Novel project management model for e-business projects
Leonid B. Preiser, Ph.D., Department of Technology and Information Systems, School of Business and Technology, National University
This research focuses on the project management methodologies applied to the e-business (EB) projects at the Department of Technology and Information Systems, National University through coordination and analysis of more than fifty capstone Master’s Research projects in EB.
The reality of the EB proliferation is posing new challenges as companies and businesses around the world are increasingly struggling to manage and track projects. A Novel Project Management Model (NPMM) factors in the unique EB project features, such as variable-term dynamics, uncertainty in trends, critical dependence on environmental interacting components, constraints on linkages, unpredictable technological advances, and relatively short life cycles of networking protocols and standards.
NPMM: Sequential Infrastructure of Interacting Layers
NPMM utilizes decomposition of the project management system into the sequential infrastructure of Interacting Layers. Similar to the Project Management Institute’s model (Project Management Institute 2000) of mapping the thirty nine project management processes into the five project management process groups of initiating, planning, executing, controlling, and closing, NPMM has been conceptualized to include twenty five Associated Analysis Areas mapped into the five Interacting Layers. Those Interacting Layers are: e-business layer, applications layer, knowledge management layer, telecommunications layer, and engineering/technology layer. Breakdown of the Associate Analysis Areas and Interacting Layers is shown in Exhibit 1.
Analysis at the upper layers would produce requirements that are passed down to lower layers, whereas solutions meeting these requirements are passed back to the upper layers. Such feedbacking would assure compliance of the EB project cycles with changing environmental factors in the marketplace.
Associated Analysis Areas: Selection Criteria
Evolution of the marketplace from the early e-commerce enterprises of the late 1990s to the recently conceptualized EB startups has led to the rapid succession from the first B2C (business-to-customer) models to an array of expanded options dealing with new models of B2B (business-to-business, such as electronic data interchange, corporate and departmental value chains), G2B (government-to-business, such as standards, regulations, legislature), G2C (government-to-customer, such as welfare and taxes), and C2C (customer-to-customer, such as online auctions or exchange of downloadable files). In light of such an expansion and diversification of the EB models, the main criteria for selection of Associate Analysis Areas applicable to the project management Systems dealing with EB projects would include sequential feedback control of Interacting Layers, imbedded interfaces from hardware to hardware, software to software, and software to hardware, and compatibility.
Impact of Environmental Interacting Components
For each Interacting Layer’s group, the respective set of Associated Analysis Areas have been structured in a way to accommodate volatility of the environmental interacting components. For example, each of the five Associated Analysis Areas for the EB Interacting Layer group—strategic business planning, identifying major business functions, justifying business processes, selecting business opportunities, and augmenting process reengineering—would be linked to the Environmental Interacting Components or external entities, such as International Standards Organization, International Telecommunications Union, American National Standards Institute, Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, telecommunications carriers, regulatory agencies, vendors, manufacturers, business customers, and legislative bodies.
For example, two interacting and tightly dependent components in a constant and ongoing state of change are the regulatory and carrier components. The regulatory component represents local, state, and federal agencies charged with regulating telecommunications, while the carrier component represents companies such as telephone and cable TV companies that sell transmission services. In general, the present status and near-term trends of any particular component are directly related to the net effect of the supply and demand forces of all other interacting components combined.
Exhibit 1. NPMM Breakdown Structure
Open Systems Interconnection Model for Telecommunications Layer
Following the commonly accepted practices in the applied data communications industry (Goldman 2001), a seven-layer open systems interconnection (OSI) model shown in the Exhibit 2 was utilized for the architecture of telecommunications Interacting Layer allowing for accurate inventory of the protocol conversions as part of the project management design process applicable to any network node in the Local and Wide Area Networks imbedded into the EB projects.
The main reason for incorporating OSI architecture is that for every potential hardware-to-hardware, software-to-software, and hardware-to-software interface, there is likely to be one or more protocols supported. Successfully determining which protocols must be supported for a variety of possible interfaces in dealing with complicated network or carrier design would ensure success of a network implementation in support of the particular EB infrastructure.
Extension of NPMM to the M-Business Projects
Implementation of emerging wireless solutions and utilization of their benefits on restructuring many traditional EB startups during the last several years has led to extension of the discussed Novel Project Management Model toward applications dealing with mobile business (m-business) projects. It is expected that by 2003, more than half of all Internet access will be wireless, and the number of people using wireless web will reach over 200 million by 2005.
As an example of such an extension, the mobile-education project addressing the issue of enhancement of educational access and academic quality in traditional university environment through implementation of emerging wireless technologies is examined. A proposed Mobile-Education Model (Preiser 2002) represents a new paradigm whereby students enrolled in the traditional classroom setting (as opposed to an online mode) would greatly benefit from an added wireless solutions infrastructure allowing them to perform many academic transactions at any time and from many places— seamlessly, interactively, and efficiently.
Similar to the commonly accepted in the industry EB models of B2B (business-to-business) and B2C (business-to-customer), the applications, challenges, and opportunities associated with widespread adoption of wireless networking solutions via the discussed Mobile-Education Model (MEM) are centered around three major MEM architectures: U2S (university-to-student), P2S (professor-to-student), and S2S (student-to-student). Accordingly, many of the Associated Analysis Areas for such project should be readjusted, since the obvious benefits for the mobile users (students) in supplementing their traditional classroom mode will be derived from the significantly enhancing access, retrieving and reporting capabilities, response time, personalized service options, ease of use, and location/time flexibility to be supported by MEM infrastructure.
Exhibit 2. Open Systems Interconnection Model for Telecommunications Layer
Furthermore, technological advances and critical regulatory decisions that have greatly increased availability of wireless communications opportunities while reducing costs would cause impact of the environmental interacting components for such project. In particular, the compounded annual growth rate for wireless data through 2003 is projected to be 35 percent, and market is expected to grow to ten times its current value reaching close to $2.5 billion in 2002. More over, by the end of 2002 virtually all wireless phones are projected to be preloaded with mini browsers and Internet enabled (Rippetoe 2002). Beyond the massive numbers of wireless users is the realization that educational marketplace would be looking to wireless technological solutions as the ways of both enhancing and supplementing the traditional classroom environment.
Development of wireless technology applications on the university campuses could be conceptualized in several ways. The first experiment of this kind has been announced last August by the Tulane University in New Orleans (Cope 2001): a new wireless local area network (LAN) will ultimately include up to 1,000 wireless access points on the campus. Such model would enhance communications capabilities of students, faculty, and university administrators because users are roaming all over the place. In addition, specially designed wireless subnets are expected to be dedicated to specific categories of traffic that only a given department or set of individuals would be allowed to access. Another concept of wireless enhancement might be leading to an added flexibility in assisting the growing number of professional adults enrolled in academic programs while working full-time. For those students, the value added by utilization of the wireless applications on the university campuses would allow them: a) an on-the-go access to the servers containing class materials and student assignments as well as access to the library databases (U2S), b) all-time communication with class professor for consultations and exchange of relevant data (P2S), and c) keeping in touch with the group of fellow students working on the same team project (S2S).
Thus, adjustments for the Associated Analysis Areas applied to the projects with mobile applications (m-business projects) could be broken into the following categories:
• Different kinds of device technologies, such as Internet-enabled desktops, personal digital assistants (PDAs), WAP phones (smart phones with wireless Web access will outnumber PDAs by 60:1 before the year 2005), and different devices supporting multiple kinds of browsers.
• Network protocols with different parameters, such as voice, data, messaging supporting traffic from real-time conversations to one-way messaging, WAP, GSM, CDMA, and TDMA.
To customize a Novel Project Management Model through adjustments affecting the Associated Analysis Areas, the following categories of design factors are suggested: design factors for hardware, for networks, and for interaction architecture.
Design Factors for Hardware
The presentation factor deals with questions such as: a) what browser capabilities does device need for both intercampus and out-of-campus communications? b) what markup language? c) how much text can device hold? d) does it support graphics and color? e) can several forms of presentation be used in concert, for example, spoken requests for data?
The information factor deals with the following kinds of questions: a) what type of information is device designed to hold? b) can new kinds of information be added? c) how does the information get added? d) is information synchronized? e) is information backed up? f) is information secured?
The computational factor is concerned with the following issues: a) can device perform calculations and logic? b) what language is used? c) how does the new functionality get added to the device? d) how much functionality can the device hold?
Exhibit 3. E-Business Infrastructure Overview
Design Factors for Networks
The coverage factor deals with questions such as: a) where does the network coverage end to support both intercampus and out-of-campus communication? b) how would roaming be provided outside those areas? c) what would be the cost? d) would the coverage be uniform across the campus and spotty outside?
The performance factor has relevance to the issues like a) how fast would information be transmitted? b) how long would it take for the request to be serviced?
Security issues are obvious since, for different MEM modes such as S2U and S2P, proprietary information would be in the air.
Design Factors for Interaction
The continuity factor refers to the occurrences when the student user or professor would need to stop the interaction to deal with something else, or when user will want to resume the interaction later. The issues of concern with regard to the duration factor: how long would interaction take overall or how much time would be allocated for expansion if necessary. Finally, the issue of multitasking capabilities might become critical since, for example, ability to concurrently download the material from the course database and participate in the discussion session with fellow team members would certainly enhance both effectiveness and efficiency of interaction.
NPMM and E-Business Infrastructure
In planning for EB enterprise and breaking down the complexity of EB nature, one can conceptualize the functionality of each EB component, assess service requirements and expectations, and design the EB system that will provide the functions required by the EB services. This leads to the concept of EB system architecture and its infrastructure. EB infrastructure usually includes the following components (Menasce 2000): business model, functional model, and EB architecture (broken down into the functional and operational subsystems). Exhibit 3 illustrates an overall EB infrastructure overview with some specifics included.
Exhibit 4. NPMM and E-Business Infrastructure
As information services based on implementation of the Internet-based solutions and strategies are becoming mature and competitive, the overall logistics of project management models catering to the e- and m-business startups require expansion of the traditional project management templates through linking the project management process groups (Project Management Institute 2000) of initiating, planning, and controlling, as shown in Exhibit 4, with NPMM’s Interacting Layers, Associated Analysis Areas, and elements of EB architecture.
Cope, James. (2001, August). Tulane University launches 1.7M wireless initiative. Computerworld 13 (8).
Goldman, James E., and T. Phillip Rawles. (2001). Applied Data Communications. A Business-Oriented Approach.John Wiley & Sons.
Menasce, Daniel A., and A. F. Virgilio Almeida. (2000). Scaling for E-Business: Technologies, Models, Performance, and Capacity Planning. Prentice Hall PTR.
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Preiser, Leonid B. (2002). Emerging M-education model utilizing wireless Internet technologies. Proceedings of the 2002 ASEE Annual Conference in Montreal, Canada.
Rippetoe, David. (2000). Mobile-Data (M-Data): Its impact on business operations, productivity and response times. White Paper. Retrieval Dynamics Corporation.
Proceedings of PMI Research Conference 2002