The Straz Center ERP Upgrade for Education Registration System

This was a mock project management ERP implementation for The Straz Center in Tampa. Even though it was a mock project, the scenario, tools and techniques used were very real and would have resulted in a successful implementation if played out in real life. Browse through the document and have a look for yourself.

The project team, Spartan Consulting Group, will work with the Straz Center to implement an upgrade to the current CRM ERP it is using to register students for classes at the Patel Conservatory. It has become clear to the project sponsor, Brad Casey, that this CRM is not designed to register the students and schedule the educational classes that are offered by the Patel Conservatory.

The current CRM system, Tessitura, is used as a workaround, it does not provide the critical information necessary to maintain a student database, class schedules, tuition payments, or teaching schedules.The purpose of this project is to design and implement a new system that will track the revenue generated from ticket sales separately from the revenue generated from educational classes. Additionally, there will be no redundant data; if a customer sees a theatre production and takes an educational course, the system will keep one record of their personal information rather than two separate records. The resulting information housed in the new database will be more streamlined, take up less physical hardware space, and be indexed properly for rapid response time.

The project will begin in January 2014 and end by December 15, 2014. It becomes clear during the project that the most critical aspect is keeping the project on schedule; Brad needs to have the software up and running on the go-live date no matter the cost, so missing the deadline will signify project failure. Approximately six months into the upgrade, management reports from MS Project determined that the timeline would be delayed by approximately 40 days and end sometime during the month of February.

The remainder of this report will discuss in detail, the delays, how we determined there were going to be delays, and what we did to solve the issue to get the project back on schedule.

Project Name: Straz Center Technology Upgrade (Registration and Education System)

Project Manager(s): Spartan Consulting Group (SCG)

Sponsor: Brad Casey (Managing Director, Straz Center)

Budget: $1.4 Million

Project Start Date: 1/06/2014

Project End Date: 12/15/2014

The Registration and Education System project will begin on January 6th of 2014 and run through December 15, 2014. Using Microsoft Project, we have categorized the steps for completing this project into six phases which are described below. This Baseline Plan is the first step in designing the project timeline and the work breakdown structure. Copies of the Project Charter, Baseline Plan, Work Breakdown Structure, and the Preliminary Budget Report can be found in the Appendix at the end of this document.
During this first phase of our project, Spartan Consulting Group (SCG) will meet with the project sponsor, Brad Casey, and any additional stakeholders in a Kickoff Meeting which marks the beginning of the project. The purpose of the kickoff meeting is to get all members up to speed on the tasks at hand, as well as the goals and objectives for the project. Brad Casey will speak to the team members in order to set expectations and provide details for his requirements regarding price, costs, resources, deadlines, and availability of Straz project stakeholders. Individual roles and responsibilities will be determined and the overall project timeline will be set. SCG will also develop the project charter in this phase, based on the information gathered during the kickoff meeting. The project charter will formally recognize the project while providing direction regarding project costs, resources, team members, objectives, deadlines and team member contact information. This document will serve as the overarching guide, provide dates for key scheduled milestones, identify roles and responsibilities, provide details on the project approach as well as identify the project success criteria. The initiating phase is completed once Brad Casey signs off on the project charter.
During this phase, SCG will develop and review the entire project plan. This includes creating a Work Breakdown Structure that will include every detail of the project including the entire timeline for completion. The resulting Gantt chart is a visual tool that will provide detailed information for the duration of the project, and can include budget information, resource utilization reports, variance reports and earned value reports. Based on the project charter, SCG will develop a project plan that enables the Straz Center to integrate its current education and registration system with a more advanced system that will allow the organization to merge the separate business processes into one unified process. The plan includes analysis of Straz Center’s current situation in order to determine suitable software solution providers. Once a suitable vendor has been identified and brought on board, design and implementation will begin. During the entire process, SCG will schedule weekly status report meetings and monthly performance reports and meetings in order to monitor progress to ensure that the project team meets the project objectives.
This phase will include coordinating project members and other resources to carry out the various plans and processes to create the integration results that the Straz Center is looking to accomplish. It begins with an analysis of the Straz Center’s current education and registration system. SCG will perform a needs assessment analysis which includes collecting critical issues by learning business processes already in place, assessing those processes, and then creating a plan for business process inventory. SCG will identify and interview stakeholders to get a general idea of the critical issues that the project will face, and then utilize that information to create a project schedule. The next aspect of the analysis will identify key employees to learn the business processes and then interview those employees to collect functional requirements for the system. We will analyze collected data in order to prioritize ‘must haves’ vs ‘nice to have’ functionality. Next, SCG will define processes and create guidelines and forms so that processes are documented in the same fashion. This will conclude the analysis aspect of the execution phase which will take about 53 days to complete.

The next aspect of the Executing Phase will be to select a suitable vendor for the project. SCG will match functional requirements to vendor capabilities and create a request for quote document that includes all the requirements for the new system, and then send that to potential vendors. SCG will request that vendors submit bids based on the RFQs. Bids will be reviewed and a short-list of suitable vendors will be created. A provider conference will be held where SCG will make a presentation to vendors detailing all necessary requirements for the system. SCG and Brad Casey will review final vendor bids to choose the provider at the conclusion of the conference. This portion of the Executing Phase will take approximately 61 days to complete.

The design and implementation phase will begin with system design. In this first part of implementation, SCG and Brad Casey will hire ActiveNet, who will then meet with Tessitura engineers in order to collaborate on how to best design the system for a smooth implementation process. The engineers will have one month to create a mock ActiveNet system to confirm the system is meeting the requirements for Straz Center. Todd Darrel will present the mock system to Brad Casey and SCG in order for approval. Upon approval, implementation of ActiveNet will begin, which includes Dan Wilson, Daniell Fitzer, Sam Smith and Todd Darrel, who will test the system and train Straz Center end users. The system will cost $1.05 million, which includes $250,000 for the software and $800,000 for the hardware. The completion of this phase will finalize system implementation.
SCG will conduct weekly status report meetings and monthly performance report meetings in order to regularly measure and monitor the project’s progress to ensure the objectives are being met. The weekly status report meetings will be held every Thursday and will include everyone currently working on the project. This meeting is designed to keep everyone up to date on the issues or obstacles that are encountered as the project moves along the timeline. Each month a meeting will be held on the first Monday to again include everyone currently working on the project at the time the meeting is held. Arni Ragnarrson will create each monthly performance report while Laura Bodo will create each weekly status report. SCG will identify any necessary changes that may be required in order to keep the project on track, which will be documented accordingly.
The closing phase includes formalizing acceptance of the new education and registration system, and ensuring Brad Casey and other stakeholders are satisfied with the product. SCG will archive project files, document lessons learned, close-out contracts and formally deliver the education and registration system. SCG will prepare a final project report which will be presented to project stakeholders. A wrap-up meeting will be held where Brad Casey and SCG will review the entire project to compare the initial project charter with the final project report. This will conclude the Straz Center Registration and Education Technology Upgrade project.
Brad Casey, Managing Director of the Straz Center, contacted Spartan Consulting Group (SCG) regarding a possible upgrade of his education and registration ERP system. Casey informed SCG of his available resources, including budget, employees, timeline and disclosed business processes that the current system handles. He wanted to upgrade the system to increase registration efficiency while integrating the data with other departments at the Straz Center. Casey needed support with project management, system selection and implementation.
The Straz Center serves Tampa as a cultural theatre, bringing artists and entertainment acts to the community. The center also provides outreach programs to underserved school children through the Patel Conservatory, nurturing and transforming lives. The Straz Center supports the Tampa Bay economy through its programs and is the fourth largest performing arts institution in the country. The center includes four performance theaters, one teaching theater, three restaurants and a brand new coffee shop. The Straz Center has supplied Tampa with 26 years of cultural enrichment and is seen as a valued community partner for people living in and visiting Florida.
The Patel Conservatory provides Tampa with performing arts training by giving students the tools to discover and create performing arts skills, integrate those skills into everyday life, all while contributing to the community. The Patel Conservatory is also accredited by the Southern Association of College and Schools Council, which allows the Conservatory to advance in the pursuit of performing arts education.

In order for students to attend classes at the conservatory they need to register via a registration system. The registrar at the Straz Center must manually take student information, class information, and payment information and enter it into Tessitura, the current ticketing system that is awkwardly used for registration as well. Essentially, when students register for a class, the system recognizes it as a purchase for an event or show. This creates a number of problems. For example, if a student registers for a class and has previously purchased an event ticket, duplicate customer accounts are created, wasting valuable time and hardware space. Another problem occurs because it is difficult to identify profitable classes, forecast classes for future attendance and programming, and allocate space for other events and classes. These are the main issues with the current system, and Brad Casey feels the need to upgrade this system in order to solve these problems.

The Straz Center currently uses Tessitura as its software provider, a company specially focused on performing arts organizations, which enables them to sell tickets quickly and efficiently. It includes a fully-integrated Customer Relationship Management (CRM) module which helps organizations communicate effectively with their patrons to maximize revenue. However, the Straz Center has incorporated this system into its education and registration processes, causing administration inefficiencies. Brad Casey has identified these inefficiencies as a serious problem and has taken steps to solve it by initiating the integration of a dedicated education and registration ERP system into the organization.
The Straz Center needed a system that could integrate with Tessitura so that a more appropriate software could document and process the education clients and users.

The software must be able to:
• Allow registrar to individually register students for classes
• Provide online student portal
o Student calendar for classes
o Calendar for staff to allocate classes
o Student payment system o Grade reporting o File storage
• Reporting System o Identify profitable classes
o Forecast classes for future attendance and programming
• Billing o Student Billing
o Expense Tracking o Revenue Tracking o Budget Tracking o Scholarships
o Financial Aid and Payroll
• Student Management
o Student Evaluations o Transcripts
o Attendance/Swipe Cards
o Communication: Email, Contact Information, etc.
o Student Records
• Staff Management
o Teacher Evaluations
o Classroom Observations
o Curriculum Design/Vertical Alignment
o Orientation/Training

Request for quotes were sent out to leading software providers in the performing arts industry, such as ActiveNet, Daxko, ProClass Online, PatronManager, and Studio Class. Potential suppliers were requested to notify the Straz Center of their intention to bid. Respondents were invited to a provider conference held on July 7 through July 10 at the Barrymore Hotel in Downtown Tampa.

ActiveNet, Daxko, and ProClass Online sent representatives to present their proposals. The conference was the suppliers’ first exposure to SCG and Brad Casey. SCG started by providing a background of how the Patel Conservatory operates and how it currently uses Tessitura to act as a surrogate for a dedicated education and registration system. SCG also reiterated the functionality and requirements for the new system. The vendors presented their responses; each included a completed self-evaluation checklist, which was used by SCG as a quantitative measure for the initial functionality fit. Questions were asked at the end of each presentation in order to determine future upgrade options.

SCG and Brad Casey reviewed a combination of written proposals and presentation notes regarding each submission. Using the findings from the conference, SCG and Casey rated each vendor quantitatively through a fit analysis by assigning weights to functional criteria to obtain each providers score.

ActiveNet scored the highest and was chosen not solely based on score but also based on transaction costs, maintenance fees, and company culture.

After the selection of ActiveNet, SCG wasted no time building the implementation team. The team structure was designed to properly manage the implementation process and more importantly, allow for Tessitura and ActveNet developers to coordinate efficiently. The implementation strategy deployed the rapid iterative prototyping technique which enabled the implementation process to be divided into phases.

ERU 0 began by training the implementation team. This entailed cross-training ActiveNet and Tessitura developers on their respective systems.

ERU 1 enabled ActiveNet to build on the understanding of how Tessitura functioned within the business environment.

ERU 2 built on the lessons learned from ERU 0 and ERU 1; the teams integrated the two systems. This included modifications, restructuring of data, screen changes and documentation.

ERU 3 then focused on testing the system hardware and software to see how well it held up to real-time data processing. The go-live readiness was also assessed in this phase. A final test was conducted with a full complement of users to see how the system would perform with a full transaction load. With testing completed, the entire team was satisfied and the system went live.

Microsoft Project is project management software designed to assist in developing a plan, assigning resources to tasks, tracking progress, managing the budget, and analyzing the resource workloads. SCG used Microsoft Project to create a baseline project plan which SCG used to get approval from Brad Casey to execute the upgrade. The baseline was then used to manage the project over its duration.

MS Project also enabled SCG to assign team members to project tasks. This is important so that SCG could estimate project costs, determine team member schedules, run reports, and help with decision-making with regard to project modifications.

The software tool also enabled SCG to run End Value Management reports to measure project performance, including scope, time and cost data. SCG also ran Cost Performance Index reports which allowed SCG to estimate the projected cost of completing the project. Additionally, Schedule Performance Index reports were run so that SCG could estimate the projected time to complete the project.

In addition to all of the previous uses, MS Project enabled SCG to individually assign notes to each task, set dependencies among tasks, note over-allocation of resources, set recurring tasks, add percent completions for each task and keep track of the actual hours worked.

SCG used the closing process technique to formally accept the project or project phase and end it efficiently. The managers used the Project Charter to formally recognize the existence of a project and provide direction on the project’s objectives and management. It authorized the project managers to use organizational resources to complete the project.

A Work Breakdown Structure was used as a deliverable oriented grouping of the work involved in the project that defined its total scope. SCG used crashing, which is a technique for making costs and schedule trade-offs to obtain the greatest amount of schedule compression for the least amount of cost. SCG used fast tracking, which involves activities in parallel that you would normally do in sequence, to keep the project on track after delays.

Performance Reporting was used for running status reports and progress reports. Status Reporting was used to describe where the project stands in a specific point in time in terms of meeting scope, time, and cost goals during weekly meetings. Progress Reporting was used to describe what the project team has accomplished during a certain period at the weekly meetings.

Software Quality Function Deployment Model (SQFD) focuses on defining user requirements and planning software projects it results in a set of measurable technical product specifications and their priorities. It enabled SCG to have a clearer understanding of requirements that led to fewer design changes, increased productivity and ultimately an education and registration system that satisfied Casey’s and the Straz Center’s requirements.

Six months after the acceptance of the project SCG ran routine EVM, CPI and SPI reports from MS Project and realized that the project was over budget and would never be completed by the agreed upon deadline of December 15, 2014. After speaking with Brad Casey, it was reiterated that the most critical aspect of this project was that it would be live before year end in anticipation of using the new system for classes which would begin in January. Looking back at the issues we faced in the Executing phase of the project it was very clear why we fell behind on the schedule. There were several weeks where critical members of the team could not participate in the identification of the critical issues of the software. We were supposed to meet with the end users of the current system to document what they are currently doing in the software and then to determine what they would like to have in the new system. The registrar, who will be the main user of the new software, was out ill for several weeks with an intestinal flu that was a bit too debilitating for her to return to work. We tried to keep the project on track by conducting her interview over the phone but it was not as effective as it should have been. Rather than make assumptions or decisions as to what her requirements were for the new system, we made an informed decision to push her interview until she was back to work. After SCG reevaluated the remaining tasks we determined that the best option would be to add additional human resources to the Design and Implementation phases of the project. Below will be a detailed explanation of these reports, which are included in the Appendix.
Report on June 4th, 2014: The budget for the STRAZ Software Implementation project was determined to be $1,416,240 (BAC) at the onset of the project. However, the estimated costs to complete the project as of this date are $1,653,758 (EAC), which can be interpreted as 17% over budget based on the CPI report. The increases in costs are due to the delays in the Executing stage that created a trickle-down effect for the timing of the next ten tasks shown on the WBS. The actual analysis of what is required to complete this project has taken longer and therefore required more time to complete. The planned value (PV) for this period was $130,620 while the actual costs were $136,440. The CPI report automatically adjusts the time line of the entire project while individual tasks may remain on budget. The SPI report confirms that we are over schedule as the schedule variance shows that we are 11% behind schedule as of this date. The overall interpretation of the Earned Value Management report shows that as of this date we are over-budget by $237,518 and behind schedule by at least 40 calendar days. This would mean that the entire project would end sometime in February 2015. As stated above, implementing this system before December 31, 2014 is the most critical aspect of this new system.
Since the June report and the decision to add additional resources to the project, SCG decided to hire another programmer from ActiveNET to assist with the implementation and design phase of the project. Amanda Freidman was the best programmer that ActiveNET had to offer, and with a price tag of $450 per hour she should get the project back on track. Brad Casey agreed to her rate and she was assigned to assist with implementation and training and actually came on board during the second week of August. Although the project would end up almost $300,000 over budget, the timeline was too critical not to make this adjustment.
Report on October 15th, 2014 Having added Amanda Freidman to our project team has contributed to the projects cause of getting back on schedule. At October 15th, we have finished $1,353 (SV) less amount of work as we have finished tasks worth of $862,646 (EV) while we originally estimated that we would have finished tasks worth of $864,000 (PV). This means that we are almost fully back on schedule. However, the additional resources has caused increased costs of the project. The actual costs of finishing the tasks up until this point have been $1,072,026 (AC), which is $209,380 (CV) or 24% (CV%) higher than it was originally estimated to be. The result of this is that the project is now estimated to cost $343,747 (VAC) more than it was originally supposed to (EAC – BAC = 1,759,987 – 1,416,240). However, as of this point in time, we are estimating that the extra cost of hiring Amanda Freidman to our workforce will enable us to finish the project on schedule (December 15th), which is the critical requirement for the project sponsor, Brad Casey.
As I reflect on this past semester and go through what I have learned, I realize that basically every topic I covered is new to me. There have been so many valuable lessons during this course, but I will focus on the ones that I feel are most valuable to me personally. The project management framework basically laid the groundwork for the entire semester; it was the foundation for everything else to be built upon. The next lesson crucial for project management success is understanding the ten knowledge areas. Each skill must be fully developed because each skill is critical for a project manager to be considered competent. Obviously learning Microsoft Project was a valuable lesson because of its powerful platform and its analysis capability. Learning project success factors were valuable to me because being able to measure success is critical to prove oneself when communicating experience. I enjoyed understanding how different organizational structures can affect the management of a project. If I were to go into consulting, this knowledge would be critical. Knowing which challenges are typical during each of the five process groups is key for a PM because it prompts the individual for what to look for in order to mitigate risk. Learning Project Integration Management was key for me because of its holistic approach. I consider myself to be a holistic professional, so I identified with this technique. I consider our project to be a real world example of what would occur if the Straz Center adopted ActiveNet and implemented it. I tried to keep all of our timelines, costs, and tasks consistent with real implementations by using real Harvard case studies as examples. Quality planning is an area that is key for a project manager and for me specifically. I envision myself running technology projects in the future as I provide my skills to a future employer. Quality planning will be a component I use to address functionality, system outputs, performance, reliability and maintainability requirements. Knowing that I need to create risk response strategies at the outset of a project is another great lesson learned. This technique will enable me to save my skin if something goes wrong, which according to Murphy’s Law, will. I also appreciate knowing how to calculate the EMV for projects, which will be a part of my decision making analysis when it comes to choosing which project I undertake. Getting back to risk management, creating a risk breakdown structure is key and will also save my skin when it comes to undertaking my first project. I am grateful for your discerning nature as I reflect on the techniques you required us to learn. I fully agree that each is valuable when it comes to becoming a competent project manager. The make or buy scenario also helped as I am sure I will have to decide whether to undergo a project in-house or have it outsourced during my career. I appreciate how you required us to understand the differences between project risk management and project uncertainty management. Using uncertainty types to derive the planning, management and monitoring style is, what I feel, an advanced technique that should be understood to be competent in this profession. Again, the special topic of determining and changing the mix in product development projects in an aggregate project plan was fascinating to analyze. I see opportunities for my future that will enable me to put this knowledge to use. I, in no way, consider myself to be skilled in this dimension, yet I am grateful that I have been exposed to this content and look forward to putting the strategies into practice one day.