IT 4983 capstone project guide

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Information about IT 4983 capstone project guide

Published on January 31, 2014

Author: jgzheng


IT 4983 Capstone Project Guide By Jack Zheng Last updated on Jan 10, 2014 General information IT 4983 capstone projects give students a chance to apply their knowledge and skills in a real world IT project in teams. It is a required concluding course of the BSIT degree program. General project features  Involve IT related design, development, implementation, analysis and research.  Have real world contexts, requirements, communications, and challenges.  Require students to learn and practice new knowledge and skills.  Are scoped to be finished in about 3 months, by a team of 3 to 5 people (with at least 120 hours of total project time per person).  Include both technical components and soft skill components (such as collaboration, communication, planning, research, problem definition, project management, writing, documentation, etc.). Basic project types  Development: focusing on the development of IT solutions, like web applications, mobile applications, databases, or a combination of those, to address particular business needs. Programming is NOT necessarily required. Example past projects: o Hawkeye video monitoring web application o BravePoint consultant performance dashboard  Implementation: focusing on the system implementation and administration aspect. This may include the evaluation, installation, configuration, deployment, and migration of IT systems (both hardware and software) to meet business needs. Examples of systems include operating systems, databases, network devices, communication systems, and enterprise applications. Example past projects: o CSE VMWare ThinApp deployment o CSE Lync Implementation  Analysis/Research: focusing on analyzing and documenting business and IT problems and requirements, or the collection, analysis, and reporting of data and information related to security, performance, market, etc. Example past projects: o SPSU website traffic analysis o GTA intrusion signature research and analysis o SPSU ARN network research and requirement analysis o ICS network performance testing and analysis  Hybrid: a mixture of the above. Example past projects: o ICS school intranet portal o CSE intranet portal o GTA cyber threats research and reporting system  Please visit for more project examples. Project stakeholders Stakeholder Roles/Expectations Instructor  Coordinate and manage all projects at a high level.  Provide administrative assistance.  Facilitate team communication and collaboration.  Help to provide technical and informational resources to students.  Provide feedback to project progress, team performance, reports and presentations.  Help with presentation and poster preparation. Page 1 of 4

 Project owner/sponsor Students                 Evaluate the complete project process and team performance: planning, progress report, and final report. Provide technical consultancy as requested to a certain level. Provide clear and detailed project goals and expectations. Keep communication open and give prompt feedback to students. Keep the project on track and in scope. Maintain appropriate workload and difficulty level. Communicate with the instructor on penitential issues and any possible change. Evaluate final project deliverables and student performance for the entire project. Actively participate in the team meetings and other activities. Complete assigned task on time. Contribute to the success of the group project. Embrace challenges and try to work out solutions independently. Complete milestones and reports on time. Attend required class and group meetings. Check D2L regularly for important announcements, discussions, and assignments. Submit work on time according to the course schedule or other specific requirements. Be proactive and active; keep communication well; respond to emails promptly. Learn new IT knowledge and skills if necessary. Be objective and honest when doing peer evaluations. Basic process 1. Initiation: recruit project team members and complete a project plan. This should be done within the first 3 to 4 weeks. 2. Progression: students will devote their time and efforts in completing the project as specified in the plan, and report progresses as required. There will be 2 milestone reports. 3. Conclusion: deliver the final presentation, participate in the poster session, and submit the final report package at the end of the semester. Project initiation Project recruitment/assignment The process simulates an internal recruiting process commonly adopted in many project-based consulting companies. First, a project information sheet of each project will be posted. This document briefly describes the basic project background, major work and expected outcomes, skills/knowledge involved, recommended team size, project owner information, and references. These documents will be available in the first week of the semester. Project owners will be invited to the first meeting to share more details and answer questions. Students can consult with the instructor or project owner for more detailed information. Second, students will apply to projects by submitting a brief resume and responding to a questionnaire about their background, skills, career goals, expected roles and responsibilities, learning expectations, preference of projects and team members. This should be completed in the first week. Prompt response will facilitate the recruitment process. Third, the instructor (and project owners if necessary) will assign teams and projects based on a combination of questionnaire results, project needs, project owner needs, and other factors. Team building Generally, each team consists of 3 to 5 people. Each team should have the following roles. Roles are not exclusive to each other. Any person can take on multiple roles. The assignment depends on your team size, skill sets, communication styles, and each person’s expectations.  Team leader/manager (1 person required) o Acts as the leader and manager of the team. o Needs strong leadership and project management skills. Page 2 of 4

o   Practices project management activities including organizing meetings, coordinating team activities, tracking project progress and schedule, keeping meeting minutes and activity logs, compiling and submitting required reports, etc. o Is the dedicated contacting person for the team; make timely communication with the project owner and the instructor. o Participates in all required meetings and ensures everyone is aware of the project status and plans. Technical specialist (multiple people) o Is the driving force to analyze, design, develop, and implement technical solutions. o Conducts research on concepts, technologies, products, and systems. o Provides materials to the team leader or the technical writer for all reports. Technical writer (1 person recommended) o Prepares required research reports, documentations, manuals, tutorials, references, etc. o Helps to document project-relevant learning, materials, and activities. o Prepares presentation and poster materials. Kickoff meeting The kickoff meeting (with the instructor and the project owner) should be scheduled as soon as the team and project is determined. Purposes of the meeting are:        Get to know everyone. Understand how capstone projects are organized and evaluated. Be clear about project background, scope, expectations, deliverables, and other details. Discuss and draft the project plan. Make sure everyone knows his/her role in this project. Determine communication plans and collaboration styles. Plan immediate meetings and actions following the kickoff meetings. Project plan The project plan is a very important document to define project objectives, milestones, final deliverables, collaboration plans, and schedules. A template will be provided to guide the plan development. A draft plan should be completed in the kickoff meeting and finalized (approved) by the fourth week of the semester. The plan should be confirmed and approved by both the project owner and instructor. It may be adjusted later in the semester but should be fully justified and documented. Project progression Activity report Activity reports are used to report what the team and each member has done for the past 2 or 3 weeks. A template will be provided. They also serve as activity logs and help you to track workload. There will be 5 activity reports. The report is cumulative with past activities in the same report, so the last report will record all of activities and workload for the whole semester. Milestone report There will be two milestone reports during the semester. The purpose of this report is to summarize project status, check milestone progress, report team achievements, identify changes, and plan for the next phase. There will be an oral report meeting and a written report. Schedule the report meeting with the instructor and project owner at least a week before the designated milestone report week. The team should have a draft written report ready prior to the meeting. A template will be provided. Prepare a short presentation and live demonstrations if applicable. The instructor will provide feedback to the draft report. Submit the report after modification based on feedbacks. Milestone reports should also be reviewed by the project owner. Page 3 of 4

Project conclusion Presentation and poster session A formal presentation will be delivered to IT department faculty and IAB members at the end of the project. Project owners and other guests are invited to the presentation. Department faculty and IAB members will evaluate the project based on information obtained from the presentation. The ultimate goal of the presentation is to impress the audience that you have done a good job, you have accomplished all deliverables and objectives, and you have gained valuable experience. A poster session will be organized for all teams to present their projects to the public as well. A more detailed guide will be provided later in the semester. Final project package submission All materials (progress reports, source code, documentation, references, tutorials, manuals, final report, survey, peer evaluation, etc.) should be compiled and submitted through D2L. More submission requirements will be provided separately. Project evaluation There are 90 points allocated for the project. The evaluation breakdown is shown is the following evaluation matrix. Evaluator Owner Instructor Department Peer Total Project plan, Milestone and activity reports 20 Final report Poster and presentation Overall experience 20 10 20 20 10 20 20 40 Total 20 30 20 20 90 Challenges and success factors Based on this paper (Zhang, C. and Wang, J., Effects of Communication, Leadership, and Team Performance on Successful IT Capstone Projects: A Case Study, ACM Special Interest Group for Information Technology Education Conference, SIGITE 2011, October 19 - 22, 2011, West Point, NY): 1. Effective communication 2. Effective leadership 3. Know each team member’s strengths and specialties A copy of the paper is provided in D2L. Example difficulties  Time. “This class really pushed me to my limits when it comes to learning and working. This class is no joke and should be taken with only one other class not two other classes and two jobs.”  Communication. You will get a lot more emails. Be comfortable to get emails that are copied to everyone in the team and read all them. How do you deal with large amount of communications? Be comfortable to use the “reply all” feature. Or you can find a collaboration solution that cuts down the amount of email.  How will you collaborate? Is time conflict a problem for the team?  There are new things to learn. You have never heard about something before. How do you deal with this?  Some team members may fall behind and become not so active. How to get everyone involved and motivated?  People have different strengths and weaknesses. How to best assign tasks?  The project owner or leader becomes less responsive, which may delay the project. What can you do? Note: this guide tries to provide as much information as possible. But there are always unexpected issues. Please try to communicate with the instructor if there’s any question or concern. Thank you. Page 4 of 4

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