Course Meeting Times
Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session
This class was also offered in Course 13 (Department of Ocean Engineering) as 13.615J. In 2005, ocean engineering subjects became part of Course 2 (Department of Mechanical Engineering), and the 13.615J designation was retired.
System and Project Management (SPM) is focused on planning and managing product and system development projects. We assume that the enterprise has strategically chosen what product or system to develop, so that the course can focus on the preparation, planning, and execution of product development projects. The course is organized into four main modules.
- The first module covers traditional and advanced methods and tools of project management such as PERT/CPM, design structure matrices (DSM) and system dynamics (SD). This operational view of project management exposes the capabilities, limitations and complementary nature of SPM methods and tools.
- The second module builds on the first by considering strategic questions such as preparation and planning, product development process (PDP) selection and concurrent engineering infrastructures. Three case studies, presented by experienced guest speakers, will serve to contrast the challenges of hardware versus software centered development projects.
- The third module treats project monitoring and change as well as risk management. This includes ways of tracking resource consumption, critical paths and project progress. Corrective actions such as schedule slippage and compression as well as staffing adjustments are simulated by means of system dynamics models. Empirical factors that are known to affect project success and failure will be presented and debated.
- Finally, student project presentations will round out the course and offer an opportunity to tap into the collective experience and insights of the participants.
Course Learning Objective
The course is designed for students in the System Design and Management (SDM) program and therefore assumes that you already have a basic knowledge of project management. The objective is to introduce advanced methods and tools of project management in a realistic context such that they can be taken back to the workplace to improve management of development projects. In contrast to traditional courses on the subject we will emphasize scenarios that cannot be fully predicted such as task iterations, unplanned rework, perceived versus actual progress and misalignments between tasks, product architectures and organizations.
We plan to include discussion related to your own project management experiences. We hope to accomplish this in several ways:
- Class discussions will revolve around your experiences in industrial practice.
- We would like to steer the lecture content and focus on those aspects that interest a majority of the class beyond the standard, planned material. For this purpose the class coordinator will conduct a number of informal polls at several times during the semester.
- We welcome SDM student contributions to specific aspects of the course where you feel particularly competent or where you wish to share unusual project management experiences with your peers. Such contributions can take the form of short prepared speeches, additional readings or mini-presentations throughout the term. Please contact the course coordinator if you wish to contribute in this manner.
- The project assignment will allow you to directly apply one of the advanced methods such as DSM or System Dynamics to a development situation at your company. Alternatively, you may want to analyze in-depth the reasons for failure or success of past or ongoing complex product development projects.
- The class will meet from 3:00 to 4:30 pm Tuesdays and Thursdays. We expect students to either attend on campus or via MIT's video bridge. There is no regularly scheduled recitation.
- As your instructors, we are very anxious to be responsive to your needs. Since many students are off campus, regular office hours may not work well. Based on past experience, e-mail seems to be most effective. Please email the class coordinator first, who will bundle the comments and questions. We can follow up with phone, personal meetings or email as appropriate. We will make every effort to respond within 24 hours. If our schedules require us to be away we will keep you informed and provide alternate contacts.
- Major responsibilities have been partitioned among the instructors and TAs as follows:
- Overall course responsibility: Olivier de Weck
- Methods, tools, organizations and ICE: Olivier de Weck
- System dynamics techniques and strategic issues: Jim Lyneis
- Design structure matrix methods (DSM): Steven Eppinger (on sabbatical)
- Aerospace and Naval Case, Resource and Progress monitoring: Patrick Hale
- Integrating the content: All instructors
- Bringing your experiences into the discussion: All students
- Server, class liaison and attendance, case studies: TA
- Homeworks, grading and projects: TA
- We will use electronic communications for the class to the maximum extent possible. We plan to use the server for receiving homework and posting documents for distribution. We will also potentially use software that can be downloaded from the internet.
- Presentation charts for the current lecture will be posted on the server no later than 9:00 am the day of the class.
- Distance learning can be challenging, especially with a large group with many different sites. If you are having difficulty hearing or seeing, please speak up let us know during the class.
There will be a total of six (6) homework assignments throughout the term. The assignments are designed to reinforce some concepts from class and focus on applications of specific methods and tools. Our objective is not to make you an expert user of any particular method (e.g. PERT/CPM, DSM, SD) or particular tool (e.g. Microsoft® Office 2000). We are assuming that you will be in a leadership position at your company and that others will carry out the mechanics of maintaining project plans and documents under your supervision. Therefore, it is important that you understand the basic workings of the different methods and tools and grasp their relative advantages and limitations. The homeworks are a pedagogic means of ensuring some uniformity in achieving the learning objectives across the class that would not be guaranteed by the projects alone.
- Homeworks can be solved by pairs of two. These teams can, but don't have to be, remixed for each assignment. It is your decision whether or not to solve homeworks with members of your project team.
- The nominal per person effort for solving a homework problem is nine (9) hours. Please let us know if the homeworks are over-scoped so that we can take corrective measures. We will gather and publish anonymous time-spent statistics for each assignment.
- We do not encourage inter-team cooperation on the homeworks. If you did cooperate, you must explicitly acknowledge and reference other contributions. MIT's standard academic honesty policies and procedures apply.
- A master solution will be worked out, posted and discussed for each homework.
Class Projects Assignment
The intent of the Class Project Assignment is to allow you to explore one particular aspect of SPM in-depth in the context of your company or a general industrial setting. There is relatively large freedom in the selection of topic, choice of research method and team composition. Some examples of acceptable topics are given below:
Create and analyze a DSM model of a product development project of your choosing. You must identify a project to study, collect the data, conduct the analysis, and suggest ways that the process can be improved based on your findings.
Identify the dynamics and drivers of a real or hypothetical project. Build a system dynamics model of the project including causal loop diagrams and governing equations. Quantitatively simulate the evolution of the project and explore "what-if" scenarios. This SD model has to be different from the one used in Homework 4 and 6.
Survey of Methods and Tools
Conduct a survey of professed and actually used methods and tools (software) in system project management across a range of organizations. Compare advantages and disadvantages and distill lessons learned.
Success and Failure of a Past Project
Analyze in-depth the preparation, planning and execution of a large-scale past development project. Study historical data and conduct stakeholder interviews. Assess the degree of project success or failure against the original project objectives and identify key factors.
This list is not meant to be comprehensive. We are open to other types of projects, provided that there is a clear link to the class objective and contents.
The grading will be based on:
|Degree of Class Participation