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GEOG 871 - Geospatial Technology Project Management

This is a sample syllabus.

This sample syllabus is a representative example of the information and materials included in this course. Information about course assignments, materials, and dates listed here is subject to change at any time. Definitive course details and materials will be available in the official course syllabus, in Canvas, when the course begins.


Geospatial Technology Project Management (3) Principles of effective project management applied to the design and implementation of geospatial information systems.

In GEOG 871, we will take a critical look at geospatial project management. Project management is a broad discipline that encompasses both technical methods such as system design and analysis, and interpersonal factors that affect professional relationships. Project management is also a discipline that has matured outside of, but can be incorporated into geospatial technology.

By the end of this course, students will have devised a project plan from a scenario built upon a real-life project involving the City of Metropolis geodatabase design and development--with work performed in a cooperative effort of the City's project team and team of a hired contractor. You will prepare a project charter, a document that provides the City's foundation for the project, and project plan elements that define work to be carried out by the City and contractor: scope, schedule, budget, quality management, and risk management. Sounds daunting? Don't worry, we'll work through each of these components in an organized and logical manner over the next ten weeks.


Lesson 1: Introduction to Project Management

  • Understand what a project is, and the difference between a project, a program, and a product.
  • Grasp the relationship between a project's objectives and the mission and goals of the organization for which the project is being carried out.
  • Describe project management and its key elements.
  • Characterize the organizational and business context of a project (project team, stakeholders, business requirements).
  • Recognize the factors that contribute to an effective project plan and management approach.

Lesson 2: Organizational System, Project Life Cycle, Processes, and Procurement

  • Describe organizational systems, structures, boundaries, and the roles of users, sponsors, and stakeholders within and outside of the organization.
  • Recognize the phases of a project life cycle, highlighting the unique context of GIS projects.
  • Describe the five project management process groups and how each occurs within each project phase.
  • Understand the role and approach for managing project-related procurements of products and services.
  • Appreciate the role of procurements for products and services in the context of GIS projects.

Lesson 3: Strategic Planning, Scope, and Project Charter

  • Understand how GIS projects and GIS use should address an organization's mission and business needs
  • Describe how strategic planning should influence projects undertaken by an organization.
  • Define the scope of a project and its relationship to deliverables.
  • Understand how to identify project benefits and prepare a convincing business case justification.
  • Describe the importance, use, and design of a project charter.

Lesson 4: The Human Factor and Communication

  • Understand human resource issues associated with personnel assignment, loading and leveling;
  • Create and use appropriate human resource tools, such as project organizational charts and resource/responsibility matrices;
  • Understand how client and contractor team members work together to complete project deliverables
  • Grasp the importance of individual motivation, skills, and personality types in assembling and managing project teams; and
  • Describe communication planning, and the best use of communication skills, tools, and technology.

Lesson 5: Project Work Planning and Scheduling

  • Develop skills to describe how a project scope is addressed through an organized set of tasks.
  • Describe the importance, use, and design approaches of a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS).
  • Understand task relationships and factors that impact task and project timing.
  • Describe the Gantt chart's use as a tool to help visualize planned project tasks or task schedule status.
  • Acquire basic familiarity and skills with the use of project management software.

Lesson 6: Project Resource and Cost Estimation

  • Describe the basic principles and concepts of cost management.
  • Describe key inputs into cost estimates and budgets.
  • Assign resources (team labor time and monetary costs) to project tasks.
  • Understand earned value management (EVM) as a means to track and manage project resources.

Lesson 7: Project Quality Management

  • Understand the meaning of quality in the context of GIS projects and deliverables
  • Understand the differences between quality planning, quality assurance, and quality control, and describe where each fits into the project life cycle
  • Appreciate the specific quality parameters associated with typical GIS projects and deliverables
  • Describe the history, techniques, and tools of quality control and management and cite organizations that develop and promote quality standards
  • Understand the key processes and steps involved in quality management in GIS projects
  • Describe aspects of GIS projects that require special attention to quality

Lesson 8: Project Risk Management

  • Understand the purpose and basic concepts of risk management and how it is a part of project planning and execution
  • Learn how to identify and categorize project risks
  • Prepare a risk management matrix including assignment of levels of risk impact and probability
  • Understand risk response strategies from the PMI (avoidance, mitigation, transference, and acceptance)
  • Carry out a risk analysis including a detailed risk analysis, identification of triggers, and specific risk response actions
  • Get familiar with the concepts of "change management" (the "first cousin" of risk management)

Lesson 9: Integration

  • By the end of this lesson, you should be able to understand how all project components, covered in previous lessons, fit together and establish a well-coordinated and efficient environment for successful project execution.

Lesson 10: Project Plan

  • Prepare a project plan that addresses all PMI "knowledge areas."
  • Discuss effective execution of a project plan.
  • Describe how the system view of an organization and integrated change control processes are important to GIS project managers.

Required Materials

The materials listed here represent those that may be included in this course. Students will find a definitive list in the course syllabus, in Canvas, when the course begins.

Required Materials

Croswell, P. (2022). The GIS Management Handbook, 3rd Edition, Kessey Dewitt in association with URISA, ISBN-13: 978-0982409305

The The GIS Management Handbook, 3rd edition is available in hardcopy through URISA at the URISA Books page. You can order it online at this site. You may need to contact URISA to get a discount code to allow purchase at the academic discount price of $80. A digital version of this book can be purchased at the Croswell-Schulte website. The academic price is $80 (select this option in the dropdown list provided).

Optional Materials

While not required for this course, you might consider reading or purchasing the Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (7th Edition) (ISBN-13: 978-1628256642), which is available to purchase from the Project Management Institute ( an online version of the text is available at no cost as a Penn State Library E-Book.




We have worked hard to make this the most effective and convenient educational experience possible. How much and how well you learn is dependent on your attitude, diligence, and willingness to ask for clarifications or help when you need them. We are here to help you succeed. Please keep up with the class schedule and take advantage of opportunities to communicate with us and with your fellow students. You can expect to spend an average of 12 – 15 hours per week on class work.

Major Assignments

  • 8 Project Assignments: 80% of total course grade
  • 6 Discussions: 10% of total course grade
  • 6 Quizzes: 10% of total course grade

Course Schedule

Course Schedule
1Introduction to Project Management
  • Participate in Week 1 Discussion Forum
  • Assignment #1, Part 1: Begin report on a project and its fit to an organization’s mission. Due (with Part 2) at the end of Week 2
2Organizational System, Project Life Cycle, Processes, and Procurement
  • Participate in Week 2 Discussion Forum
  • Assignment #1, Part 2: Complete report on a project and its fit to an organization’s vision (complete and submit Parts 1 and 2) at the end of Week 2
3Strategic Planning, Scope, and Project Charter
  • Participate in Week 3 Discussion Forum
  • Complete Quiz 1
  • Complete and submit Assignment #2 (Project Charter)
4The Human Factor and Communication
  • Participate in Week 4 Discussion Forum
  • Complete Quiz 2
  • Complete and submit Assignment 3 (Assemble Project Team) by the end of Week 4
5Project Work Planning and Scheduling
  • Participate in Week 5 Discussion Forum
  • Complete Quiz 3
  • Begin Assignment #4 (Work Breakdown Structure and Gantt Chart)
6Project Resource and Cost Estimation
  • Participate in Week 6 Discussion Forum
  • Complete Quiz 4
  • Complete and submit Assignment #4 (WBS Structure and Gantt Chart)
  • Complete Assignment #5 (Project Budget) for submission on the start day of Lesson 7
7Project Quality Management
  • Complete Quiz 5
  • Begin (Team) Assignment #6 (Quality Management Plan)
8Project Risk Management
  • Complete Quiz 6
  • Complete and submit Assignment #6 (Team Assignment): Quality Management Plan
  • Start Assignment #7 (Team Assignment): Risk Management
  • Complete and submit Assignment #7 (Risk Management)
  • Begin Assignment #8 (Create an Integrated Project Plan), due at the end of Week 10
10Project Plan
  • Complete and Submit Assignment #8: Create an Integrated Project Plan