2.4.2 Project planning models

A project planning model usually contains a number of stages/steps which a project has to go through to be successful. There are several project planning models on the market that can be used in educational settings.  In some of the courses described in this guide, the students decide upon their own working process in terms of project planning and management. In other courses, there is a project model integrated into the course and the students are working according to that model during the project. In some courses, agile methods such as Scrum and Kanban are taught and used.

An Example of learning activities on a project planning model from First Year Project Course in Electrical Engineering:
In this course, project planning and management skills are important. The intended learning outcomes state that participants should be able to describe and use the principles of project work, present technical information in oral and written form, and create the fundamental documents required for planning, following up, and finishing a project.

The course contains three parts:
1) Basic project planning, project management and the project model.
2) Execution of the projects.
3) Project evaluation and feedback. 

During the first part, there are lectures on how to work according to the specific project management model. In part two , the projects must be executed according to the model. In part three, the students reflect on and evaluate to what extent their project planning was successful.

A project model, which is the structure used in a project, shows the general stages of a project. This particular model contains the following steps: (1) Pre-Study, Start of the project including project plan, (2) Execution of the project including status reports, and (3) Closing the project including final report. There are also other essential aspects of a project which the students need to be aware of, e.g. resources, roles, stakeholders and the so-called “core three”; time, cost and function. The model is described in the course book Handbook for Small Projects (10).


An Example of Agile Methods used in the Degree Programme in Information and Communication Technology:
Students are learning agile methods, mainly Scrum and Kanban, throughout the study programme. Current problems within software engineering and how they have been addressed with agile methods are discussed to introduce the students to the way of thinking within the agile methodology. The agile development cycle and various modern practices such as for instance, iterative development, pair programming, refactoring, test-first programming, release planning and the combinations of these methods are interwoven in both theoretical and practical courses over the study years.

Scrum is rather a way to manage a process than a methodology and one of the elements of Scrum are the self-organizing teams. A Scrum team has no leader in the traditional sense, and all members take part in the whole process. There are specific roles in a Scrum team; the Scrum master and the Product owner. The Scrum master is coaching the team while the Product owner, who represents the customer, guides the work in the right direction. (18)

Kanban can be described as “a lean approach to agile software development” and the purpose is to “visualize the workflow” (19). When using Kanban, you divide the project into small parts that you write down on small pieces of paper that you put up on the wall. To show where in the work process each project part is, you put the notes in separate columns. There is also a limit on how many parts that can be in the same column at the same time. (19)

For additional information on Scrum and Kanban, see www.infoq.com/minibooks/scrum-xp-from-the-trenches and www.infoq.com/minibooks/kanban-scrum-minibook

An example from the course Future of Media: A guest lecturer is invited to talk about project management methods and how to work in projects. The purpose of this lecture is to inspire the students, but it is up to them to choose whether they want to work according to the described methods or not. As a student said: "
We think the lecture was good. Somehow, it is in the back of our heads, but we have not really used it. The lecturer said that we should choose a team leader, and we have, still all our decisions are made collectively. Our project manager’s main task as a manager is to attend the meetings with our teacher.”

An example from Communication system design: The students are supposed to choose project management system themselves, but they are encouraged to use agile (e.g. scrum) rather than traditional project management methods. Different groups choose different ways of managing their projects. The students also get a template for the project plan which they have to use. The teams choose a team leader. An example of a project plan template: Project Plan Template CSD

An example from the Degree Project in Biotechnology: A number of lectures is offered regarding basic project management (e.g. Gantt scheme, Work breakdown structures etc), entrepreneurship (e.g. how to present – pitch – an idea) and on how to write a report (e.g. scientific writing, plagiarism, references).

Suggestion: If the intended learning outcomes at program level contain project working/planning skills, a course focusing on methodological steps could be fruitful since the students will most likely not learn these skills by themselves. Later on during the program, to secure a progression of these skills, the complexity level of both the project tasks as well as of the students’ project working/planning skills should increase. When choosing a project planning model, consider which models are used in industry within the specific discipline and introduce these models to the students.

Administrator Oskar Bergman created page 14 July 2014

Administrator Marie Magnell changed the permissions 27 January 2015

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