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									SolvPlanner: A web-based Corporate Resource Management,
               Planning, and Forecasting System


                         Master’s Project

                                  By


                        Sarang Deshpande




 A Project Report Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements
                          For the Degree of

                  Master’s in Computer Science

                                  To


                       Dr. Stewart N.T. Shen
                    Department of Computer Science
                       Old Dominion University
                           Norfolk, Virginia
                            December 2006
Table of Contents

1. Abstract ....................................................................................................................................................................3

2. Problem Definition ..................................................................................................................................................4
    2.1 Clumsy Traditional MS Office-based system ......................................................................................................4
    2.2 Lack of Performance Indicators .........................................................................................................................4

3. Proposed Solution ....................................................................................................................................................6

4. System Architecture ................................................................................................................................................8

5. System Design ........................................................................................................................................................ 11
    5.1 System Goals ..................................................................................................................................................... 11
    5.2 Design Diagram ................................................................................................................................................ 12

6. System Implementation ......................................................................................................................................... 16
    6.1 Technologies used ............................................................................................................................................. 16
    6.2 Presentation Layer ............................................................................................................................................ 16
    6.3 Business Logic Layer ........................................................................................................................................ 17
    6.4 Data Layer ........................................................................................................................................................ 18

7. Screenshots & Walkthrough ................................................................................................................................. 21

8. Conclusion and Future Work ............................................................................................................................... 66

9. References .............................................................................................................................................................. 67




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1. Abstract

       In today’s world where most of the major organizations are facing a big challenge with
retaining their employees and at the same time making tough choices between hiring employees
and contractors, consulting companies are making it big. Most of the consulting firms that staff
resources at the bigger organizations these days, fall in the smaller to mid-size category of
companies with often having a very small number of employees and revenue figures. Such
companies usually are unable to afford buying a lot of software that is needed to perform the
daily operations.


       SolvCentral.com is such a company, who is a leading provider of Business Intelligence
solutions is involved in software development with various organizations. With the strength of
40 business consultants it provides onsite or offshore services to its customer. SolvCentral.com
required a solution that can help its management to track its resources and projects.


       This project focuses on building an online, web-based system for such small consulting
companies struggling with keeping track of all the aspects of their business, namely their
resources, the projects the resources are working on, and the clients being serviced by them.
These 3 entities are the integral part of any consulting company, and it is very important for the
business to keep track of these things, and thus being able to plan accordingly, which in turn is
necessary to meet the revenue goals. In such small companies where the management team
consists of hardly three to four people doing all the work, ranging from Finances to Operations, it
is a must to have some way of automating the process of managing resources, clients, and
projects, and being able to use the data from the system to forecast revenue and make appropriate
management decisions based on facts.


       The project is built using Microsoft technologies such as ASP and Visual Basic. It uses
Oracle 9i as the underlying database. The entire application is designed based on live feedback
from managers and clients of the company.




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2. Problem Definition

2.1 Clumsy Traditional MS Office-based system

         Most of the smaller companies still carry out most of their operations with the help of
Excel spreadsheets. They heavily rely on dedicated resources to process spreadsheets sent to
them by various sources, including employees filling in their timesheets every week. They also
are required to process various periodic documents such invoices for the clients.


         Also, keeping track of the company’s resources and clients is carried out through Excel
spreadsheets and MS Word documents that are used to document all the required everyday
pieces of information. For example, any new client information is being maintained by creating
new MS Word documents with the necessary information, which may eventually be manually
entered into Excel spreadsheets for easier access and sharing.


         Working with such documents and spreadsheets and managing them manually without
making manual errors is a really daunting task. Thus it was much needed to go towards a system
that could automate the process to whatever extent possible. That would not only make the job of
most of the management folks easier, but would also result in a lot more reliable and robust data
store.



2.2 Lack of Performance Indicators

         The lack of a central storage and retrieval system where all information can be stored can
turn out to be a major bottleneck when it comes to making decisions based on facts and figures.
When basing your revenue figures on the data from past quarters and current billability, it is very
important that decision-makers in the company have access to the most up to date current data,
as well as exact figures about historical data. Key Performance Indicators, also known as KPI,
help an organization define and measure progress toward organizational goals. Primarily, they
are quantifiable measurements, agreed to beforehand, that reflect the critical success factors of an
organization.



                                                                                                  4
KPIs are usually financial and/or non-financial metrics that are used to quantify objectives to
reflect strategic performance of an organization. KPIs are used in the Business Intelligence (BI)
world to assess the present state of the business and to prescribe a future course of action based
on these facts. For a company like the one in question here, some of the major KPIs are current
billability, number of employees not working to be billed, number of active projects, etc.


Most of the small companies like the one in discussion here have no real means of achieving this
objective of enhancing their decision-making power and forecasting upcoming trends in absence
of readily available data in the form of KPIs.


The current method of achieving most of the above performance and operational goals is by
emailing reports in a predetermined format and/or telephonic conversation between the managers
to exchange information.




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3. Proposed Solution

When confronted with the above mentioned challenges, the idea of this project was to design and
develop a system that could overcome all these obstacles that lay in the path of the company.


The proposed solution to this problem was a dynamic, web-based application that would serve as
a 24x7 online data management system with an easy-to-use interface and the capability to
display KPIs that would help the management make intelligent decisions based on facts. The
system would be designed to generate reports based on the data as well, which can be emailed to
designated people for their ready reference. The system would also serve as a center for easy
storage and quick retrieval of all data pertaining to clients, billing, invoicing etc. which could
then be used to ease the tasks of people involved in these tasks of invoicing and billing.


SolvPlanner is a web-based utility that helps SolvCentral.com to store information such as
customer, projects running, timeframe of the projects, resources deployed on each project etc. of
its engagements in the database. Based on this information, various reports and Key Performance
Indicators (KPIs) are generated by the reporting module of SolvPlanner which help in analyzing
the status of projects and resources. This information helps management take decisions based on
facts.


This solution was proposed as a ground work for a base application on top of which a multitude
of other applications could be built. The application was supposed to be used by people who are
not programmers or computer experts, which made it tough to design a solution with the easiest
navigation and minimum functional complexity.


The following are some of the key features of the proposed solution:


        Log in Daily work done
        Creation of projects and tracking them online




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   Easy to use GUI which can be translated to excel Task sheets automatically and mailed to
    the respective people
   Different sections for Managers/Developers and Admin staff.
   3-tier authentication mechanism
   Project Management
   Regular task delegation/updating
   Reporting
   Status Updates




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4. System Architecture

Almost all web-based applications are multi-tier applications (sometimes referred to as n-tier
applications). Multi-tier applications divide functionality into separate tiers (i.e., logical
groupings of functionality). Although tiers can be located on the same computer, the tiers of
Web-based applications typically reside on separate computers. Figure 1 presents the basic
structure of a three-tier Web-based application developed using the Microsoft technologies,
typically ASP and IIS Web Server.




                                              Figure 1


Client Tier (User Interaction):


The client tier, or top tier, is the application's user interface, which is responsible for gathering
user input and displaying meaningful and accurate output to the user. Users interact directly with
the application through the user interface, which typically consists of a Web browser, keyboard
and/or mouse. In our application, users interact with the system with easy web-based Interface.
This interface is developed using Microsoft Active Server Pages (ASP) and HTML Pages.




                                                                                                   8
In response to user actions, for example clicking a button to submit information or clicking on a
hyperlink, the client tier interacts with the middle application tier to make requests and to
retrieve data from the information tier. The application tier works in tandem with the client tier
to process incoming requests and send responses back to the front-end. The client tier then
displays the data retrieved from the middle tier to the user. The client tier never directly interacts
with the information tier.


System functionality of our application can thus be easily extended as required in the future by
plugging in or adding more user interfaces and/or modifying the existing one.


Middle Tier (Application):


The middle tier (also referred to as the application server) implements business logic, controller
logic and presentation logic to control interactions between the application's clients and the
application's data. The middle tier acts as an intermediary between data in the information tier
and the application's clients.


The middle tier server improves performance, flexibility, maintainability, reusability, and
scalability by centralizing process logic. Centralized process logic makes administration and
change management easier by localizing system functionality so that changes must only be
written once and placed on the middle tier server to be available throughout the systems.


The middle-tier controller logic processes client requests (such as requests to view the status of
all resources currently) and retrieves data from the database. The middle-tier presentation logic
then processes data from the information tier and presents the content to the client.


In our application, this application-level logic is developed in Microsoft Visual Basic in the form
of Dynamic Link Library (DLL) modules. It helps with managing and reusing the code, thus
making the application easy to maintain and enhance. This tier uses ActiveX Data Object (ADO)
to communicate with the database.




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Business logic in the middle tier enforces business rules and ensures that data is reliable before
the server application updates the database or presents data to users. Business rules dictate how
clients can and cannot access application data and how applications process data. For example, a
business rule in the middle tier of our planner application might ensure that the number of
available resources on bench always remain positive (or zero). A client request to set a negative
quantity in the bottom tier's product-information database would be rejected by this business
logic in the middle tier.


Information Tier (Data Services):


The information tier (also called the data tier or the bottom tier) maintains data pertaining to the
application. This tier typically stores data in a relational database management system
(RDBMS), like Oracle 9i, which is used as the RDBMS in our application’s information tier.
Typically, the system stores all the data that the application processes and displays in this layer.
For example, our planner application has a database for storing all information about all the
resources, including their personal as well as professional data. The same database also contains
client information, such as user names, billing addresses and also the projects currently under
way at these client sites. This tier can contain multiple databases, which together comprise the
data needed for an application.


All the information entered by the users through web interface is stored in the system database.
The developed system supports the use of Oracle as well as MS-Access database for storing the
information.




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5. System Design


5.1 System Goals

Following are the major goals that were kept in mind when designing the application in the
initial phases:



       Extendibility:

        Any new addition or modification of functionality should not affect the entire system. All
        modules of the system are designed in a way that any new module can be easily added
        without disturbing the functionality of another module. Thus, the addition of any
        functionality is transparent to the rest of the system.

       Scalability:

        Scalability refers to the ability of a system to either handle growing amounts of work in a
        graceful manner, or to be readily enlarged. Thus, when the load on the system increases,
        which in our case, pertains to the user load and/or growing complexity of they involved
        functionalities which tend to put a greater load on the system, the system is designed such
        that it can handle these situations gracefully, as opposed to crashing or failing to respond.

       Security:

        Since the system is designed to be extensible and scalable in nature, it is very important
        to make sure that as these features increase in their capacity, security within the system is
        not compromised. The design should provide secure communication and adequate
        authentication and authorization before any transaction can take place between the tiers.

       Performance:

        The design should provide good performance in terms of low overhead, response time
        and throughput. It is very important that the KPIs and reports do not take too long to be
        generated as the people who demands these entities cater to, are usually the busiest
        people in the company.


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5.2 Design Diagram

Based on the requirements of a typical consulting company, the system has been designed to be a
coalition of five (5) different modules. These modules pretty much sum up the required
functionality and features for the application.


The following figure (figure 2) depicts these five prime modules that the system is made up of.




                                                 SolvPlanner




Administration      Project Management      Resource Management          KPIs                  Reports

1.   Create User    1.   Create Project     1.   View resource    1.   Active Projects   1.   Resource
2.   Edit User      2.   Edit Project            schedule         2.   Resources on           schedule report
3.   Create Login   3.   Assign resources   2.   View Resource         Bench             2.   Resources
4.   Define KPI     4.   Define Customers        Role             3.   Customer               availability
     Range                                                             awaiting               report
                                                                       Paperwork.        3.   Resource
                                                                  4.   Customers/Proj         Details
                                                                       ects              4.   Resource
                                                                  5.   # of resources         Report
                                                                       by TAM            5.   Project Report
                                                                  6.   Project
                                                                       Deadlines




                                                    Figure 2


These five modules are the core of the application and each module is responsible for a specific
function and/or operation within the system, that the system is intended to perform. The modules
are individually described below:


     1. Administration


         This is the main module of the application. It handles all data about the users, their
         professional information such as skill set, department, designation, headquarter location


                                                                                                                12
   (US, India) etc and personal information such as phone no, Email ID and address. As the
   name suggests, this provides the administrative functionalities to maintain the system. A
   user with Administrative rights maintains this module and thus the details about the
   resources, rights for each user, site credentials, KPI Settings etc.


   Some of the key functionalities provided by this module are:
      o Create new users
      o Edit existing user details
      o Create user logins
      o Define KPI settings

2. Project Management


   This module handles all information about the projects, the customer that the project is
   being developed for, status of the project, project timeframe and resources involved.
   Thus, this module covers all aspects of managing a project from a resource and customer
   perspective. This gives the managers a summary of the projects at hand.


   Some of the key functionalities provided by this module are:
      o Add new projects
      o Edit existing project details
      o Assign resources to projects
      o Define customers


3. Resource Management


   This module is responsible for maintaining the details about resources such as their
   schedules, the projects that the resources are engaged on, their role in the project and
   their availability. Resource managers can use this module for assigning project tasks to
   resources by identifying the availability of the resources and also then tracking their
   progress.



                                                                                         13
   Some of the key functionalities provided by this module are:
      o View resource schedules
      o Assign tasks
      o Monitor resource status and role


4. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)


   This module provides access to the very important KPIs. Various KPIs such as “High-
   level schedule of the projects”, “Number of resources on bench”, “Number of active
   projects” etc provide information in the form of charts, speedometers and alerts. This is
   very useful to the managers and decision-makers for a quick analysis and prompt
   decisions. These indicators help managers quickly get an overview of all the different
   activities of the organization without having to navigate through different sections or
   having to run numerous queries on the system to get relevant data.


   Some of the key KPIs provided by this module are:
      o Active projects
      o Resources on bench
      o Customers awaiting paperwork
      o Projects per customer
      o Number of resources by TAM
      o High-level project deadlines


5. Reports


   Based on the data input for projects and resources, the application generates reports for
   helping management to use its resources effectively. This module is responsible for
   helping managers generate and distribute these reports for analysis. The module allows
   users to generate reports about projects, resources, customers etc in a either HTML or MS
   Excel format.




                                                                                         14
Some of the major reports provided by this module are:
   o Resource schedule report
   o Resource availability report
   o Resource Report
   o Projects report




                                                         15
6. System Implementation


6.1 Technologies used

      Presentation Layer: Active Server Pages (ASP), HTML, Flash Controls
      Business Objects: Visual Basic (VB), Dynamic Link Libraries (DLLs), ActiveX Data
       Object (ADO), MS Excel Library
      Database: Oracle 9i
      Web Server: IIS 6.0 on Microsoft Windows 2000 Server
      IDE: Microsoft Visual Studio 6.0
      Web Browser: Internet Explorer 6 (IE6) or above



6.2 Presentation Layer

The front-end of the application has been developed as a collection of web pages, grouped
together based on their functionality and usage. Majority of the web pages are created using the
Microsoft Active Server Pages (ASP) technology. This includes client-side scripting using
Microsoft Visual Basic (VB) and presentation code using Hypertext Markup Language (HTML).


The client web pages also include Macromedia (Shockwave) Flash controls, which are used to
display Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in the form of speedometers, bar charts, pie charts
etc. on the client browser. This requires the client browser to be equipped with the Flash plugin,
in absence of which the KPI controls would not appear.


The Graphical User Interface (GUI) for the client is implemented as a series of data entry and
display screens, which the user can easily navigate through. The navigation within the system is
managed by creating a left panel in the window, which has links to all the individual modules
and their sub pages. This makes it extremely easy for the user to switch screens between modules
or within a module easily with just a click of the mouse.




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6.3 Business Logic Layer

At the business logic layer (application), Microsoft Internet Information Services (IIS) has been
used as the web/application server. It is used to host the web application, where it is deployed on.
The application has been deployed on the server with a specific folder packaging structure,
which holds all the code files that make up the business logic for the entire application.


The logic for all functions of the application has been written mostly in the form of a Dynamic
Link Library (DLL), which are registered on to the web sever. A DLL is basically a library of
executable functions or data that can be used by a Windows-based application such as ours.
Typically, a DLL provides one or more particular functions and a program can access these
functions by creating and referencing either a static or dynamic link to the DLL. The DLL is
loaded on server start up and global application parameters make use of functions within it to
load some specific dataset at start up.


The code logic makes use of ActiveX Data Object (ADO) constructs to connect to the database
residing in the data layer and retrieve data that the application requests. ActiveX Data Objects
(ADOs) enable client applications to access and manipulate data from a variety of sources
through an OLE DB provider. Its primary benefits are ease of use, high speed, low memory
overhead, and a small disk footprint. It provides easy and efficient access to data from languages
such as Microsoft Visual Basic, which is used by the code logic in our application.


The application code also uses the Microsoft Excel Library to generate reports in the Excel
format. This functionality is used by the “Reports” module to generate excel reports dynamically
by retrieving data from the server and using the logic to create spreadsheets.




                                                                                                 17
6.4 Data Layer

The data layer of the system consists of the back-end database system, which contains the
database schema for the application, together with the data. The DB schema has been designed
keeping in mind all the entities involved in the system and their interaction. The business logic
layer interacts with the data layer in response to client requests to query and retrieve data. It then
processes the data to generate results to display to the presentation layer. The database
management system (DBMS) used in the project is Oracle 9i.


The following diagram (Figure 3) shows the structure of the system schema with 18 tables, their
column fields and the primary keys:




                                             Figure 3


                                                                                                   18
Schema Tables:

   1) Customer: This table stores all the customer information such as Name, Address, Contact
      Person, Website etc.

   2) Address: This table stores the address details of the customers and resources including
      city, state, zip, country etc.

   3) Project: This table stores all the detailed information about a project such as name,
      customer, start date, end date, resource allotted etc.

   4) Stage: This table stores information about the possible values for the stage at which a
      project can possibly be.

   5) Status: This table stores the information about the possible values for the status of a
      project at a customer site.

   6) Project_Category: This table stores the information about the values for the categories
      that a project can fall under.

   7) Project_Stage: This table stores the information about the stage that every project is at.

   8) Resource_Project: This table stores the information about the relationship between
      resources and projects, i.e. which project has what resources assigned to.

   9) Tasks: This table stores the detailed information about every task that is created for every
      project.

   10) Skill: This table stores the information about the possible values for the skill-set that a
       resource may possess.

   11) Resource_Skill: This table stores the information about what skill-set each resource
       possesses.

   12) Delay_Reason: This table stores all the possible values for the reasons that a project gets
       delayed due to.

   13) Task_Type: This table stores all the possible values for the type of task.

   14) Task_Status: This table stores information about all tasks and their status.

   15) Resource: This table stores all the detailed information about a resource such as his name,
       address, login id, password, manager id etc.




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16) Designation: This table stores all the possible values for the designation that a resource
    may be at.

17) Resource_Type: This table stores all the possible values for the type of resource that each
    resource may be.

18) Department: This table stores all the possible values for the department that a resource
    may belong to in the company.




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7. Screenshots & Walkthrough


This section includes screenshots and a walk-through of the application as a reference for users.

   (1) Login Screen

The following figure shows the login screen of the application. The users supply their login
credentials on this screen to login to the application.




On supplying an incorrect username and/or password, an error message is returned to the user,
shown in the following figure –




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   (2) Landing (Home) Page

Once the user supplies correct credentials, the authentication and authorization module logs him
in to the application and loads the following landing page –




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The following screenshot shows the home (landing) page that the user sees as soon as he logs in
to the application. This page has all the KPIs on the right frame in the window, while on the left
frame is the navigation structure for all the various modules of the system, as well as the link to
logout from the application.




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(3) Key Performance Indicators (KPIS)

Once the user lands on to this page, he has the ability to click on any of the KPI objects and get a
detailed view.

On clicking the “Active Projects” KPI, the following detailed screen appears which displays all
the details about projects – the number of active projects, the number of projects in pipeline (not
yet started), the number of completed projects etc. It also displays the number of resources and
other project-specific information for a quick review.

The list of projects on the screen is characterized by special color codes for each project record.
This color scheme has been designed for a visual communication to the user about when the
project in ending, without having the check the project dates. The Red, Yellow, and Green colors
respectively represent projects ending in the next 7 days, those ending between 7-15 days, and
those ending after 15 days from now. This gives the managers a quick way of figuring out what
to do about a project that is ending completion.




                                                                                                 24
This screen also displays the information about projects that are in pipeline, i.e. waiting to start,
and all projects that have already ended. Scrolling down the above window gives that
information, shown in the screenshot below.




                                                                                                  25
The “Project Name” field on every record is a clickable field and gives an easy way to pull the
detailed information about a specific project from the list. Once clicked, the project details
appear (screenshot below), and the project information can also be changed from the same
screen.

The Project Details screen also provides the ability to extend the duration of a project without
having to enter all the information again. This can be done through the “Extend” button on the
screen, which prompts for the new extension dates for the project.




                                                                                             26
The Project Details screen also has two links at the top called “Stages” and “Tasks”. Clicking on
these displays the respective information about a project pertaining to the various stages of the
project and the various tasks that have been assigned to resources on the project.

The following screenshot show the information about the project stages:




                                                                                              27
The following screenshot shows the information about the tasks assigned in the project to the
allotted resources, with details about every task such as task type, status, assigned to, and
priority.

This screen also has a link to “Assign New task”, which allows the user to assign a new task on
the project to a resource, which is then displayed on the same screen as a new task.




                                                                                            28
The second KPI – “Resources on Bench” displays the information about how many resources are
currently on bench (not actively working on projects). When the KPI is clicked on from the
home page, the detailed data about all these resources is displayed in a tabular form.

This screenshot below shows this data about the resources on bench, which also displays
information about the resource such as his manager and his skill-set.




                                                                                        29
The third KPI represents the customers awaiting paperwork to be processed. The pie chart shows
each customer as a color and when the mouse is hovered over each slice, it displays the name of
the customer and the number of projects that the customer is awaiting paperwork on.

The following screenshot displays the above information.




                                                                                            30
When the user clicks on any of the slices within the pie chart, the details of all projects at that
customer are displayed, including running projects, projects in pipeline, and completed projects.

The following screenshot displays this screen.




                                                                                                31
The next KPI “Customer/Projects” displays the information about the number of active projects
per customer site. The number of projects is displayed on the bars. There might be cases when
for a project; the billing is done to one customer, while the invoice is shipped to another
customer. This happens mostly when a project is subcontracted to a company by a vendor. For
such projects, two different colors, blue and yellow represent the “Bill to” and “Ship to” address
respectively.

The following screenshot shows the above information:




                                                                                               32
The next KPI is the “number of resources by TAM”. This KPI displays the number of resources
manager by a Team & Accounts Manager (TAM). Each account manager is responsible for one
or more accounts, which translates to one or more customers. Every customer is considered an
account. There might be more than one project running at one account. This shows all the
resources assigned to projects that are under the selected account manager.


The following screenshot displays this information.




                                                                                         33
On clicking the name of a project owner (account manager), it displays a list of all the projects
owned by him. The following screenshot displays the list:




                                                                                              34
The last KPI displays the information about high-level project deadlines in terms of weeks. This
indicator is used by managers to keep track of all the projects ending in the near future, thus
enabling them to make sure they staff the resources coming out of that project on another one, or
to work on getting an extension on the same project.

On hovering over the particular project bar, it displays the number of weeks left on the project.
The following screenshot displays that information:




                                                                                              35
The user can click on the bar representing the project deadline and get more information about
that project. The following screenshots displays that information:




                                                                                           36
(4) Administration Module

As explained in the system architecture section, this section allows the admin user to
add/modify/delete resources, change KPI settings, and create/modify user logins.

The screenshots below shows the screen when the “Resources” link is clicked on from the
Administration module. The drop-down list in the first field called Resource lets you either add
new resource or choose and existing resource. Details for a new resource can be filled in or the
existing details of a user can be modified. This covers the personal and professional information
about the resource.

The options at the bottom of the screen let you “save” (save changes), “cancel” (cancel changes)
or “delete” (delete resource).




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38
The “Site” link allows the administrator to modify the login id or password for a user to the
system. Once a resource is selected from the drop-down list of resources, his login information is
displayed. The Site page also has a button called “permissions” which allows the administrator to
set the resource’s permissions to the system (application).

The following screenshot shows the Site page and the drop-down list of resources.




                                                                                               39
The following screenshot shows the user permissions when clicked on the “permissions” button.
It also allows the administrator to change the permissions depending on the level of authorization
of the resource.




                                                                                               40
The “KPI Settings” link lets the administrator to specify the settings for the KPI section. The first
two KPI speedometers (Active Projects & Resources on Bench) can be customized for a better
view of the data. The maximum and minimum values of the speedometer levels can be set so that
the      data      is     displayed       within       the       range       of      the      meter.

The following screenshot displays the KPI settings page.




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(5) Projects Module


The Projects module provides all the information in the system about all projects. This includes
the customer, resources staffed at projects, project dates, status, tasks etc.

The following screenshot displays this information when the “Projects” link is clicked from the
left navigation section.




                                                                                             42
The “Add New Project” link at the top allows the user to add a new project to the system. The
following screenshot shows the data entry screen for a new project. This screen lets the user
enter all the detailed information about a new project including project name, owner, start and
end dates, resource assigned etc.




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The projects screen also displays all completed projects and all projects that are yet to start (in
pipeline). The following screenshots displays that information.




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Clicking on any project name from the left navigation panel brings up the screen with the
information about that project. This information can then also be changed from this screen and
saved.

The following screenshot shows the page:




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(6) Customers module

The third module displays all customer information to the user. All the customers in the system
are displayed as a list in the left navigation panel. The main frame displays all projects at all
customer sites.

The following screenshot shows the customers page.




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The “Add new Customer” link at the top of the page lets the user add a new customer to the
system. All the details about the new customer can thus be added from this screen. It also allows
the user to edit the information about an existing customer by choosing the customer name from
the drop- down list of customers.

The following screenshots display these pages.




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48
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A specific customer can be selected from the list in the left navigation panel, which displays the
details of all the projects at that customer site. A particular project can then be selected from the
list displayed and details about that project can be viewed. Also, new projects can be added at the
customer site using the “Add Projects” link at the top of the page.

The following screenshot shows these pages.




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51
(7) Resource Management Module


This module allows the administrators to view the details for status of all resources. A list of all
the resources in the system is displayed in the left navigation panel. On clicking on any of the
names, the details of the resource are displayed in terms of his project assignment. The main
page then shows what projects the resource is assigned to, what the dates for the project are,
when it is ending etc.

The page also allows the user to filter the resource project list based on Projects, Stages, Task
types, and priorities.

The following screens display these pages.




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53
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(8) Reports Module


This module allows the users with proper privileges to generate reports based on the data in the
system about resources and projects.

There are various reports that can be generated in the system such as Resource Schedule report,
Resource Availability report, Project Report etc.

The following screenshot displays the “Resource Schedule Report”.




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This report also gives the user the option to choose only a specific resource or customer or
project as well.

For example, for the customer Yahoo, the following resource schedule report is generated.




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Another option also lets you generate this report in the MS Excel format, as shown in the
following screenshot.




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Another important report is the “Weekly Timesheet” report for a resource. When a date range is
specified for a resource, the system generates the timesheet for the resource, showing the details
of the project and the hours worked on during that time period by the resources and the tasks
accomplished.


This report can also be generated in the Excel spreadsheet format for easy access, storage, and
distribution.




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61
The Non-Project Hours link at the bottom generates another HTML report with the details about
non-project hours spent by the resource on work.




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Other report options allow the users to generate the respective reports in the HTML or XLS
format.

Another important functionality in the reports module is to be able to Email Resource detail
report to specified email addresses. This allows the managers to email themselves reports in
HTML format for later use and reference. The following screenshots show these pages.




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8. Conclusion and Future Work

This application has been designed and developed after a lot of thought being put into the
necessity of such a system. The need of this system was felt greatly by one and all in the
company, in absence of an online application for doing the most routine tasks involved in the
daily operations of any small consulting company.

The application has been deployed into production now and in a very short span of use, it has
proven to be indispensable already. The need for such a system is heightened by the fact that the
employees are the only asset that the company owns. These resources are traveling all the time,
and it gets really difficult for anyone to keep track of timesheets, expenses, project deadlines etc.
This application has proved to be a major tool for managers and the decision-makers in the
company to keep a constant eye on the performance of every individual, which amounts to the
performance of the entire company. The KPIs developed for this application are immensely
helpful for these people to get a quick and hassle-free overview of all the data that makes up the
most important part their day to day work.

This project was taken up as a challenge at a stage when I was still an intern, trying to learn the
functioning of the company. Developing this application gave me immense insight into the
company’s work and daily functions. The confidence bestowed upon me by my managers and
peers helped me a lot in making this a success.

Even though this system has been developed keeping in mind the current needs of the company,
there is a lot that can be done to enhance the functionalities. Some of the most obvious
enhancements to the system are listed below, which will be undertaken as a separate project in
the coming months:

      Enhance the system to serve as a full-blown Intranet application as opposed to just a
       planning tool
      Upgrade the application to the Microsoft .NET platform, depending on the resource
       availability and budget approval for the system
      Add more reports from a customer stand-point, thus a possibility of providing access to
       customers as well to track their own projects
      Streamline the navigation and flow of information in a much better way, to enhance the
       effectiveness and efficiency of the system
      Deploy the application on an extranet environment for users to be able to access it at all
       times from all locations




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9. References


  1. Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN), Microsoft Corp.
     http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/default.aspx

  2. Microsoft Active Server Pages 101
     http://www.asp101.com/

  3. Microsoft Internet Information Services (IIS), Microsoft Corp.
     http://www.microsoft.com/WindowsServer2003/iis/default.mspx

  4. Oracle 9i Online Documentation, Oracle Corp.
     http://tahiti.oracle.com/pls/db901/db901.homepage

  5. Microsoft Visual Basic 6.0 resources, Microsoft Corp.
     http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/vbrun/ms788232.aspx

  6. Microsoft Visual Studio 6.0, Microsoft Corp.
     http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?pr=vst

  7. Microsoft ActiveX Data Objects (ADO), Microsoft Corp.
     http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/default.asp?url=/library/en-
     us/ado270/htm/dasdkadooverview.asp

  8. Multi-tier Application Architecture, Deitel.com
     http://www.deitel.com/articles/visualbasic2005_tutorials/20050923/MultitierApplication
     Architecture.html




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