Development of Common Project Financial StatusDocument Transcript
Development of Common Project Financial Status
Reporting Process and Formats
EXAMPLE 5121 PROPOSAL Submitted By
Fritha Watts Ohlson
February 27, 2002
This proposal is for the development of a new common project financial status reporting process
for FWO Airline Applications (Tulsa).1 The organization has experienced recent structural and
customer contractual changes that call for at least a significant update to the current financial
status reporting process/system. There are also changes in management and customer wants and
needs in financial status reporting, which furthers the cause for an extensive evaluation and
overhaul of the process/system. This proposal first summarizes the problem, the objectives of
the project, and the specific deliverables of the project. Next the proposal describes the three
alternatives to be considered, including a discussion of the technology, successful use, feasibility,
and known preconceived biases of each. Then the proposal outlines the project approach, which
includes the method by which the alternatives will be evaluated. The project approach will
follow FWO Airline Applications’ project management methodology. Finally the proposal
includes the high level plan for the project, and a brief discussion on how Engineering and
Technology Management (ETM) courses will have an impact upon the success of the project.
2.0 Problem Statement
At FWO Airline Applications (Tulsa), recent substantial organizational and contractual changes
have rendered current various internal and customer project financial status reporting processes
incompatible, inconsistent, and uninformative. Although change to processes is required due to
contractual changes in customer billing procedures, organizational change and more demanding
customer requirements constitute the need for a full scale analysis of current practices and
development of better alternatives for a common, repeatable, and maintainable report generating
process that meets or exceeds the needs of management and the customers. This is in alignment
with organizational objectives towards achieving a higher standard of quality through utilizing
best practices that are repeatable and sustainable, which includes achievement of Level 3
standing in the Capability Maturity Model (CMM) from the Software Engineering Institute
(SEI). CMM Level 3 emphasis on consistent processes maintains an environment where the
process, instead of the individual, defines the work, which creates a foundation on which major
progress through process improvement and innovation can be achieved .
The new project financial status reporting process must support 300+ projects, worked by an
organization recently merged from two previously separate departments (Departments A and B),
for three major airline customers consisting of over 25 separate customer groups. Eight delivery
managers and over 30 project managers manage the projects. In this environment, currently
To preserve confidentiality, the real company name is not used here. Any performance data shown have been
scaled so that the relative magnitude expressed by the numbers remains intact. Some data have been omitted
completely or left vague per request of management.
there are three different processes, eight internal reporting formats, and at least 10 customer
reporting formats for conveying project financial status. The financial data essential to status is
actual billed amount, customer approved funding, and forecast. Currently only actual billed
amounts are provided at a corporate level from the FWO Airline Solutions financial department.
Reports are required at the project level as well as rolled-up delivery manager, customer, and
organization levels. Maintainer, as used in this proposal, is defined as a person responsible for
maintaining the project financial status reporting process/system, including responsibility for
rolling up reporting to the different higher levels.
3.0 Measures of the Problem
The new common project financial status reporting process and formats should demonstrate
significant improvement in the following identified areas:
• Reduction in the number of different financial status reporting processes and formats.
Currently there are three different processes, eight internal reporting formats, and at least 10
customer reporting formats for conveying project financial status. The objective is to have
one process, one internal reporting format for each level required, and as few customer
reporting formats as possible, dependent upon specific customer requirements.
• Decreased time spent on generating project financial status reports. Currently delivery
managers, project managers, and the maintainers all spend time generating project financial
status reports. Currently the maintainers spend 240 hours/month and each delivery/project
manager spends from 4-16 hours/month. Presumably, a common, centralized process should
reduce or eliminate the time spent by project and delivery managers and could reduce the
maintainers time to around 160 hours/month.
• Increased customer satisfaction with project financial status reports by meeting or exceeding
requirements. At least one major airline customer is requesting detailed phase financial
information on new development projects that is not obtainable on the current financial status
reports. All three airline customers would like to see a common format on all of their
projects' financial status reports. The current process is not meeting either of these two major
requirements, so adherence to those as well as meeting or exceeding other customer
requirements would increase the customers’ satisfaction. This is measured through customer
feedback on specific requirements, rated on a scale from 1-5, where 1 = Below Expectations,
2 = Somewhat Below Expectations, 3 = Meets Expectations, 4 = Somewhat Above
Expectations, 5 = Exceeds Expectations.
• Increased management satisfaction with internal project financial status reports by meeting or
exceeding requirements. The new organizational leader of the two merged departments is
seeking consistency in reporting format and the ability to roll-up project financial status
reports to high level by customer and delivery manager views. Currently with the eight
different formats the roll-ups are not available, so adherence to this requirement as well as
meeting or exceeding other management requirements would increase managements’
satisfaction. This is measured through management feedback on specific requirements, rated
on a scale from 1-5, where 1 = Below Expectations, 2 = Somewhat Below Expectations, 3 =
Meets Expectations, 4 = Somewhat Above Expectations, 5 = Exceeds Expectations.
4.0 Project Objectives
The objective of this project is to develop a common project financial status reporting process,
including internal and customer report formats, which:
• Is compatible with changes in contractual billing procedures;
• Provides a centralized source of information (including actual billed amount, customer
approved funding, and forecast) and common processes for all projects supporting all
• Is in alignment with organizational quality objectives for repeatable, sustainable processes
towards the goal of CMM Level 3 standing;
• And meets or exceeds management and customer requirements.
5.0 Specific Deliverables
The specific deliverables that address the problem statement and achieve the objectives stated for
developing a common project financial status reporting process and formats are:
• A centralized data repository that contains the project and financial data (actual billed
amount, customer approved funding, and forecast) required for reporting or a common
method for retrieving such data from other central sources.
• A common process for maintaining the project and financial data, including a process flow
chart and description of the process.
• A common process for retrieving the project and financial data for internal and customer
reporting purposes, including a process flow chart and description of the process.
• Common standard reporting formats that use the project and financial data to display project
financial status as required by management and customers, including process flow charts and
instructions for updating and maintaining the reporting formats.
• Training for maintainers and users of the process/system.
• Assessment of ongoing support needs for the new process/system, including skill sets and
• Assessment of improvement factors including number of different project financial status
reporting processes/formats, time spent on project financial status reporting, meeting or
exceeding customer requirements, and meeting or exceeding management requirements.
• Project documentation as required by FWO Airline Applications project management
6.0 Alternatives to be Considered
In order to develop a common project financial status reporting process and formats, meet the
objectives and ultimately provide the deliverables listed above, the following alternatives will be
6.1 Provide common process for obtaining financial data from existing sources, and standard
templates for reporting.
Description: Develop a common process for obtaining financial data from existing
sources by supplying standard instructions on downloading actual billed amounts from
the customer billing web site. Provide standard templates and instructions for obtaining
and maintaining customer approved funding and forecasts. Develop standard templates
and instructions for internal and customer reporting for delivery/project managers
supporting project-level reporting. Develop standard templates and instructions for the
maintainer(s) supporting rolling up the project-level reports to delivery manager level,
customer level, and organization level reporting.
Technology: Project actual billed amounts, customer approved funding, and forecasts are
kept in Microsoft Excel workbooks (a standard template). The actual billed data is
downloaded from the customer billing web site to an Excel format. Visual Basic (VB)
macros are used for formatting reports in Excel, as well as for rolling the data to the
different required higher-level views.
Successful Use: Microsoft Excel workbooks are in common use among the users and
maintainers of the project financial status process. However, most are not familiar with
the customer billing web site.
Feasibility: Feasibility is considered medium-high due to familiarity and industry-wide
use of Excel and available skill sets for developing Excel templates with VB macros.
Training is required for all users on the customer billing web site. Management of the
data, for rolling up to the different required higher-level views, is most likely the most
difficult hurdle; managing hundreds of Excel workbooks is challenging. One specific
threat to this working is random customizations to the Excel workbooks, which could
hinder the macros from working.
Known Preconceived Biases: Delivery/Project managers may be partial to being in
control of updating and maintaining their projects' data. Most people are also familiar
and therefore comfortable with Excel. However, the maintainers that would be
responsible for rolling up the data to the different required higher-level views are
apprehensive towards working with hundreds of Excel workbooks.
6.2 Use Department B project financial status reporting process/system as a base.
Description: Utilize current financial database, web site, and automated reports
developed for and in use at Department B prior to the current merged organization. The
database acts as a central location for all financial data, including customer approved
funding, actual billed amounts, and forecasts. Actual billed amounts are updated by
downloading invoice data from the customer billing web site, and running modules.
Customer approved funding and forecasts are updated either by delivery/project
managers via a password secured web site or by the maintainers using update queries in
the database. The database, web site, and automated reports need to be expanded and
enhanced to accommodate the larger organization, be compatible with the new
contractual billing procedures, and to meet or exceed the new management and customer
Technology: The data is structured in a Microsoft SQL (Sequel or Structured Query
Language) Server database with a Microsoft Access database interface used by the
maintainers. Updates and maintenance are currently handled via Access queries and
modules coded in VB and SQL. Reports are created using Seagate Crystal Reports
(linked to the Microsoft Access database) which are then exported to Word and posted on
a web site. The web site acts as a user interface to the financial data and provides access
to the reports. The web site is built using ASP (Active Server Pages) with VBScript and
Successful Use: This project financial status reporting system and process has been used
successfully for approximately three years in Department B. That equates to successful
use by four of eight delivery managers and 16 of 30 project managers in support of over
150 projects for two of the three major airline customers consisting of approximately 12
separate customer groups. However a long list of enhancements and improvements have
already been identified.
Feasibility: Feasibility is considered high due to factors such as partial customer and
management familiarity with the process and reports, available skill sets for expansion
and enhancements, and past successful use. However, careful consideration for the
compatibility with and needs of the projects, customers, and managers that have not been
using this process should be given.
Known Preconceived Biases: The author of this project proposal may have a
preconceived bias towards using this alternative as she led the charge of developing the
process(es)/system for Department B. Although she is most familiar with it, she is also
very aware of its shortcomings and weaknesses. Further pro bias towards this
process/system may also come from the delivery/project managers and customers that
currently use it, although they as well have had suggestions and needs for improvement.
6.3 Lobby FWO Airline Solutions financial department to expand the customer billing system
to include project financial status reporting required data and report generating capabilities.
Description: The current customer billing system provides only actual billed data on its
web site, but it provides that data for all of FWO Airline Solutions' regional organizations
(Tulsa, Dallas, Pittsburgh, Washington DC, etc.) and all of its customers. Lobby and
champion for the financial department to expand and enhance the billing system so that it
contains project customer approved funding and forecast data, as well as the ability to
pull that data in the form of reports at different level views as required by management
Technology: The customer billing system draws data from different databases into SAP,
and the invoice data is then made available via a web site. The actual languages and
database hosts are unknown at this time.
Successful Use: The customer billing web site has been used successfully for over two
years by internal and customer financial analysts. Therefore financial analysts are very
familiar with the data's structure. Management does not use and therefore is not familiar
with the customer billing web site.
Feasibility: Feasibility would be considered medium-low due to factors such as unknown
availability of resources of the right skill set and issues with delivery/project managers
having the ability to update customer approved funding and forecasts. However, the
concept of having a centralized mechanism for all regional organizations in FWO Airline
Solutions to maintain and update project financial data could be important enough to
overcome those obstacles.
Known Preconceived Biases: Delivery/project managers may be apprehensive to using
the customer billing system, as historically mainly financial analysts have used it.
7.0 Project Approach and Criteria for Evaluating Alternatives
The FWO Airline Solutions (Tulsa) organizational leader is the sponsor of this project. The
author will perform analysis, present recommendations, and manage (and perform) the
construction and implementation for the project. Other resources will include a
business/financial analyst, programmers as they are available between customer billable projects,
and delivery/project managers and customer representatives for input on their needs and wants.
The overall approach for this project will follow the FWO Airline Applications project
management methodology :
• Gather Requirements
Although the general requirements are understood and stated in the objectives and
deliverables provided in this proposal, it is necessary to document those requirements
so that they can be reviewed and understood by management. Gathering the
requirements involves interviewing the users, maintainers, and customers to
understand their needs and wants. This can include providing sample
templates/reports, and further information about possible alternatives, in order to
acquire good feedback on what would be preferred.
• Collect Data
- Determine exact technology involved (format of data, database formats,
accessibility of data, programming languages used) by interviewing those people
that maintain the data and the current processes/systems, and other experts in
those technology areas.
- Assess availability of resources having skill sets required to work with the
technology involved by querying resource management.
- Appraise the sustainability of each alternative by interviewing current
management of the existing processes/systems on the outlook of those processes/
systems, their expected longevity, and any known/foreseen future changes.
- Determine approximate length of time and amount of people hours required for
full implementation of each alternative by interviewing construction resources
and current maintainers of similar systems/processes.
- Determine approximate length of time and amount of people hours required for
maintenance of data and report generation using each alternative by interviewing
maintainers, construction resources, and users.
• Evaluate Alternatives
- Develop prototype templates to assess capabilities of reporting formats of each
alternative (Excel, Crystal Reports, etc.) and obtain feedback from management
and customers per their requirements.
- Examine feasibility of each alternative, based upon the data gathered, using the
Kepner Tregoe decision analysis method . This involves identifying specific
objectives, assigning “must” or “want” status to each objective, placing weights
on each “want” objective, and then evaluating the three alternatives against those
objectives by assigning scores.
- Perform a high-level risk assessment on each alternative to determine the extent
of possible risk that would affect the project outcome.
• Develop and Present Recommendation
- Based upon the results of the Kepner Tregoe decision analysis, the risk
assessment, and the feedback on the prototype templates, establish a
recommendation on the best alternative.
- Present alternatives and recommendation to organizational leader for decision on
which alternative to proceed. The presentation would include the results of the
Kepner Tregoe decision analysis, the risk assessment, and the prototype templates
with the feedback obtained.
• Document Scope
In order to bound the project and be clear about what the project is and is not to
accomplish, it is important to document the scope. Documenting the vision, goals
and purposes, objectives, critical success factors, business benefits, and other
necessary descriptions of the project helps to accomplish this, ensuring that there is a
clear understanding as to the intent of the project.
• Establish Project Team
Resources will need to be obtained once an alternative is chosen to go forward with
construction and implementation.
• Construct Project Plan
Once those resources are assigned, more detailed planning of the activities and tasks
to be accomplished can be done. Those activities must include construction of the
actual process/system, documentation of the process/system (including flow charts
and written instructions), testing, implementation, and training.
• Construction of the Process/System
• Development of Ongoing Maintenance and Data Updating Processes (including flow
charts and written instructions)
• Development of Report Formats (based upon internal and customer reporting needs,
including flow charts and written instructions on producing reports)
• Implementation (putting the process/system into production with maintenance plans)
• Training Users (delivery/project managers, maintainers, management)
• Educating the Customers
• Continuous Monitoring and Controlling of the Project
7.4 Close Down
• Project Close by Sign-Off from Organizational Leader
• Post-Project Review
Following implementation, and after several months of production, it will be
beneficial to evaluate the new project financial status reporting process and formats
against a set of performance criteria. The measures presented earlier in this proposal
will be used:
- Reduction in the number of different financial status reporting processes and
formats. This will be measured by assessing the number of processes and formats
- Decreased time spent on generating project financial status reports. This will be
measured via survey of the users and maintainers concerning their time spent on
reporting after implementation.
- Increased customer satisfaction with project financial status reports by meeting or
exceeding requirements. This will be measured through feedback from the
customer on each identified requirement, rated on a scale of 1-5, where 1 = Below
Expectations, 2 = Somewhat Below Expectations, 3 = Meets Expectations, 4 =
Somewhat Above Expectations, 5 = Exceeds Expectations.
- Increased management satisfaction with internal project financial status reports by
meeting or exceeding requirements. This will be measured through feedback
from management on each identified requirement, rated on a scale of 1-5, where 1
= Below Expectations, 2 = Somewhat Below Expectations, 3 = Meets
Expectations, 4 = Somewhat Above Expectations, 5 = Exceeds Expectations.
8.0 Project Plan
The project plan follows the project approach as outlined earlier in the proposal. Target dates, predecessors, successors, and initial
durations have been assigned to each step. Once the Start Up phase is complete, the project plan will be fleshed out with further
details based upon the alternative chosen and the project resources available. The current rough plan estimates that the Company
Project will last approximately five months and that the Capstone Project final report and presentation would be ready for submission
in late August. Following is a picture capture of the current Microsoft Project project plan:
9.0 Planned Use of ETM Materials
Successful execution of this project is incumbent upon the knowledge obtained through
the following ETM courses:
• Project Management
The Project Management course gave exposure to the basic principles of project
management that will be used in the execution of this project: planning, organizing,
directing, and controlling . The course also provided reading, researching, and
discussion on various project management methods, which enhanced personal
experience with the experience of other professionals. Finally, the course supplied
the opportunity to build and progress a project plan in the Microsoft Project
• Engineering Teaming
The Engineering Teaming course introduced tools and techniques for working with
and managing project teams. This project will involve the management of at least
two other resources, as well as working with management and customer expectations
and feedback. Learning the facilitating methods and developing an understanding of
how personality types and management styles impact the progression and success of a
project, and applying these concepts to project management will prove most helpful
in managing the human aspect of this project.
• Problem Solving and Decision Making
The Kepner Tregoe decision analysis method learned in the Problem Solving and
Decision Making course will be used as a major part of the evaluation of the three
alternatives presented in this proposal. The Problem Solving and Decision Making
course also emphasized the use of proven tools and methods in analysis, stemming
from the scientific method, which provides depth in the ability to apply logic in all
problem solving and decision making opportunities.
• Strategic Quality Leadership (Total Quality Management)
The Strategic Quality Leadership course provided a comprehensive background of
quality movements, concepts, methods, and successes. This allowed for a more
global understanding of the organizational objectives towards achieving a higher
standard of quality through utilizing best practices that are repeatable and sustainable.
In particular, through a term paper, the author had the opportunity to research and
learn about SEI’s CMM, which is the specific context under which FWO Airline
Solutions is working.
11 of 12
 Kepner, Charles and Tregoe, Benjamin. The New Rational Manager. Princeton, NJ:
Kepner-Tregoe, Inc., 1997.
 Kerzner, Harold. Project Management: A Systems Approach to Planning,
Scheduling, and Controlling. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1998.
 “Project Management Core Practices.” EDS internal training manual, November