me a half page response to each discussion post in detail. Make sure that you are responding to the post
describing what you agree with and disagree with if anything. Also, provide any alternatives if any. Tell me in detail what you like and or
dislike and explain your responses to each discussion.
Buying-in on time and materials
contracts always involves deceit, and I would consider that to always be
unethical. When the cost of a project can be reasonably estimated,
providing a lower estimate to a customer is clearly wrong, even though it is
generally understood that projects of this nature tend to run over in time and
budget. I would think a project contract written at a fixed cost would
give the customer more of a comfort level in the price estimate of the
project. It would benefit both the developer and the customer for the
estimates to be as close to accurate as possible. Additionally, the
developer would need to have confidence in their abilities that their system
would either be close to budget, or successful enough to provide future
opportunities that would outweigh the additional cost.
the first example of the case study, members of the team believe the true cost
is $75k, although the budget is only $50k. In this example, to low-ball
the price of the project would be unethical. It is up to management to
determine if the project is worth the additional $25k investment. In the
second example where a range of estimates is provided, I think the most ethical
approach would be to make the discrepancies in the estimates known to
management so the risk of surprises down the line are
reduced. Transparency into the project seems like the most ethical
approach in my opinion.
As discussed in the
book, making an estimate for an information system project can be difficult
because the full scope of the project is not known in the beginning. It’s
not until you start interviewing users and determining requirements that you
can even begin to access what is needed for the project.
When dealing with
outside vendors, this can be particularly difficult when negotiating the
contract. The outside contractor does not want to make a quote and then
find he great under estimated the project, and the company doesn’t want to agree
to an “open ended” price.
I think fairest way to
address this issue is to break the project into two parts. Allow the
contractor to define and spec the project for a set fee. Once they
understand the full scope of the project, they can then submit another quote
for the actual design of the system. For the contractor, he will have a
better handle on what is required so he will make a more informed estimate.
For the company, if the design quote is too high and you decide not to
proceed with the project, it only cost you the fee for the initial phase of the
This prevents any
unexpected surprises with projects going way over budgets and seems like an
From reading the chapters and the
ethics guide it looks to me that there are four choices when it comes to
estimations on information projects; lying, averaging, ignorance, and the “go
ahead”. Knowingly failing to disclose
information in any setting is a form of lying.
This type of behavior not only affects the performance and work ethic of
the individual but it also chinks their integrity as a person. Doing small lies over time, being
untrustworthy or even telling a lie to meet a deadline is a variance from the
truth that will only take one down the wrong path. The second option is averaging the ideas of
the team members. This can be done
honestly with discussion and openly voicing concerns. The variance in price or timeline may be
backed up by actual data or feelings but should be seen in the end as an average
of estimates and disclosed as such.
Should the company or leadership understand its position as an average
estimate and not a hard line number, then this system can be used honestly. The Third choice for estimates is ignorance
or a failure to cover all the bases.
With many estimates or projects there will be items that are overlooked
or a small voice in one’s head that gets forgotten about. These things should be accounted for on a
small scale. If the small voice is
hinting that the estimate is way off then we get into more of the lying
spectrum because more thought has gone into the idea and it is being
hidden. However, if it is a fluke or an
honest overlook then I believe it’s ethical to carry out the proposal. In this situation though, the change should
be addressed as soon as it’s discovered.
The final option in estimation is the “go ahead”. For inside jobs this can be in the form of
the project boss, leader, or key responsible member hearing the uncertainty of
the estimate and deciding it is worth the risk to carry on. In a consulting position this would be the
clients agreeing on the estimate with the notice of varied fluctuation or
hesitation in the final estimate.
All in all, honesty does count in
this system but does not excuse poor work on the research end in coming up with
the estimate. Many projects are
difficult, if not impossible, to estimate but should still be given due
diligence and treated ethically.
I think the ideal, most ethical way
to proceed with IS project estimation is to have all costs known right up
front. No one will be entering into the agreement with less-than-full
knowledge, and no one will end up feeling deceived when previously unmentioned
costs are finally revealed. Banks, realtors and some car dealers are finding
that consumers really appreciate truth-in-lending or true-cost statements
before they enter into contracts. The same would surely be true for managers
looking for IS contractors to upgrade the company’s system.
But the ideal may not be possible in
many cases. There are probably IS projects that end up costing more than anyone
initially thought, and this is where the company benefits by having signed a
fixed-cost contract. The contractor, however, loses in this case because he/she
will be eating much of the previously unknown costs. In some instances, this
can be attributed to contractor error or inexperience in estimating. In other
cases, there was no way for the contractor to foresee the added expenses before
beginning the project. When this happens, I’d argue that it might be somewhat
unethical for the company to not cover the added costs.
A manager entering into a
time-and-materials contract, knowing full well that the time and materials are
really going to increase the estimate, is acting unethically toward his/her
company. It demonstrates a lack of regard for stewarding the company’s
resources and will likely end up badly for the manager, especially if the added
costs are high. For in-house projects where there is a difference of opinion on
a project’s cost, I think it is unethical to proceed without doing more
research on cost. Again, this shows poor stewardship of resources and laziness
on the decision-maker’s part.
After reading the text, ethics guide
and thinking about my own involvement with my company with the “merits of
different merit estimation alternatives for information system projects”, this
is a very gray area for a lot of beliefs, and I fully believe that ethics play
a huge role in it.
I wanted to comment on two of the
differences in the ethics case from the text, the example with three different
costs, and the project manager going to leadership with the possible budget
overage and seeking approval to move forward. When I think about the three
different cost scenarios, I think the best direction would be to analyze each
of the pieces to check for validity and which is realistically the best
option. I am not a fan of “sand-bagging” results, and would rather see the
worst case scenario with all possible options to ensure I am making a sound
decision, and to not have this would be unethical and definitely would look bad
on the approving party, it might get over-looked somewhat if the project is
deemed successful, but still held in the back of the mind of senior
leadership. The second option where the PM goes to the senior manager and
delivers the news in regards to the project that, “I think there may be other
costs, but I know that $50,000 is all we’ve got. What should I
do?” (Kroenke, pg.252-253) In the long-run, this might be the most
viable option to ensure that you have the complete buy-in from the senior
leadership. Honestly, it depends on the situation and your
leadership. Will they take one for the team as the leader, or throw you
under the bus? These are also ethical issues that need to be taken into
consideration when estimations are presented for an information system.
In my own organization, I am
currently working on a project that I am building a business Proforma and
including a 5-yr ROI (Return on Investment) for a large call center department
that is updating their Contact Center Suite to a more Cloud based
alternative. This new Information System can potentially be used system
wide, but where the caveat comes in, is the complete buy-in of other
departments. After completing the project, the ROI makes sense for this
department to complete, as it will save hundreds of thousands of dollars
starting in year 2, but where the ethics come in, and where I am reliant on my
business partners to a degree is “actual cost” of the project. I am basing
a number of my assumptions on their estimates as they are the “experts” and
there is certain information I am not privy too. So if the analysis ends
up wrong or the savings are not real savings, is it my fault, the business
partners or both? Ethics plays a huge factor in this, and I personally
find them to be ethical.
In conclusion, there are many
ethical issues involved in each alternative and “project cost” option route to
take. The route to start down a road knowing the cost is incorrect and
worrying about the consequ3ences later once you prove the benefits, which is
risky, or the route to present a budget and if the needs change, then present
to the senior leadership. The first is high-risk (high reward) or the
latter is the safer route that may end up causing more frustration because the
project may get turned down or shelved to a much later date. In business
we must take risks, but there is a domino effect that someone with a family
might not be willing to take.