Kennesaw State University
Microsoft Project Exercise
Purpose: The purpose of this exercise is to gain some experience in working with Microsoft
Project and for you to experience some of the ambiguity that exists in managing projects. You
will be asked to make some assumptions and to “fill in the blank” when certain information is
not provided. You have the freedom to make any assumptions you need. Be consistent
throughout the project recognizing that there is not one correct answer. The exercise will take
many of the project management techniques we have discussed in class and give you the
opportunity to see how project management software such as Microsoft Project can help you to
implement these techniques. You may turn in either a hardcopy or email me an electronic copy
Project Description: For this assignment, we turn to the SunBox Company. The SunBox
Company is one of about six companies in the world that manufacture specialized light boxes for
treating a condition known as SAD. SAD, which stands for Seasonal Affective Disorder, is a
type of winter depression that affects millions of people, usually between September and April.
SAD is caused by a biochemical imbalance in the brain that results when exposure to sunlight is
restricted. SAD occurs throughout the northern and southern hemispheres but is rare in those
living within 30 degrees of the equator, where daylight hours are long, constant, and extremely
bright. Light therapy has proven to be an effective treatment for SAD and the SunBox
Company, founded in 1985, was a pioneer in the commercialization of light boxes for this
purpose. Light boxes for treating SAD are designed to deliver up to 10,000 lux and are designed
to simulate the light intensity of being outdoors on a sunny day.
In January 2001, the SunBox Company initiated a project to develop a corporate intranet. The
corporate intranet was designed to pull together pieces of information that had been scattered
about in various locations, providing an information repository and an application development
platform that would allow their sales representatives, engineers, and technical support personnel
to communicate and to work together more effectively.
The Information Systems Department (ISD) was charged with the responsibility for developing
the corporate intranet, with input from various functional area within the company. In the
concept phase of the project, ISD will first evaluate current systems and then work with various
stakeholders to define the requirements for the corporate intranet. The requirements
determination process will involve conducting JAD sessions to gather user requirements. It will
be necessary to define the content of the intranet pages that will need to be developed. And, it
will also be necessary to define both the system and server requirements that will be needed in
order to host the intranet system. Detailed requirements will be needed in order to define
specific functionality that will be required. A project plan will have to be developed and a risk
analysis for the project will have to be conducted. Risk mitigation strategies will have to be
developed in response to the risks that are identified. A kick-off meeting for the project will
have to be planned to get the web development team and other important stakeholders committed
to the project and to generate some excitement.
After the kick-off meeting, the concept phase of the project will be finished and the actual web
site design can begin. The project team will need to design the user interface for the intranet. A
determination will need to made concerning the layout of the site as well as the data links
involved. A decision will then need to be made about how to implement the desired
functionality. Completion of the user interface design will represent a significant milestone in
the project. In addition to designing the interface, the project team will need to design the server
setup and develop the server support infrastructure. Setting up the server will require estimates
to be made for disk space utilization and the volume of traffic that the server will need to handle.
Access permissions will also need to be worked out and the server will of course have to be
tested before it can be put into production. When the server site is put into production, this will
be another project milestone. Developing the right server support infrastructure will require an
analysis of the network impact and a determination of what changes need to be made. Support
staff will of course need to be trained before support requirements can be met.
Once the web site design is completed and the server is up and running, web site development
can begin. Pages and links will need to be developed. To do this, an html style template will
have to be created to insure consistency and web page development tools will have to be
evaluated. Once a development tool is chosen, the actual development work can proceed. Any
custom functionality that goes beyond pages and links will need to be developed as well and
integrated into the intranet web site. Existing systems and data, both paper and computer based
will need to be migrated to the new web site and integrated into the intranet. A determination
will need to be made concerning what content to move. Some prioritization will need to take
place in order to guide the migration process. Data conversion will need to be done as content is
migrated to the new system. Testing of the conversion formats will of course be needed as well.
The new intranet will need to undergo extensive testing as well. Test plans will need to be
created. Pages will need to be tested. Links will also need to be tested. And, of course, the
entire system will need to undergo usability testing and stress testing. Completion of all testing
will mark a major milestone in the project.
Once testing is complete, the rollout can begin. This will involve moving the application(s) to
the production server, determining the rollout schedule, communicating the rollout plan to the
users, and conducting user training. When the rollout is completed, this will mark another
milestone in the project.
Support will of course need to be established for the new intranet system. This will involve
determining what support resources are needed, training support staff, and establishing
procedures that users can follow to obtain support. When the support center goes live, this will
mark another project milestone.
Assignment: Working individually, complete the following tasks.
1. Develop a work breakdown structure (WBS) based on the above project description. Your
WBS should include all of the relevant activities in the project description, but you need not
be limited to these activities—that is, you are at liberty to add additional activities and detail
beyond those mentioned in the project description. Your WBS should be sufficiently
detailed to allow you to create a network diagram consisting of between 40-50 nodes.
2. Enter the activities into Microsoft Project including milestones and summary tasks. Estimate
realistic normal activity durations for each activity and enter these into Microsoft Project.
Using the software tool of your choice, produce a table showing all the activities and their
normal duration estimates. Hand in a printout of the table with your assignment.
3. Link the activities in Microsoft Project to reflect precedence relationships. You may use
finish-to-start relationships to model the precedence relationships. Print a Gantt chart and a
network diagram (PERT view) for the project and hand these in with your assignment.
Highlight the critical path(s) on the network diagram.
4. Print the schedule table to see key dates and slack times for each task. Hand this in with your
5. Assume that the duration of the project needs to be significantly shortened. Decide how
many days you want to shorten the project and show how you might achieve this by
selectively crashing multiple activities in the project network (You should crash at least 4
activities). Clearly indicate which activities you have crashed and turn in printouts of the
network diagram or Gantt chart to show the impact on the overall duration of the project and
on the critical path(s). You do not need to conduct a full-blown time-cost trade-off analysis
in crashing the project.
6. Assume you have two junior programmer/analysts, Tom and Sue, and two senior
programmer/analysts, Mary and Bob, available to work on the project. The hourly rate for
junior programmer/analysts is $50/hour and that their hourly rate for senior
programmer/analysts is $70/hour. Tom and Sue are assigned to the project for 100% of their
time. Mary is assigned to the project for 75% of her time and Bob is assigned to the project
for 50% of his time. You may add additional people to the project as you see fit, but should
document this. Enter the information about time and hourly wages into the resource sheet in
7. Using your own judgments and assumptions, assign resources to the tasks. Print the budget
report for the project and hand this in with your assignment.
8. View the resource graphs for each person. Hand in a printout of these with your assignment.
Indicate any problems associated with the resource profile for the project. Is anyone
9. Level the resources as needed and print out a revised project schedule that reflects the
changes you made. Use the resource usage view to see each person’s work each month.
Print this out and hand it in with your assignment.
10. Print out a Gantt chart for this project using a time scale that allows the chart to fit on one
page. Hand this in with your assignment.
11. Print a “To-do List” report for each person assigned to the project. Hand these in with your
12. Based on your experience with MS Project, what is your candid assessment of its strengths
and weaknesses (think in terms of the context of developing the Gantt chart, network
diagram, finding the critical path(s), crashing the network, and resource loading and
leveling)? Would MS Project which embodies the tools and techniques of project
management that we have discussed in class be useful in managing the kinds of IT projects
you have been involved with (or see yourself becoming involved with)? Are there types of
IT projects where MS Project would be especially useful? Explain. Are there types of IT
projects where MS Project would not be particularly useful? Explain.