Examples of Project Specifications

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Integrated Project Management
By Earl Hall, Juliane Johnson
Table of Contents
Chapter 2.  The Project, the Statement of Work, and the Specification


Specification

Develop a project marketing launch plan for the A to Z sheet metal washer that will cost effectively identify and gain the attention of all potential customers, produce sales of 100 units during the first six months of product availability, and ensure field support for every machine sold according to the corporate-defined commitment to product support.

Discussion

This specification is fairly clean, but "cost effective" is not an acceptable statement for a specification. The statement must either define how cost effectiveness is to be measured or provide a specific cost target for the project. In addition, the term "all potential customers" is not measurable. This might be marginally acceptable for an experienced marketing organization, but a clearer specification would call for a potential customer list of "10,000" customers who meet the stated characteristics. "Field support for every machine according to the corporate-defined commitment to product support" is only satisfactory for the specification if there is a document defining this commitment. Otherwise, the product support part of the specification needs to be extensively expanded. It is easy to refine this specification and well worth the time to do so.

Specification

Design a year-round vacation cottage that will conform to the standards of the Bloomington, MN, building code, with 900 square feet of living space in three rooms a living/dining/kitchen room, a bedroom, and a bathroom. The bathroom shall have a shower, sink, and toilet. The bedroom shall accommodate a king-size bed, and the living/dining/kitchen room will be the largest room in the cottage. You must provide a concrete slab foundation, an R18 heat transmission value in the walls, and an R24 value in the ceiling. In addition, you must provide a fireplace sufficient to keep the cottage at 60 degrees inside with a -20 degree temperature and -40 degree windchill outside. Indoor plumbing, electricity for operating a cooking stove, a refrigerator, and a washer/dryer also must be provided. The cost is not to exceed $100,000.

Discussion

This specification is a good first try, but it still needs work. First, the architect must know what lot the cottage will be built on or at least the characteristics of the soil that will support it so that a foundation can be designed. Knowing the location of the lot and its surroundings also will guide the architect in placing the entryway and windows.

The specification also references the Bloomington, MN, building code. This is important. Without such a reference, much of the content of the building code would have to appear in the specification.

Some reference to outside appearance also must be provided to guide the architect. Wood siding, logs, aluminum siding, brick, and so on, need to be considered and chosen. Some guidance regarding the interior trim, windows, and doors also is needed.

Nine hundred square feet of living space is not sufficiently precise. A very unusual architect might design a house 10 feet wide by 90 feet long. To avoid confusion some reference to the layout of the cottage is needed. In general, this is a situation often found where the initial specification calls for a design that must be developed collaboratively between the designer and the customer.

The specification may direct the architect to produce three cottage layouts and three exterior view sketches referencing the stated details. It can further state that the architect and the customer will review the sketches and agree on one or a composite taken from the three sketches. Then, the architect will finish the design. The architect's finished design and layouts will become the specification that the builder will use in constructing the cottage. The cost statement must be a target and must clearly refer to either the architect charges or the cost of the finished cottage.

The interaction between project manager and customer noted here as layouts are discussed, is frequently necessary in a project. It therefore, must be noted in the specification and built into the project plan.

Specification

Write a program for providing a firm with a computer-based accounting system containing up to 500 accounts. Note that the program will provide 1) the entry of sales information of accounts receivable for up to 200 customers, with entries accurate to the penny and up to $100,000; 2) an accounts payable entry system for 100 vendors with the same dollar constraints; 3) the ability to automatically bill customers monthly, specifying a finance charge option of 1 percent a month for accounts 30 days overdue; 4) the ability to automatically write checks for vendors when the accounts come due, with a manual override for those checks that are issued selectively; and 5) a monthly profit and loss statement and balance sheet. The program will be written in C++ language to run with a UNIX operating system on a machine with 9 GB of disk storage.

Discussion

The critical consideration regarding this specification is the clarity of the communication between the customer and the project software developer. To an accountant familiar with small business double-entry bookkeeping, this specification may be clear. However, it would still require the development of a Beta test. This Beta test would demonstrate the functions so that the customer and the software developer could agree that if the package passed the Beta test, it could be expected to perform all the functions the customer desires.

This assumes, however, that the software developer also is trained and some-what experienced in double-entry bookkeeping. There are thousands of details buried in the statement of requirements that demand knowledge of accounting. The details of how a double-entry bookkeeping system works and what its inputs and outputs are must be understood by anyone who is going to develop a software package to perform bookkeeping functions. Thus, the customer or a third party must explain these and train the software developer. A course in accounting also is indicated. At the same time, the customer must be briefed in what a software package can be designed to do and must understand the advantages and disadvantages of the different design approaches. Sometimes software package customers do not feel that they can agree on a specification until the software developer explains to them what they can have.

In fact, many big problems have emerged in software development and in other areas when a customer and a provider have not communicated clearly. A specification that both parties can agree on that describes the project's objectives adequately and accurately in language that both understand is necessary for any project.

Specification

(An old one, but a good one!) This project has the following four planning objectives:

  1. Upgrade the computer hardware used to support the existing shop floor document management and tool crib system in Macon, GA. The existing systems will be migrated from a UNIX platform to a 32-bit Windows®-based distributed processing client/server network. In addition, server soft-ware will utilize the existing NT 4.0 file server. All of the client's PCs are to be at least Compaq Pentium 650s with 128 MB of RAM, running Windows 98®. The software language used to support existing business applications will not change.

  2. Integrate an enhanced Electronic Tool Design Requestor (ETDR) system with the existing Material Requirements Planning (MRP) system. Known integration requirements are

    • Avoid duplicate data entry

    • Provide existing on-line application client PC interfaces for

      - Machine tool operators

      - Tool crib personnel

      - Manufacturing engineers

      - System administrators

    • Receive tool requests from the shop floor to issue specialized tools for the fabrication of specific parts identified by the MRP system

    • Send and receive problem reports from the shop floor to the Manufacturing Engineer Production Control Center

  3. Determine the feasibility of completing all computer hardware and soft-ware tasks by no later than January 15, 2003.

  4. Develop a jointly agreed-upon systems requirements document and acceptance test (Beta test) for the final acceptance of all hardware and software capabilities before beginning migration and upgrade activity. Customer and contractor officers will sign off on the requirements document and acceptance test.

Discussion

The shop floor document management system upgrade and migration specification is as stated, "The project has four planning objectives," which is A project to plan for a project that subsequently will be executed.

Paragraph one identifies the specific site where the project will be executed. An existing system at this site has been defined and documented. The PC network hardware to be used also is precisely defined, as is the software file server.

The general statement specifies that the existing systems will be migrate from a UNIX platform to a 32-bit Windows®-based distributed processing client/server network.

Paragraph two sets forth in some detail what the project outcomes should be. The MRP system that is to be part of the total systems also exists. The enhanced ETDR system also exists, or it must be identified. If the ETDR system has been identified but not enhanced, it is necessary to spell out that a part of the project is to enhance this system, and it is critical that what is meant by "enhanced" be precisely stated in a system performance terms. Words like "enhance," "improve," "better," "best," and "highest quality," are not satisfactory for a project specification. Their meaning must always be spelled out in precise, measurable terms.

The statement "known integration requirements" is to be followed by the specifics as an effective way of identifying deliverables, but the word "known" suggests that this requirement is open-ended. This is not satisfactory as it stands. Either the systematic process of inquiry and discussion with a clear definition of closure must be specified, or the word "known" is dropped. It can be dropped with the understanding that if and when additional integration requirements are identified, the project change procedure can be followed to batch the new requirements and include them in a new, expanded project specification, which will then be followed by a replanning session. It is reasonable to expect that in this situation, while the replanning will extend the project, it also will follow the direction indicated by the initial project plan, which will have substantial value.

Paragraph three sets forth the primary project requirement. This project is a feasibility study. A complete project plan to provide the outcomes identified in paragraph two is necessary to determine whether it is feasible to meet the stated date requirements. Feasibility is measured by the fact that a complete project plan has been developed and that it either does or does not fall into the indicated time window.

Paragraph four adds the critical requirements that the customer and contract officers must mutually agree up on the details for a Beta test, which can satisfactorily demonstrate that the specification has been met. Note that paragraphs two and four are closely related.

It is clear that only people who are familiar with shop floor management and with the use of information systems tools to achieve shop floor management will fully understand this specification. If the customer and the project team all understand and clearly communicate about these processes and issues, it is not important that anyone else understand the specification.

What we end up with is not some poorly stated specification that needs to be rewritten, but a very good start on a specification that still needs some refinement.

Specification

(This example is a specification that is jointly produced by members of the quality department and the process plant managers at a Fortune 100 company.) Investigate the current finishing and polishing operation in the XYZ product plant and propose improvements that will enable scheduling cycles to be reduced from two weeks to one week in converting and from one month to one week in slitting. This also will include a proposal to implement kanban between slitting and converting. These proposals also will include estimated cost savings and are to be completed on September 1, 2003.

Discussion

The reduction of cycles to one week and implementing kanban also is measurable. An estimated cost saving is a clear deliverable.

The customer, plant manager, the process operators, and the quality improvement team know exactly what the specification refers to. They know exactly what kanban means in their organization (it refers to a tight, just-in-time type of processing). They also know how to measure costs. If they all know this information, it is not important who else does or does not understand the specification.

A review of the similar operations in the company and in the other organizations supports the feasibility of the project. The date of September 1, 2003 is a target date.

There is one serious flaw in this specification, however. It does not state that the resulting process improvement must produce products that meet the same quality standards required of the present process. The project leader, in this case, can argue that in the quality program this condition is assumed to be a given. You should note, however, specifications should never include assumptions. The process products' quality requirements should have been stated in the specification.

Many project specifications require much more than one paragraph or page. Often, the marketing department creates a specification, providing input regarding customer needs and feedback from the engineering department on how these needs may be met. Collaboratively, marketing and engineering will arrive at a detailed project specification. The following specification for repackaging the ABCD Shielded Electronics Console is such a specification.

Some specifications can require more details, such as with some information systems specifications that may go into detail in regard to what information will be input into each input screen and how each output item will be displayed.

It is not important that the general public understand the language of a specification. It is important, however, that the customer and project team be precisely clear and agree on the meaning of each term of the specification.

Specification:

  1. The existing ABCD electronics console assembly must be repackaged into a stainless steel, EMI/RFI-shielded enclosure.

    This shielded enclosure will be contained within a flame retardant polypropylene (FRPP) skin; areas of the shielded enclosure that are not covered by the FRPP skin will be straight line, grit-finished stainless steel like that used on XYZ ISR.

    The components will be mounted in drawers that may be extended out of the enclosure, either to the front or the rear. The goal is to build it with a front/rear access.

    The same components as the existing design must be used, except as noted elsewhere.

    Space for future I/O expansion must be allowed.

  2. The following remote control boxes must be incorporated into the new electronics console, and a single 208 240 volt single-phase power line must be brought in. The main GFI breaker will change, depending on which of the following options are present:

    HELIOS 52 (This control box is powered by the 480-volt supply to the HELIOS 52 heater column.)

    IR heater

    Nitrogen heater (This will not be powered by the UPS.)

    Thornton resistively/pH monitor

    Remote touch screen switch box

  3. Each set of the previous control circuitry will have dedicated realestate in the cabinet. If the option is not present, the designated space will be empty.

  4. The heated recirculation control box will remain in the existing console; EMI/RFI shielding will be added as necessary, based on test results.

  5. The booster pump will be powered off the UPS. The cabinet design will be modified only as necessary to meet the EMC requirements. The electrical box will still be mounted in the pump console.

  6. The UPS will still have a separate control box, but it will power the ZIP booster pump and IR heater. The separate control box is required because the UPS may be remotely located and must have an EPO on it. The UPS will be redesigned for 10 kVA capacity under Project 9605. Any EMI/RFI shielding modifications following testing will be done under the EMC Project 9611.

  7. Primary user interface:

    Phase I: The existing touch screen interface will be centered 5 feet up from the floor, and it will be covered by a clear shielded panel that flips up during use. Allowance will be made in this area for the incorporation of the ZETA GUI at a later date. EPO buttons will be placed on the front and rear, and a single rotary main disconnect switch on the front will remove power from all options in the spray processor system. The touch screen, EPO/main disconnect, IR heater/Nitrogen heater/HELIOS 52 controllers, resistivity monitor, disk drive, and pressure gauges will be visible without removing any of the panels.

    Phase II: Incorporate The ZETA GUI, keyboard, and its associated CPU as a touch screen emulator. Use Factory Link and OS/2 software. Other primary interface aspects are the same as Phase I.

  8. Remote user interface:

    Phase I: The remote touch screen will be contained in a shielded enclosure with an FRPP skin. This screen will still be an optional feature. The customer will no longer have the option to have a single touch screen remotely mounted.

    Phase II: To use the GUI from the rear of the electronics console, a rear pullout drawer will be provided that will contain either a fixed or remote laptop PC.

  9. The electronics console will be field upgradeable to all installed ZIP MPs. If the customer purchases the upgrade, he or she must operate on the latest software version (that is 9.071).

  10. The following are the facility power requirements at 208 240 volts singlephase 50/60 Hz; these requirements have not changed from the existing design. A fully loaded system will require a 10 kVA UPS. The Nitrogen heater will not be powered by the UPS because it is not necessary for personnel and product safety, and the Nitrogen heater chamber is not remotely located from the ZIP. Here are the facility power requirements:

    ZIP: 10 amps

    ZIP with IR heater: 40 amps

    Dual booster pump: 14 amps

  11. The identical shielded electronics console also will be used for the ZIP OC Front/Rear Access.

  12. All wiring diagrams and installation diagrams will be revised. The O&M manual must be revised for this new configuration.

  13. Make the nitrogen inlet tube 3/4 of an inch instead of 3/8 of an inch for greater flow capacity.

  14. Make the following modifications prior to the first pass EMC test:

    Add EMI/RFI filters to all I/O cables.

    Ensure all shields are properly grounded.

Discussion

This is a somewhat longer and more detailed specification that has survived review. It is specific for persons with special technical knowledge. Other specifications may follow this pattern and may require dozens of pages.

Project size does not determine the length of the specification. The specification is properly sized if it describes precisely and completely the project's deliverables.


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    Integrated Project Management
    Integrated Project Management
    ISBN: 0071466266
    EAN: 2147483647
    Year: 2005
    Pages: 190

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