times.
Then, the risk management process is another vital aspect of the project. Planning and review meetings will be used as a risk management planning tool. The project team holds meetings to develop a risk management plan, which may include the project manager, individual members of the project team, and project participants, representatives of the organization responsible for risk planning and response operations. At the meetings, basic plans for conducting risk management operations are drawn up. Risk cost elements and scheduled activities are also developed and included in the project budget and schedule, respectively. It should also be noted that a risk management plan will be drawn up. This is a document developed at the beginning of a project that describes the project’s risk management structure and how it will be carried out within the project. It will be included in the project management plan.
The change management process should be documented at every stage. First, there must be a fixation on the basic state of the system. This is a description of the configuration of the current project parameters as a set of technical documentation at a given time. Secondly, it is necessary to predict changes. It is carried out at all stages of the project’s life cycle. Special attention is paid to important “milestones” of the project, in which there is a high probability of “branching” of possible project scenarios.
All requests to change the project must be registered in the changelog. Each stage of the change is carried out in accordance with the approved regulations. For example, the project management team has a designated person responsible for collecting and processing incoming problem reports and change requests. A process administrator is assigned to oversee the progress of the change. A special document regulates the conduct of negotiations and the adoption of a decision on the implementation of the change.
The first stage in wrapping up HighLEARN will be to complete and deliver the deliverables to the stakeholders. Every deliverable must be outlined. After that, there will be a double-check that the project is finished, given that simply declaring that a project is completed is insufficient. Before the team can officially finish the project and go on, everyone involved must agree on its accomplishment. Then, the company may start closing out its contracts once it has finished the HighLEARN hand-off and gotten the stakeholders’ approvals. The next step will be to release all the resources provided for the project completion in writing. Then, a post-mortem will examine the project’s accomplishments, shortcomings, and obstacles in order to find areas for future development. The last step will be the finalization of all paperwork and filing it away in the corporate archives for future reference.
At this point, it is important to justify the need for a warranty period for one year for the project. HighLEARN is a global-scale undertaking that involves hundreds of stakeholders, and its design is complex and sophisticated. There is always a possibility of some errors in terms of the functioning of complicated IT systems to which HighLEARN is referred. Still, it is expected that the project will significantly advance the professional skills of the company’s sales managers so that they can meet the requirements implied by Hightower’s enriching product portfolio. Through the practical implementation of their expertise, the project will transfer to business.
Thesing, T., Feldmann, C., & Burchardt, M. (2021). Agile versus Waterfall project management: Decision model for selecting the appropriate approach to a project. Procedia Computer Science, 181(1), 746–756.
Key Stakeholder Analysis
|Peter McKenzie||Sales, Marketing, and Budgeting||Project’s success, implementation of his vision||The project’s initiator, possibilities to direct HighLEARN||Internal Stakeholder|
|Steve Quan||Hightower IT Operations Specialist||Capability to contribute to the project as soon as possible||Crucial responsibilities in terms of the IT side of the project||Internal Stakeholder|
|Shannon Valley||Hightower IT Systems and Security Specialist||Capability to contribute to the project as soon as possible||Crucial responsibilities in terms of the IT side of the project||Internal Stakeholder|
|Carol Bailey||The company’s CEO||Project’s success, absence of discords within the firm||Decision-making at the highest level||Internal Stakeholder|
|Hightower’s sales associates||Customer base||Top quality of the firm’s services, which is related to the project’s success||Creation of demand for the company’s services||External Stakeholder|
|Hightower’s creditors||Investment affairs||The biggest possible profits||Decisions regarding financing the project||External Stakeholder|
Standard Requirements Template
|Requirement Number||Requirement Description||Priority (High, Medium, or Low)|
| ||The company’s employees who will be involved in the project as ones obtaining professional development and skill advancement should get HighLEARN’s services of the highest quality. In the long run, it is expected that their improved expertise will bring the firm great benefits in terms of sales increase.||High|
| ||Personal data of ones involved in the project is to be protected appropriately. All the information leaks in this vein should be averted.||High|
| ||The platform of HighLEARN should operate smoothly and coherently after its launch. It is a foundation for meeting the goals of the project.||High|
| ||It is important to ensure that the direction of the project aligns with its initial goals. Still, if during the process there will be some opportunities for improvement that do not change the course considerably, they can be implemented as well.||Medium|
| ||Risks are to be leveraged by the team of experts who are able to prevent and avert issues that can harm the project or its stakeholders.||High|