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Project Management; The Professional Photography Association is a national organisation devoted to the promotion of professional photography and professional photography techniques Research Paper

Case Study 1 ­ The Professional Photographers Computer System
Bill Sykes the newly appointed Chief Executive of the Professional Photography Association sat at his desk, looked at his diary (28 October 2014) and pondered. He had been in position for 6 months and had always had major communication problems. A project to improve these had been instigated by his predecessor but was not yet in place. Once again he reviewed the briefing document that had been prepared for him on his appointment.

Briefing Document
The Professional Photography Association is a national organisation devoted to the promotion of professional photography and professional photography techniques. It has existed for 25 years but it is only recently that its size has expanded considerably to its present strength of over 6,000 members. The membership is comprised of Personal Members, Company Members and Training College Members (TCMs). It is a registered charity and volunteers carry out most of its work.
The membership is distributed across the United Kingdom and overseas. There are 8 branches that organise local programs of events and look after local members’ interests. In addition there are also 7 Special Interest Groups (SIGs) that concentrate on special photography techniques and interests. A company in which the organisation has a 61% interest carries out commercial exploitation of the organisation’s products. The organisation is affiliated to the International Professional Photography Association (IPPA) and carries out a leading role in many of its affairs.
The organisation has a governing body, Council (24 members), to determine overall policy and an Executive Committee (7 Members) that implements policy, handles day-to­day business and makes recommendations to Council. There are a number of committees and directorates that deal with the various business areas. A small professional unit, the Secretariat deals with all routine administration of the organisation.
Information Technology
The information management and IT facilities within the organisation have evolved over the years as it has grown and new technology has become available. Today the facilities and procedures are severely stretched and there is a major problem that a critical section of software is almost obsolete and not commercially supported. Expectations of the membership are high, the introduction of new qualifications has imposed additional loads on existing systems and piecemeal implementation of technology developments has lead to a variety of systems and procedures that do not integrate with one another. An overall information management strategy is urgently required, together with the implementation of radical new thinking and facilities for IT support.
Priorities should be as follows:
1. The core business operations
2. Interim measures to maintain continuity and take advantage of cheap, short­term solutions
3. New long ­ term strategic applications.

Where the organisation is now
1. Publications
The House Magazine is published to all members and provides the main vehicle for communication
Various technical guides on topics such as photographic equipment, artistic techniques, contracts of employment, copyright, and publicity materials.
2. Technical professional photography information
Maintenance of the photography source book, running technical conferences, seminars and road shows
The publishing of special topic guides
The provision of a small technical library
Professional qualifications programme.
These, together with the financing and running of the day¬to­day business, all require management information.
The membership of the organisation is as follows:
Class Numbers
Students and Associates 893
Members 5016
Fellows 108
Honorary Fellows 16
Company Members 96
Training College Members 6
Total 6135

These are distributed across the United Kingdom and overseas as shown in Figure 1
The 8 branches are located across the United Kingdom, and one is in the United States. The Special Interest Groups operate nationally but tend to be organised from locations depending on where the interest lies. They are all coordinated and funded centrally by the organisation shown in Figure 2.

The Council and Executive Boards meet regularly in London but the various committees, branches and SIGs meet in locations most convenient to themselves.
Central administration is carried out from a small office in Maidenhead, staffed by the Head of Secretariat and four administrators.
Good communications are critical to the organisation’s operation.
Problem areas
The main problems facing the organisation are as follows:
Size – The organisation is not yet large enough to finance significant new initiatives adequately. On the other hand it has outgrown the capacity of its original information systems and needs major new facilities for the future.
Geographical Separation – The organisation’s resources are distributed across the country, giving rise to many communication problems.
Voluntary nature of its resources – Most members and officials of the organisation are in full­time employment, often on location and cannot be accessed immediately. They also use a variety of communications facilities, many of which are not compatible with one another.
Availability of resources – The organisation cannot rely on availability or take priority on members’ time or resources.
These problem areas are compounded by an antiquated database of records, together with piecemeal IT developments that have resulted in systems incompatible with one another and are no longer adequate for the loads placed on them. Moreover the main database, although very efficient in what it does, runs under old software and there is a real danger that it will not be technically supported in the future. There is a real need for an efficient, cost effective data processing and communications system.
The major IT risk facing the organisation is the possible loss of the membership database through fire, theft or obsolescence of software. The first two items can be overcome by means of a rigorous external back¬ up policy but the obsolescence risk becomes more severe each year, as fewer people know how to use the membership database operating software.
Many of the problems above could be resolved by the implementation of a comprehensive IT strategy
Use of information and Information Technology today
The use of information by the organisation may be considered under the following main categories:
1. Operational information
The membership database
The accountancy package.
These provide the information required for administering the members on a continuous basis (but do not talk to one another). Information concerning membership numbers and the organisation’s financial position is used as an essential input to the day to day running of the organisation.
2. Information concerning events and activities
These are promoted by:
Advertisements in the house magazine
Direct mail­shots
The national press
The Association’s website.
Information in this category is required to be disseminated as a service to members and to the general public. It is usually prepared with word processing or graphics software and held as paper records.
The system is handled centrally by Secretariat and is purely manual.
3. Publicity and recruitment information for promotion purposes
Advertisements in the national press
Attendance at exhibitions
Direct recruitment through personal membership contacts.
The information required in this category is essential for the survival and growth of the organisation. It is prepared manually and distributed by mail or fax.

4. Technical information
This is held in a small technical library of books, papers and a microfiche system. There are no IT applications at present in this area. The information generated by the special interest groups is not well publicised.
Information flows

The main volume of information flows through Secretariat. This is both a strength and a weakness; it provides a central control and archiving facility but is also often a bottleneck due to lack of resources and IT expertise.
Information transfer is usually achieved by the following means:
Extensive use of telephone and personal meetings
Extensive use of mail and fax communications
Embryonic use of email (limited because only a few members have facilities)
Embryonic use of homepages on the World Wide Web.
The use of The World Wide Web medium, although potentially a major means of transmitting information to the membership and the world at large, is somewhat limited due to the small proportion of members actively using internet facilities.
Key information
The key information prepared and transmitted within the organisation is:
1. Status reports from Secretariat to Executive, Council and Branches
Minutes of meetings
Membership status reports.
2. Financial reports from Treasurer to Executive and Council
Membership revenue
Other revenue
(These take the form of formal written reports and, although much of the data is held in the SAGE accountancy package, the reports are prepared on separate Microsoft Excel spreadsheets.)
3. Formal reports from the Secretary and other officers of the organisation to Council and Executive.
(These are invariably typed on a wide variety of word processing systems and, unless prepared by Secretariat, only paper copies are stored.)
A project to overcome many of the problems outlined in the report had been the brainchild of one of the members, Jason Smith. He was an IT specialist with a particular interest in photography. His solution was based on a three pronged attack:
1.Migrate the membership database into a new Microsoft Access database. Provide a new membership billing system with electronic links to the SAGE accounting system. This would overcome the problem of obsolescence, have adequate capacity and would ensure the long term availability of operators.
2.Introduce an office network that would enable information sharing between all personnel in the office. Provide an integrated email system. This was to increase office efficiency.
3.Provide an internet based facility, which would enable the general public and the membership to access different levels of information within the Association, from anywhere in the world. Access would be controlled by means of a series of passwords. This would enable the head office staff to communicate more efficiently with one another and the membership.
Items 1 and 2 were to be implemented in time for the end of the financial year (March) and the 3 rd item was to be finished in time for the Annual General Meeting in September.
Because he was the only one who knew much about the technology, Jason’s company had been given a contract worth £22,450 to manage the project and carry out the IT implementation work. His guidelines had been to utilize existing equipment wherever possible and to minimize disruption to existing operations. Members of the Association would be responsible for the associated non­information technology parts of the project.
It was foreseen that the new facilities would enhance the Association’s worldwide image so a considerable portion of the funds had been allocated from the publicity budget, another portion had come from the accountant’s operational budget and a third portion was a special allocation authorised by Council.
Bill sensed that something might not be right. He was not an IT specialist and could not design a new system himself. He was not a project manager and had no feel for the way in which the project should be executed. He suddenly had a thought ­ was it really an IT system that was needed or a major business reorganisation assisted by a new IT system? At this point he reached for his telephone and called a well­known management consultancy for

You are the person that the Chief Executive approached for advice concerning his project. Your reaction to what he told you was such that he decided to retain your services on a more formal basis. In particular he has asked you to prepare a formal written assessment of the project.

1.Your response is to contain an analysis of the project giving advice on areas where the Chief Executive should pay particular attention and the action he should take to maximise chances of success.
(50 marks)

2.What features are missing from the case study that you might ask for if you were to audit the project at this stage?
(20 marks)

3.Identify and analyse the main risks associated with the project. What actions would you take to avoid or mitigate the effect of the risks?

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