Project Management of the E-commerce Website


Prepare a case study report on topic,"Critical analysis of how a project was/is being managed."


Executive Summary

The paper analyses the project management that was conducted to establish an e-commerce website for a retail organization. The retail organization was into offline sales through distribution channels, but due to the change in business pattern after the advent of technology, the management decided to foray into the online medium. This endeavour required the organization to set up its server, a mobile application for two platforms (iOS and Android), and an e-Commerce website. The IT Head of the organization was assigned as the project manager for the whole development. The project launched successfully after few delays and cost increment. The reason for the increase in time and cost was the poor management of the certain aspect of the project. On one hand where the risk management was appreciable, on the other, the human resource management and the communication management was below par.

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The report has been prepared to analyse the project management of the e-commerce website and mobile application development for the Company X. The company deals in retail sales of men’s clothes. The whole report will analyse each of the elements that were involved in the management, such as time, cost, and human resources. The chapter on project background will give brief detail about the completed project and the resources that were utilised to complete the project. It also describes the reason behind the project establishment and the objective the project tried to attain.
The chapter on critical analysis will analyse the whole project management based on certain factors. The chapter has been divided into eight sections, where each section analyses the eight different areas of the project. The section on project scope assesses whether the scope was within the requirement and whether the objective has been achieved. The section on project time management analyses how the project timeline had been managed and what could have been done to bring further improvement. The section on project cost management analyses the cost that was incurred to complete the project and the steps that could have been utilised to improve the management of the cost. The section on quality management analyses the quality of the whole project result and the areas that could have improved further. The section on human resource management analyses the way the whole project team was managed and the loopholes that could have been handled while efficient and effective management of the whole team members. The section on communications management details on how the members of the team communicated with each other and with the upper management during the project and the areas that could have improved to bring effectiveness in the communication. The section on risk management assesses the methods that were applied to handle the expected and unexpected risks and the way it could have been improved. The section on procurement management explains the resources that were procured and suggested methods to successful procurement. The last two chapters give conclusions and recommendations on the whole project.

Project Background

The Company used to deal in offline retail sales of men’s clothes. The changes in the market conditions and advent in technology led to the realisation that the company can benefit more if it harnesses the improved method for customer access (Baumol, 2013). The online platform can give the company access to wide range of customers, even to those who cannot be reached through physical methods (Datta, 2010). At the beginning of the project, the company stated that it has enough monetary stability to afford an online e-commerce business. The company used in-house staffs from the Information Technology department along with a web-developer who was hired on a temporary basis. The company set up its server, and thus called one more technical person from outside of the company. 
Along with the e-commerce website, the company realised the need for a mobile application for better customer engagement, and thus hired two mobile developers, one for Apple Operating System and another for Android (Serrano, Hernantes and Gallardo, 2013).

Critical Analysis

The whole project has been analysed by looking into each of the elements separately. Each of the section focuses on the areas that were covered during the project management and areas that could have improved. 
Project Scope 250
The project scope of the whole project was stated as under:

  • i)    Development of mobile application for Apple Operating System and Android Operating System by January 15, 2016.

  • ii)    Development of an e-Commerce website by January 15, 2016

  • iii)    Setting up a stable server with 99.99% uptime by December 20, 2015.

Mentioned below are the project deliverables:

  • i)    Progress Report

  • ii)    Report on Issues

  • iii)    Documentation of weekly meetings

  • iv)    The final products


The scope of the project has been based on SMART, but it has not properly stated the scope. The deliverables could have been more. At the time of formulating deliverables, the project manager could have broken down the whole project into smaller chunks, only then project manager could have realised the actual deliverables (Dinsmore and Cabanis-Brewin, 2011). 
Moreover, the project scope does not mention the team members who are involved in the project. It shows the lack of stakeholder analysis. The project is not specific on what configuration will be used for the server and the methods that will be employed to develop the applications. Thus, it lacks on SMART development of the project scope.
Along with that, any timeline has not been stated. Only the final date has been mentioned that gives no specific explanation of what milestones will be what date. A preliminary risk could also be added to the scope which is not present here, thus giving no insight into the risk that has to be studied (Dinsmore and Cabanis-Brewin, 2011). The project scope also does not include the budget that is the important part of the whole project. 

Project Time Management

Project time states each process against the time that will be utilised to complete the same. Mentioned below is the timeline that had been planned by the company:

The project timeline had been divided into various modules where each task was estimated to finish on a certain date. The dates and deliverables state what tasks will be finished by the certain date. 


The project timeline that had been defined by the project manager lacks enough detail. It does not explain the critical paths or the tasks that require special attention (Lewis, 2007). Moreover, the project time management was very different in actual than what was planned. The reason was the lack of correct forecasting (Lewis, 2007). The time estimated for the development of server took longer than usual time due to the late procurement of the required resources. Moreover, due to the poor estimation of the budget, the company failed to kick-start the development of iOS well on time. These all activities eventually impacted the final launch of the eCommerce platform and the mobile application. Instead of considering various other factors of project development in a holistic manner, the project manager has displayed myopic view project time management. Along with that, the poor management of work timings also impacted the overall output (Lewis, 2007).

Project Cost Management

The cost management of the project was not as per standard and thus, in the end, the total cost jumped by 25% of the estimated. The project cost management lacked any specific cost control measures, and thus, the cost moved beyond what was planned. The inability of the project manager to complete the project on time contributed significantly to the cost increase. Moreover, there were some estimation errors such as the cost of setting up the server was estimated far below the actual material and labour costs. The lack of any contingency budget can be attributed to the increase in the cost and thus the project delay (Wysocki, 2004). The cost was not structured as it should be according to the P3 budget format, that is, the base cost estimate, contingency budget, and then management reserve. Mentioned below are the issues that were faced during the cost management:

  • i) Inability to Forecast: The project management failed to consider enough detail in the project requirement and project deliverables (Wysocki, 2004). This led to the missing of elements that had to be included as per the cost estimation but was left out.

  • ii) Improvement Areas: The project manager failed to see the areas that could be further improved by the project completion. Thus, the project manager failed to see the cost that could be incurred if the further improvement is sought (Wysocki, 2004). For instance, the development of server and mobile apps required constant testing and improvements, which calls for more cost. 

  • iii) Reliance on Fixed Budget: The project manager relied on the fixed budget format and considered it to be unchangeable in any circumstances. This false consideration shrunk the way the whole project should have been looked upon (Wysocki, 2004), and thus any normal deviation in the project function led to the disturbance in the project total cost structure.

Project Quality Management

The quality of the project management was appreciable as the whole project was developed by keeping in purview how the customers will appreciate the end product. The project manager focused on understanding the requirements and expectations of the customers, evaluated the feasibility of the requirements with the analysis team. After that, the project manager defined the project results. Moreover, the project was focused on preventing any issues before occurrence rather than inspecting it in the later stage. The project team was focused on continuously improving the project based on the requirements through testing and application of changes. Management was also supportive while the project was ongoing, as they provided necessary support regarding cost and leverage in time even when the project crossed the estimated cost and time. The project manager also focused on the documenting the lessons that were learned throughout the project quality management regime. It included the factors that led to the variances and the rationale for implementing the changes. The lessons that were documented all along the projected are likely to help in the future when implementing any changes (Snedaker and Rogers, 2006). The management had to bring huge changes to the testing and quality control due to the lack of the prior investment in the investigations. The project manager should have spent quality time on understanding the issues that faced by project team while conducting the work (Snedaker and Rogers, 2006). This could have been done by analysing other businesses in the same industry, and the methods they adopted while implementing the system (Snedaker and Rogers, 2006).

Project Human Resource Management

The management of the human resource within the project was quite difficult and brought various challenges to the project manager. Mentioned below are the challenges that were faced by the project manager:

  • i) Most of the time the few of the team members did not pay any heed to the project manager and kept on doing what they intended to. This unnecessarily delayed the project time and cost. The inability of the project manager to handle the team successfully led the members to assume that the manager is incompetent, and thus they indulged what felt right.

  • ii) The existence of communication issues was also bringing dissatisfaction among the team members. Most of the members were not aware of the extent of their responsibility and the limits. Instead of regular meetings, the meetings used to take place once for a while, that too on the desire of the project manager. 

  • iii) The project manager was unable to handle the employees from a different culture that sometimes led to the conflict in the workplace. The employees who were outsourced from the outside were not aware of the work culture of the company and thus often felt distracted and confused. The project manager had no understanding of what actions should be taken to eliminate such conflict. 

The project manager should have stayed close with the team members and carefully listened to what the team wants to say. Most of the time feedback from the time helps in resolving most of the technical and non-technical issues.

Project Communications Management

The communication management was not significantly handled within the team and with the higher management. As the project manager that was assigned to the project was also the IT head of the organization. Therefore, the project was partially involved in the core responsibilities as well. The project manager had to involve at three levels at the time of project management. They are:

  • i) Most of the time management brought instant changes in the project deliverable, for instance, the change in the server configuration was demanded by the management without consulting the project manager. Moreover, the project manager was not in the position to suggest any change as it could not have been accepted by the management. 

  • ii) The project resources were brought from the outside. Therefore, the project manager had to communicate with outside parties and understand their requirement. This also brought few challenges regarding on-time delivery of the project materials. 

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The project manager was unable to distribute the information equally among all team members. Moreover, the tools and techniques that were employed for the communication were not significant. The reason behind such distracted communication was the lack of proper planning of the communication. 
Mentioned below are the challenges that this project management faced:

  • i) The project plan missed giving proper attention to planning the project communication.

  • ii) The messages sent were not catered according to the individual understanding.

  • iii) The project manager had to look after the information technology in between, that is, handling the duty of IT head as well as the duty of project manager.

  • iv) Due to the outsourced employees, the project manager was facing difficulty in effectively communicate with the external staffs.

Project Risk Management 

The project manager faced myriad of challenges while conducting the whole project. However, the overall project risk was managed successfully in the following manner:

  • i) The project risk management was added in the beginning to assess and understand the likely issues that might erupt while handling the project. Initially, the project manager was confident that there are almost negligible chances of risks, however, when the project moved further, the need for risk management was felt. Thus, the project manager built steps that could counter the expected risks.

  • ii) The early identification of the project risks were the main goals of project manager. This helped in weeding out most of the issues, such as on-time delivery of most of the resources, and management of staff work schedules.

  • iii) The project manager always communicated about the expected risks to the higher management. This set the expectations of the management from the project manager. However, the project manager’s failure in communicating the same to the subordinates sometimes led to the occurrence of challenges, such as the inability of the employees to understand the risk and act well on time (Pinto, 1998).

  • iv) The project manager considered both threat and opportunities that could arise when conducting the project. On one hand, where the unexpected events result in challenges, if taken into another perspective, same change can lead to opportunities. The project manager understood this well and utilised this to the advantage of the project.

  • v) Instead of listing down the risks and assuming that the task has been done from the project manager side was not the viable element for the project success. Therefore, the project manager also assigned who will be responsible for the particular project risks, if faced. 

  • vi) The project manager prioritised the project risks based on the impact they could have on the project. This helped project manager in acting on the risks based on the assumed impact (Snedaker and Rogers, 2006).

  • vii) All the risks were analysed before substantiating any action. The project manager spent considerable time project risks, instead of jumping directly to the conclusions. 

  • viii) Instead of acting after the risk has impacted the project, the project manager always tried to minimise the occurrence of the risks. This was possible due to the development of a proper risk response plan.

  • ix) Instead of keeping the project risks to the plan, the project manager documented all the expected risks. This helped in the easy consultative document for the whole team and higher management. (Pinto, 2006) Moreover, the project manager focused on documenting all the risks those were likely to occur, and those occurred at the time of project management process. This will help the organization in future project management and risk handling endeavour. 

  • x) The risk register that was developed by the project manager helped in tracking the risks on a daily basis. This helped in assessing the risks that took place and risks that are more likely to take place. 

Project Procurement Management

The project procurement management confines to the processes those are concerned with the purchase of the materials or services from the external project team (Lindstrom, 2014). The project procurement of the project manager followed the below-mentioned steps:

  • i) Preparing the plan for Procurement: The project manager documented the requirements that were necessary for the project completion, and then defined the sellers who will be contacted for the procurement of the mentioned materials.

  • ii) Procurement: The next step involved procuring the materials from the sellers that were defined in the initial step. It included contacting with various sellers for quotation, selecting one most suitable, and then awarding the contract for the materials.

  • iii) Administering: This step included considering the actual materials received against the requirement that was sent. It calls for necessary changes that are required for the administration of the proper quality materials.

  • iv) Closing the Procurement Process: This step occurred when the project manager realised that the actual material has been procured and the necessary payment has been made.


The project management for the development of a server, an e-Commerce site, and mobile application for two operating systems completed while facing few challenges. The project manager’s overall performance can be considered as good. However, there are multiple areas that required improvements, for instance, detailed planning, and communication management. Moreover, the project plan was not developed with consultation from the subordinates Thus it lacked certain inputs such as the time each member can spend on successful completion of each milestone, and others. The project management failed to stand on time and cost estimates that delayed the whole project’s targeted launch. 
However, the best thing about this project management was the risk management, as it helped the project manager in acting well before any unexpected events and thus somehow the project completed with quality output.


It is recommended that the planning of the project should take place thoroughly. Moreover, the project manager should involve all the concerned for the planning which can help in getting various important inputs. The project should always be given leverage on time so that it can tackle any unnecessary risks or changes that call for more time (Wysocki, 2004). It will also help in maintaining the cost, and then the project manager does not have to waste more time on getting approval from the management for more budget or time expansion.
The project managers should have focused on proper management of the conflict among the employees, those who were from the organization and those who were hired from outside (Pinto, 1998). Moreover, the communication should have been proper. This helps in reducing the challenge that is faced while proper management (Pritchard, 2004). A proper communication ensures that all the team members are well aware of what is happening in the project and how their work is contributing to the overall project development (Pritchard, 2004). The project managers should have done regular meetings with the team members.

List of References

  • Baumöl, Ulrike. "E-commerce - Der Kunde Ist Im Netz". CON 25.6 (2013): 281-283. Web.

  • Datta, Pratim. "A Preliminary Study Of E-commerce Adoption In Developing Countries". Information Systems Journal 21.1 (2010): 3-32. Web.

  • Dinsmore, Paul C, and Jeannette Cabanis-Brewin. The AMA Handbook Of Project Management. New York: American Management Association, 2011. Print.

  • Lewis, James P. Fundamentals Of Project Management. New York: American Management Association, 2007. Print.

  • Lindstrom, Diana L. Procurement Project Management Success. Plantation, FL: J. Ross Pub., 2014. Print.

  • Pinto, Jeffrey K. The Project Management Institute. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1998. Print.

  • Pritchard, Carl L. The Project Management Communications Toolkit. Norwood, MA: Artech House, 2004. Print.

  • Serrano, Nicolas, Josune Hernantes, and Gorka Gallardo. "Mobile Web Apps". IEEE Softw. 30.5 (2013): 22-27. Web.

  • Snedaker, Susan, and Russ Rogers. Syngress IT Security Project Management Handbook. Rockland, MA: Syngress Pub., 2006. Print.

  • Wysocki, Robert K. Project Management Process Improvement. Boston: Artech House, 2004. Print.

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