Project HOPE

Project Lessons
I have been in many situations where I was a team member working to implement a project but have not been the actual Project Manager before. The practice of Project Management is not simple. There are many facets of project management some of which we did not know existed. Some of these facets in the following paragraphs are PM principles that where required and we did or did not anticipate and implement them properly. Planning at project start-up, when we were planning for project startup we did take into account that things would go wrong. Our main concern was implementing a contingency fund. The contingency fund ended up helping a lot when it was apparent that we had received a bad Linksys VPN endpoint, we where able to run out to COMPUSA and purchase another from a different vendor. At the same time we where thinking about a contingency fund we should have implemented better time management on planning our time in the future sometimes we where pressed for time. Documentation of the project and organization, we did a good job of documenting the project. Every day there was documentation printed up on the activities of that day and goals set in place for the next time we would meet. This simplified the next workday and allowed us to be more proactive while we where at the Hope Center. Tracking, monitoring and managing cost came very natural to us from the beginning of the project. We did not and could not consider labor costs so that was a benefit to us. We were on a very tight budget and this caused us technical issues with the VPN. We would have liked to have more time to research the equipment that was available to us for the budget that we had.

Project Lessons

HOPE Center 2003

Harry Harshaw Thomas Watkins

Project HOPE

Time and risks, time ended up being our most used and scarce resource on the project. Since all of the project members, where married with children it was tough to balance this project with work and home. There was a lot of sacrificing for everyone involved. This was one of the most difficult parts of the project. On the other side of that I seen it create a more focused team and raised the original standards that where set.

Project oversight, was easily handled since there was only two of us. We both acted as Project Managers. When one of us was not there the other, would still document their actions set goals and immediately give that information to the other member of the team. This was a very good way of doing things on a project of this size. Reviewing and issue management was handled very well because documentation was handled and produced nightly. Expectations and goals set in place for the next available workday. Reviewing was handled well because after each action item on the project plan description we reviewed. Sometimes we reviewed for a few minute and sometimes up to a couple of hours. Some of the action items we only reviewed for a couple of minutes came back to bite us hard. The VPN was one of those issues. As we first started out the VPN was easily configured and everything should have gone correctly with it. As we did more research into the VPN it became apparent that there was more than one option which were PPTP and IPsec. Point to point tunneling protocol could be easily configured but would not provide the customer with the level of security they where looking for. IPsec was far more complicated. Given the customer’s background in IT a decision needed to be made in the middle of the project, we feel that this should have been made at the planning for project start-up stage. It would have influenced other decisions made at previous levels of the project and influenced what kind of resources we obtained from our vendor.
Project Lessons HOPE Center 2003 Harry Harshaw Thomas Watkins

Project HOPE

Quality assurance plans throughout implementation we did a good job with but when it came to documented tests we ran into a roadblock. Even though we know that we did a great job, creating a much more stable network environment it would have been great to measure the network utilization before we began the project to compare it to the ending result. Employees who use the network provided exceptional feedback and said the speed of the network was enhanced greatly. Just knowing and being able to quantify results is two different things. Our project closure included post-implementation evaluations for measuring success and listed future improvements. The customer is taking our suggestions for future improvements seriously. One of the exceptional aspects is the customer is going to be able cheaply create an IP based VPN network that includes other sites. The customer would only have to purchase other SMC barricade routers and place them at additional sites. The router can hold multiple IPsec tunnels to other routers or locations, which can mesh the customers LANs together at the fraction of the price of Frame relay network or leased lines. The lessons we have learned here can be applied in the future by implementing some simple Project Management practices into future projects we have the opportunity to work on or with. In the future there will be a more thought out predetermined structure for our team. A project charter, which is a problem statement with objectives clearly defined, will be set in place. We have found that defining roles and responsibilities with each team member facilitates an understanding of what is expected of whom with each deliverable. Budget, priorities and tracking processes must be communicated, as well as a statement of work, including a defined communications plan and project status updates on a constant basis. Successes benchmarked or measured (metrics gathered) with
Project Lessons HOPE Center 2003 Harry Harshaw Thomas Watkins

Project HOPE

feedback of the added value that is meaningful to the organization for the product implemented. There were many things that where learned along the way to the completion of this project. They range from how to configure Windows 2000 server accounts to making sure that you have the existing IP information from your Internet provider before taking down the an existing network router. The most significant of the technical items learned was the need to set a VPN network for the customer that will fit their needs. The difference between PPTP and IPsec are major. For example: PPTP only offers a very low level of security while IPsec offers a much better form of security. This is done by layer utilizing the full potential of layer two. A business need that was very critical in the project was security. Throughout the project a lot of though and actions where geared toward this aspect. A WEP key was set in place to secure the network along with a perimeter firewall and a local firewall on each machine. This was a learning experience for all parties involved. Since the Hope center network contains a personal data of there clients that are going through a tough time in there life most of them do not want there personal information broadcast around the web in a careless fashion. During the project, we learned that security is not an easy task to accomplish and allow network users to access the files and folders that they need to have a productive and error free work experience. Given that security was such a big issue, we would have scheduled more time and more money to be used in the realm of security. The configuration of security was such a time consuming task that it set us back one day and we where no longer in good standing with our project template in MS Project working over time to catch up solved this problem. Wireless security is a gigantic issue in today’s business environment that money is poured into to on a constant basis and as soon as Systematic or another vendor can implement security there is someone out there reverse engineering the software to cause malicious attacks. We took every precaution we could possible dream up to limit the effects a malicious entity might have on the network.
Project Lessons HOPE Center 2003 Harry Harshaw Thomas Watkins

Project HOPE

The Internet connection at the hope center is an SDSL at the beginning of the project we thought that this was perfect for the Hope Center but as time went on there where certain things that can go wrong. The Hope Center SDSL seemed to loose Sync with their existing SDSL modem. This causes a error in the router and it needs to be rebooted. This problem created a Domino effect for us because when the Router goes down access to the LAN through VPN goes down. Even though the workstations inside the Hope Center still function internally and transfer files. If we could go back in time to the start of the project, we would recommend to the Hope Center a more reliable connection such as a cable modem or a fractional T-1 with a port speed of 256K or 512K. This would provide a much more stable environment. Another technical aspect of this project that required us to dig deep and learn things that where not on hand knowledge was that Cisco Catalyst 2900 XL switch. This switch required a lot of configuration and we where able to research it. We learned that placing the switch on the network was very different from just placing it into a diagram. There are many aspects of a switch not covered by network diagrams. After extensive research from www.cisco.com we where able to properly configure the switch. We should have spent a lot more time researching the switch before hand. The Cisco switch was an experience and a half. We would like to become more familiar with it. In conclusion, this project was a tremendous learning experience. It allowed us to determine technical requirements that satisfied the customers needs as well as pushing the technology that was available to us to the limits of there performance. We had the opportunity to balance a budget and meet the customers needs through inventive and resourceful solutions. We where able to attain project completion through documentation that was concise and complete even though there where many setbacks and interruptions to the project from internal and external elements we where able to complete the project in the required time frame. By applying what we learned at DeVry University over the past three years guaranteed us a successful launch and completion of the WI FI network the Hope Center now has in place.

Project Lessons

HOPE Center 2003

Harry Harshaw Thomas Watkins

Project HOPE

Project Lessons

HOPE Center 2003

Harry Harshaw Thomas Watkins

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