Assignment: Model every process (in Microsoft Visio 2010-2013) you recognize in this dialogue apart from when explicitly mentioned that you must not.
Project Africa Case:
Patrick Wiz is a university professor working in the top-ranked Mid-West-based business school (the “School”). He is in charge of leading the Project Africa effort offered by the MBA program at the School.
Patrick has felt for quite some time that there is a lack of control regarding the information related to Project Africa and that it was time to make a system to manage the whole process. To accomplish that, he is bringing three consultants from GHK Partners to examine and design this new system. This document transcribes the requirements meeting that Patrick had with the three consultants: Gloria Scarlet, Marie Olive, and Andy Navy.
Patrick: It is certainly nice to have some past students coming back to help us in this project.
Andy: We are glad to be in this assignment.
Gloria: I heard very good things regarding the PROJECT AFRICA program and I am happy to be involved.
Marie: So, how precisely does Project Africa work?
Patrick: Project Africa is one of the PROJECT AFRICA programs offered by the MBA office. In all such programs we have a group of students which we call the “Leadership Team” (LT for short) organizing the trip and the whole experience. The LT is composed by second-year students while the participants are all first-year MBA students. Such participants are divided into teams and each team is assigned to work with a small or medium business in Guatemala in a consulting engagement.
Gloria: What is your role in this process?
Patrick: Overall, I manage the effort even although the LT is responsible for the day-to-day planning and operations. I advise both the LT and the consulting teams in the best manners to pursue their objectives and assess all participants, assigning them a final grade for the course.
Andy: And what seems to be the major issue for you?
Patrick: Essentially, my main problem is that right now all the documents associated to Project Africa are spread over emails or in shared folders. I wanted to have a system which could work as a dashboard for all the information pertaining to the project.
Marie: I see. And the stakeholders are the LT, the student teams and the clients?
Patrick: Yes, those are the main stakeholders, though we should as well consider the MBA office as a secondary stakeholder.
Andy: Should all stakeholders have access to the system?
Patrick: Not really. The clients must not have any direct access, only students in the program. We as well do not need to give access to the MBA office.
Gloria: OK. So, only you and students are actually users of the system, though I imagine that you would not be modifying much of the information in the system. You would be mostly checking what others have entered.
Andy: And what type of information you would like in the system?
Patrick: First, I would like to have a task list, organized into two levels. The top level would be a task category, while the lower level would be the actual tasks related with that category.
Marie: Are such categories fixed or variable?
Patrick: Fixed. They are student selection, client selection, syllabus preparation, course logistics, and in-country logistics. All I want to know is which tasks are presently done for each of these categories and how far all along they are.
Gloria: But you would instead not have something like Microsoft Project taking care of that.
Patrick: Exactly. It would be the other document situated in another system and I want to integrate everything. Besides, this is a simple project management objective. We do not really require all the power that MS project has.
Andy: So, who would be in charge of updating this list? The LT?
Patrick: Yes. So, all through the process they would be adding categorized tasks to this list and updating it whenever something gets done or is in the process of being completed. For illustration, I would instead have a completion percentage for each task, versus a binary “yes” or “no”.
Marie: You said “throughout the process”. What precisely does it mean?
Patrick: Well, the process begins in April with the selection of the LT [Note: no need to model that] and goes till the conclusion of the trip, which takes place in March of the following year. The benefit of having a basic task list is that it could serve as a guidance for the new teams that are tasking with PROJECT AFRICA in the next years [Note: no need to model the upload of previous task lists to the new year in which Projet Africais offered].
Gloria: So, students would begin creating the list by May, June?
Patrick: There is no specific time for that, but I would like to see the list created, at least with some early tasks, throughout the early summer months.
Andy: And when would this list is updated? Weekly?
Patrick: Pretty much any time something is completed or have gone through some progress, a member of the LT would be capable to locate that item from the whole list and update it. The LT would also be regularly adding new tasks.
Marie: Sounds good. Is there any other reporting the LT must be doing?
Patrick: Good point. We as well have an agenda for our weekly meetings however presently this agenda is sent through email and hard to locate later. I would like to have this agenda captured and stored in the system every week. This way we could keep track of what has been discussed over time, without the need to scan via multiple emails.
Gloria: You got it. Any other reporting you need or should we go to the categories you describeed before and their related tasks?
Patrick: No, this is all I require in terms of the overall management. Andy: So, let’s go to the first main category, student selection.
Patrick: Sure. That begins with an application of a first-year MBA student to participate in PROJECT AFRICA Guatemala.
Marie: So, it is always restricted to the first-year MBA students.
Patrick: Actually, now that you mentioned, it is open to anyone, however usually only first-year students participate. Second-year students generally lead the next year’s trips after they have participated in the prior year.
Gloria: So, you want the system to capture the application?
Patrick: Exactly [Note: this is a simplification from the real process, as in real life a student can apply to any PROJECT AFRICA trip at the same time]. We already have a standard application in place but it is right now captured through email. I would like the system to do that.
Andy: Do you have more applicants than spots available?
Patrick: Always. So, the LT would then interview all the applicants [Note: scheduling and conducting the student interviews are not to be modeled] and I would like the system to capture the outcomes of each interview by using a standardized form. Once all interviews are done the LT should mark each applicant as either accepted or denied and send them a notification.
Marie: Can an applicant decide at this point that s/he doesn’t want to be involved?
Patrick: Yes. We give students one week to reply and if they don’t reply by that time they are dropped from the trip. Obviously they can as well reply that they are not interested anymore.
Gloria: Do you have a wait list?
Patrick: No. We accept as many students as we can and we have very few who refuse the offer. If we lose a couple we will still have sufficient students to work with the clients.
Andy: How many students do you have and how many clients?
Patrick: Anything between 20 and 30 students working with 5 or 6 clients.
Marie: Is that all in terms of managing students?
Patrick: The final part is that we run an event [Note: do not comprise the actual event in any of your models] to present the clients to students. After the event we send a notification to students asking them to point out their preference in terms of clients. Students always reply indicating which client they prefer to work for, by using a ranking where “1” is their top priority and either “5” or “6”, depending on the number of students, is the least interesting client in their opinion. I would like to capture such preferences in the system.
Gloria: No problem. At that point the clients would be established, right? So, if there is nothing else to talk regarding student selection, let’s discuss client selection.
Patrick: Sure. Actually, client selection begins before student selection starts and ends at about the same time. Most of the process is done via AMCHAM Guatemala so I would like to capture only some aspects of it.
Andy: Where would that begin?
Patrick: First, I would like to capture which clients have applied and some fundamental characteristics about each. That information would be entered by the LT based on information received from AMCHAM Guatemala [Note: communicating with AMCHAM is outside scope]. A couple of weeks later the LT schedule an interview with each client. If a client doesn’t respond after one week, we send him/her a reminder. If the client fails to answer after the reminder, s/he is dropped from the list.
Marie: Would you like to capture the results of such interviews as well?
Patrick: Exactly. The interviews are completed through Skype [Note: conducting the client interviews are not to be modeled; also there might be some time adjustments for the interview that are not modeled] however I would like to have a central repository of the assessment of each client. At the end of the interviews, I as well would like to have each client marked as “accepted”, “rejected” or “wait listed”.
Gloria: So, a client can still be dropped even after accepted.
Patrick: Yes. After the client is accepted, the LT sends a message with the “contract” between the client and PROJECT AFRICA Guatemala. This is the final opportunity for the client to withdraw. If the client doesn’t respond within one week, the LT sends a reminder, which as well states that if the client doesn’t reply within one week, s/he will be dropped. For each client that drops at that point we send an exclusion notice and get a replacement from the waiting list.
Andy: Do you always have sufficient clients in the waiting list?
Patrick: Yes, usually we have around 12 applications. We invite five or six companies with three in the waiting list, so we never risk running out of potential clients.
Patrick: After all clients we need have accepted we send a note to the rejected candidates to thank them.
Gloria: So, once you have the clients and the student’s preferences you will be able to allocate students to each team. Do you have a fixed amount of team members?
Patrick: No, though we try to make the teams as even as possible in terms of number of members. The LT deliberates [Note: outside the system] and then allocate each student to a team. The LT as well decide which LT member will be responsible for each team. That step concludes both the student and client selections.
Marie: Great. So, let’s go to syllabus preparation. Which related process must be part of the system?
Patrick: Actually, none. This is done completely outside the system and the outcomes are posted on OnCourse.
Andy: That makes our lives simpler. What about course logistics?
Patrick: There are a few features that I would like the system to control. First, I would like to have regular progress reports.
Gloria: Who would create such reports?
Patrick: The idea here is that the team would give the standardized report through email to the respective LT member that coordinates that team’s activities. What I would like to capture, every week, is that report but with some analysis added by the LT member. Therefore, the team would not send it to the system directly; it would do it via the LT member.
Marie: OK. What else would you require in terms of monitoring?
Patrick: That would be all. The only other thing I would need is the indication that the team has completed its final presentation and final report.
Andy: That would be in OnCourse, right?
Patrick: The deliverables would be but I would like the LT member responsible for the team to point out that the team has completed such tasks.
Gloria: Do they happen at the same time?
Patrick: No. generally the presentation is finished before the final report but they can be done at the same time as well.
Marie: Got it! So, students never access the system throughout the execution of the course.
Patrick: Except for the peer evaluation, they don’t.
Gloria: What do you mean by peer evaluation?
Patrick: At the end of the course, students are notified that they must submit a peer evaluation. After one week, those that do not submit their peer evaluation receive a note stating that if they do not complete their peer evaluation forms their grade will be reduced. That has the effect of always guaranteeing that all peer evaluations are posted.
Andy: Would the system be responsible for storing those peer evaluations?
Patrick: Yes. Each student must be able to enter peer evaluations for each of his/her teammates (and only those, of course). Part of these evaluations is numeric and is used to compute the final grade. Once all peer evaluations are in, I would like the system to issue me a report of such students whose main numeric component fell below a 90% threshold. Those students would be candidates to have their grade reduced.
Marie: No problem. Anything else in terms of course logistics?
Patrick: Not really. At that point most of the action is taking place in the classroom and over OnCourse. I just require some specific pieces of information to see how things are going.
Gloria: That leads us into our last component, in-country logistics.
Patrick: Great, as there is nothing there that we require to be concerned about. That part is mostly a conversation between the travel agency and the LT so I just need to know how things are progressing, which is captured in the task list.
Andy: Really great! So, if that is all we will be reviewing this conversation and bringing you some models for you to assess.
Patrick: I am looking forward to seeing those models. Thanks, folks!