The increasing impact of human activities on climate has resulted in the widespread recognition and importance of sustainable practices. This has increased the burden on organizations to shift their effective performance measures from financial performance to more sustainable performance (Martens & Carvalho, 2017). As Carvalho & Rabechini (2017) mentioned, strategies which only emphasize the importance of shareholder value are no longer consider viable. Such changes in business practices are necessary considering that corporations, through daily operations of their value chain create societal and social impact which is both positive and negative in nature. The mutual dependence of society and corporations illustrates that business practices should follow the shared values which benefit both sides.
The most adopted definition of sustainability states that it is the ability of society to provide for the current needs of its members without compromising the future generation’s ability to meet theirs. Moreover, from an organizational view, it implies adopting such business activities and strategies which meet stakeholder and the business needs while safeguarding, improving and supporting the natural and human resource for the future (Silvius, 2016). The increasing number of infrastructure projects in Australia and throughout the world necessitates a better understanding of sustainability and its compliance in project management. The professional bodies of project management realized the prominence of sustainable practices quite early on. For instance, in the Project Management Institute’s (PMI) Global Congress comprehensively articulated the implications of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) for project managers (Russel, 2008).
However, compliance with sustainable principles in the construction industry is not without its own challenges. Here, the challenges for project managers while adhering to sustainability principals is analysed with respect to the Sydney Metro project. The said project is currently the largest public transport project in Australia with a cost of up to $22 billion and includes the construction of more than 66 kilometres of metro rail and 31 metro stations across Sydney (NSW, n.d.). Considering the scale of the project it is evident that the project managers will run into numerous issues throughout the development process. Though, before analysing the implications of adherence with sustainability principles in the given project, it is important to understand whether such a function should be undertaken by project managers or not. While addressing the same question, Martens & Carvalho (2016) mentioned project managers need to take a wider view of their responsibility when it comes to the result of their project, including the impact of the project on the environment.
However, the PMBOK guide, while mentioning the criteria for a successful project refers to time, cost, risk and resources of the project and fails to recognize the environmental and social aspects of the project success. In addition to this, the guide also excludes typical sustainability stakeholders, such as non-government organizations; human rights groups and environment protect groups, from the project communication management. In project risk management of the guild also does not mention social and/or ecological risks. However, the PMBOK guide does make implicit references to sustainability principles throughout the project life cycle. According to the analysis, it can be suggested that sustainability principles are not fully integrated into the PMBOK guide, but Kivila, Martinsuo & Vuorinen (2017) mentioned it is becoming the key element of a successful project and should be taken into account by project managers. Moreover, since project managers control the allocation of resources forms the inception to the ultimate disposal of the project, they can instil a life cycle mentality into the project. Also, the PMI’s code of ethics and professional conduct states that project decisions should be aligned with the best interest of environment, society and public safety. Thus, adherence to sustainability principles in project management is the responsibility of project managers (Daneshpur & Takala, 2017).
In terms of challenges in the said project, the initiation of the project was in coherence with the best sustainable practices as it had a clear vision of sustainable infrastructure delivery. Consequently, the project has been established to minimize environmental impact such biodiversity conservation, land use integration and waste management.
However, Silvius (2016) claimed that the distinctive natural topographies of cities/urban areas usually take their form from the overall natural environment, and therefore, the key problems related to sustainability are largely determined by the characteristics of the regional ecosystem. This also includes economic development and the level of income as the population climbs out of poverty. As a result the nature of the environmental problem changes which cannot be predetermined as becomes a problem for project managers. Furthermore, since the project is spread across a wide region it has to deal with the idiosyncratic features of a distinct region. In this respect, the diverse spatial dimensions of the sustainable issue in cities spatial features govern who is affected and in which manner, along with the impact’s severity.
This requires an appropriate level of decision making and level of responsibility to solve novel problems which can be a challenge for project managers of the Sydney metro project. Another challenge or vulnerability in the Sydney metro project is related to the role of local stakeholders and authorities. Uribe, Ortiz-Marcos & Uruburu (2018) suggested that the overall environment of an area is largely governed by the numerous interactions of various private, household and public actors who have a significant impact on the environmental issues and their solutions. This entails a sound relationship of involved stakeholders and adequate infrastructure. Ensuring such requirements in the project will also present a challenge. It can be said that the project ensures compliance with sustainability practices however there are some environmental vulnerabilities which can present a challenge to project managers. Apart from these key issues, the project manager will also have to deal with residual land use, property acquisition and the direct impact on other infrastructure during construction including Sydney Trains property and utilities. Moreover, changes in project scope can also increase the demand for resources like water, electricity, land and diesel during construction which can be difficult to moderate and will increase the environmental impact of the project.
Project scope refers to the statement which describes the objectives of the project, along with the expected deliverables, limitations, assumptions and dependencies. Developing the project scope during the early stage of project planning is one of the most important steps in project development. Kerzner (2017) mentioned that developing the project scope entails creating a list of everything which is required to create the necessary framework of the project, namely, the project goals, features, tasks, costs, deliverables, functions and deadlines. Developing the project scope or project scope management ensures that every key aspect of the project is precisely planned and well-defined, which enables the project manager to effectively allocate proper costs and labour required for complete the project. According to Corvello, Javernick-Will & Ratta (2017) project managers should exactly know what has to do in the project before initiating it. Detailing every aspect of the project’s scope is important as a project manager has a collection of resources and effective scope management helps to properly allocate them.
According to Ozguler (2016), very few projects even complete with original budgets and plans. In project management, unforeseen changes are inevitable, however, by proper planning during the initial stage of the project and project scope development, the impact of such changes can be drastically minimized. Improperly managed project scope can harm projects in a severe manner, resulting in budget overruns, missed deadlines and project failures. In fact, the Global PPM survey by PwC reports that mid-project scope changes (41%), and poor estimates in the planning phase (39%) are the 2 biggest reasons for the failure of projects. Furthermore, the authors’ claim that changes in the project do not necessarily mean project failure, as long as, the initial scope is extremely well defined. By doing so, one can effectively manage project changes and can deliver the project successfully (Portny, 2017).
In addition to this, Abyad (2018) mentioned that defining the scope of the project in a clear, attainable and specific manner is the key to capital project management success. By investing the effort and time at the beginning of the project, before deadlines and costs pile up, can effectively facilitate the removal of roadblocks during project execution and can keep the project on track in respect of budget and time. Moreover, failure to effectively define what constitutes the part of the project can also result in the execution of unnecessary work which can adversely affect the projects, budget and schedule. Also, Amoatey & Anson (2017) mentioned that changes in the project get more and more costlier as the project moves further into the project phases or life cycle. This is so mainly because late changes in the project involve reversing previous decisions which can make the previous work obsolete. Therefore, ensuring that the project’s scope is properly defined is always the best way to avoid unnecessary budget overrun.
Okosun (2018) mentioned that without the well-defined scope of the project, stakeholder involved in the project execution can lose sight of what is it that they are striving to achieve. Most of the researchers in project management literature consider the quality, time and satisfaction of stakeholders as the key factors which drive the success of the project. Moreover, most of the projects fail to provide stakeholder satisfaction and exceed allocated budget and deadlines mainly because of a lack of clear definitions. As a measurable concept, the project scope has been considered as either a factor or criterion, and some researchers even suggest that clearly defined objectives and goals are a verified dimension for the success of the project. In addition to this, Papke- Shields & Boyer-Wright (2017) further claimed that a rigorous scope is a necessary factor for meeting the needs of the owner and to realize project success.
According to the authors, management of project scope is necessary to mitigate the likelihood and effect of scope creep. Scope creep or requirement creep is the technical term for referring to the way project requirements tend to increase over the lifecycle of the project. It is typically caused by the requirement changes made by key stakeholders or even by disagreements and internal miscommunication. Such changes in the project scope are associated with stakeholder dissatisfaction, project overruns and unmet deadlines. Pheng (2018) cites that a lack of depth and clarity in the original requirement document is the key reason for scope creep down the line. Portny (2017) while recommending best practices to avoid scope creep mentioned that project managers should make sure that the project scope is well defined and that work which is not included in the project’s scope should not be included in the schedule.
The main advantage of effective project scope management is that it helps to formulate what is the expected deliverables of the project and helps to make involved stakeholders understand the same. It also assists the project team to focus on the project’s common objectives and also provides a smart roadmap for project manages which helps them to assign tasks, set budget and schedule work. Also, in complex projects, it helps to avoid the expansion of establishing vision which ensures that project resources are not wasted on out of scope elements. By developing a detailed project statement, project owners and manager can ensure that the project team remain focused on takes and also provides guidelines to facilitate effective decision making. Changes are natural in projects, especially in the complicated ones, however, proper planning in the initial stage can help to make sure that they do not adversely affect the success of the project and that there are measures in place to effectively manage them.
Simply put, the project scope statement justifies the existence of the project. In addition to this, it also quantifies project objectives and lists the high-level deliverables. Because of the considerable savings linked with the predictability of the project, it can be said that all aspect of the project scope should be extremely well defined before execution, as it is imperative for the successful execution of the project.
The project involves the construction of a community garden in -----. The garden will include a water harvesting and storage area, an area for producing compost, pergola for shelter from rain and sun, and tool storage, along with durable paths and plant propagation area in $5,000, and within 1 month. The project is initiated for the creative repurposing of urban land and to increase access to fresh foods. The garden will also contribute to a sense of connection and community to the environment and will provide an opportunity for neighbourhood improvement. The project is dependent on community participation and it is assumed that community members will actively participate and will contribute to the project execution.
Stakeholder analysis is one of the very first steps of stakeholder management. It is an important part of the stakeholder management which is used to win support from stakeholder involved in the project. In project management, stakeholder analysis is used to recognize key individuals who have to be won over. Rosa (2013) mentioned that the key benefit of using a stakeholder-based approach is that it allows project managers to use the suggestions and opinions of key stakeholder to direct the project during the early stage. Such suggestions also help to improve project quality. Moreover, getting support from powerful stakeholders is necessary to ensure project success. Stakeholder analysis also helps to facilitate effective communication with stakeholders (Kerzner, 2017).
In order to conduct a stakeholder analysis, the first step is to identify involved stakeholders who have power or influence over the outcome of the project.
Key stakeholders in the given Community garden project includes the neighbourhood residents, interested gardeners, city council members, allied organizations, the city parks department and the volunteer labour pool. In addition to this, landscape designers, the leadership of nearby neighbouring associations and the property owners of nearby areas are also regarded as project stakeholders (Wozniak, Bellah & Riley, 2016).
The above-mentioned power-interest matrix is used to prioritize stakeholders in order to ascertain the power and interest levels of the stakeholder. This helps determine which stakeholders have high power or low power and which one has a low interest or high interest. According to Kerzner (2017), stakeholders who have high power over the outcome of the project needs to keep satisfied while those with a high level of interest in the project should be kept informed. Moreover, those with both, high interest and high power should be managed closely as they have the biggest influence over the success of the project.
In the given project the stakeholder power-interest analysis is as follows:
High power and high interest: As Kerzner (2017) mentioned, these stakeholders should be monitored closely as they have both high influence and high level of interest in the day to day activities of the project. Neighbourhood residents, city council members and volunteers are included in this category.
High power and low interest: Stakeholders with a low level of interest and high power should be kept satisfied. Because even though they have influence over the project, they are not actively interested in the project outcome. This includes the city parks departments.
Low power and high interest: Under this category, allied organizations and neighbouring associations are included as even though they have interest in the project, they do not have power to significantly influence the outcome of the project. They should be kept informed with timely communication.
Low power and low interest: In low interest and low power category, the public outside the community is included. They just need to be monitored to ensure that their power and interest level do not change.
City council members Volunteers
High power and high interest
Neighbourhood residents are directly affected by the development of a community garden which marks their high interest. They also have high power as they protest against new construction in their neighbourhood.
City council is responsible for such developments and has the power to authorize or prohibit the same
The project is dependent on volunteers, it gives them high power and since they are labouring they are interested in the outcome.
City parks departments
High power and low interest
Can authorize or prohibit the project (high power), but has to deal with numerous development and is not actively interested in this one (Low interest)
Low power and high interest
Allied organisations and neighbouring associations with similar mission and values are interest in the project but cannot directly influence the project outcome
People outside of the community
Low power and low interest
People outside of the community do not high interest or power to influence project success.
Such strategies are implemented to interact with project stakeholders in an effective manner and in order to support their level of interest in project development. It is used to address the feeling of uncertainty, ambiguity, volatility and complexity among stakeholders. Kerzner (2017) mentioned that a deep level of trust and commitment of stakeholders is necessary to ensure project success. The author also suggests that stakeholders do not automatically open up to this level of commitment and trust; they need to be influenced in an effective manner. In the given project, the below-mentioned strategies can be used to facilitate ongoing engagement with key stakeholders:
Nguyen, Killen, Kock & Gemunden (2018) stated that the classical definition of tripe constraints in terms of project success changing today because of the increasing recognition of project “value”. This means that the success of a project is not limited to delivering the project within the time, scope and cost constraints, but to justify why investment is made into the project. This represents a shift in terms of “what did you build” to “why it was built in the first place”. A business case is a formal name for this justification. In the project management community, the project begins once a business case has been decided and fitting initiation tasks are conducted (Young, 2016). The business case is a “guardian of benefits”, which succinctly describes the way initiatives will support business strategy and provides measurable benefits which unambiguously relates to the core needs of the organization (Aarseth, Ahola, Aaltonen, Okland & Andersen, 2017).
Moreover, it also ensures respective individuals are accountable for project deliverables in order to ensure that stated benefits are realized. Papke-Shields & Boyer-Wright (2017) regarded it as an essential element to support project success by stating that business case provides a “line of sight” to the most fundamental needs of the business and ensures that project team is not deviating from the same needs. In addition to this, Kerzner (2017) mentioned that business case act as a guard against risk in the execution and planning phases of the project. The author further mentioned that a business case provides justification for undertaking a portfolio, programme or project. It facilitates the evaluation of the cost, risk of alternative options, benefits associated with the project and offers the rationale for the chosen solution.
Furthermore, Meredith, Mantel & Shafer (2017) mentioned that a project can only be effectively executed if it has been realistically planned with a clear focus. The author suggested that this is facilitated by a business case which offers sponsors, community and the decision-makers with an organization tool for decision making which is based on evidence. According to the authors, it is a framework for monitoring performance and delivery of the ensuing strategies, policies which project follows thereafter. Kerzner (2018) also supported this view and reported that a business case is not simply a record of the project’s return on investment, but a summary of all the key benefits the project offers to the client.
The importance of an independent business case cannot be overstated, as companies often use it as the first step for project selection. This is mainly due to the fact that the analysis of the business case suggests the way the project will implement the corporate strategy and will sustain the organisation’s competitive advantage. Moreover, it can be later converted to major milestones and action steps to develop a plan which guides the project manager through the life cycle of the project, including its outcome. Radujkovic & Sjekavica (2017) also mentioned the benefits of a business case in terms of project portfolio management as it can provide a rationale for investors to undertake a given project. Besides this, the authors reported that without a proper business case, there is no clear basis for project prioritization and no means to ascertain which project is important. It is also important for the project manager in respect of stakeholder satisfaction. Stakeholders are likely to be disappointed after the completion of the project if the project manager did not know their expectations in the first place. Without a business case, project managers can make the mistake of focusing on what is being built, rather than concentrating on how the built would be utilized.
In addition to this, the authors suggested that measurable benefits are also critical to selling the project to constituents in the first place. The importance of measurable benefits is that it allows organisations to ascertain whether goals have been achieved. In the context of project management, since target benefits enable managers to access whether targets have been realized, they should have pre-determined measures with clear and relevant units in order to support measurement. Measurable benefits are part of the bigger function in project management i.e. benefits management which involves determining the value which will be delivered to the client.
According to Callistus & Clinton (2018) before the commencement of any project activity, project managers should have a meeting with key stakeholders to discuss the core values of the organisation and how can the project under question contribute to organizational value. Heagney (2016) claimed that securing benefits is the main reason for which project is implemented and by making such benefits positive and measurable, one can determine when the project is implemented successfully. The measurable aspect of project goals is also a part of SMART strategy which suggests that project goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. By making the project benefits measurable, project managers can ensure that they have quantifiable and measurable metrics for the project. Measurable benefits are not only pertinent during the end of a project, but such benefits can also help to guide and make changes in project activities through constant monitoring and evaluation.
The abovementioned analysis suggests that the business case is one of the key documents for a project manager. It is both a benchmark and justification for the stated activities and the way such benefits are expected to be measured. Moreover, by making the project benefits measurable, one can effectively ascertain whether they have been achieved or not. In addition to this, a business case also important for the project portfolio management as it can be used by an investment committee to assess the benefits it offers for the organization.
The "Starting up a Project" unit was designed to give us a thorough understanding of the way a project is started including project's strategic impact, significant risks, constraints and decisions regarding the overall scope of the project that is made by key project stakeholders. The unit also taught me why inter-stakeholder communication is crucial for project success, and how we, as a project manager, can facilitate this process. Moreover, I learned the various steps involved in starting a project such as defining project scope, planning information distribution methods, identifying the project resources required to successfully complete a project communication and how to manage stakeholders. In addition to this, I also gained the logical and conceptual understanding of the risk management process involved in a project.
Therefore, it can be said that the unit encompasses every key aspect of the project initiation phase and gave me a strong foundation for my future career in project management. In term of what I learned specifically from the unit, I learned the way projects are selected through financial and non-financial techniques, and how to describe inputs for numerous project scope processes. I learned how different benefit measurement methods can be used to determine project value such as benefit/cost ratio, net present value, internal rate of return and opportunity cost, along with the non-financial considerations related to overall organizational goals.
I used to think that project selection is mainly driven by financial consideration, but as I learned through this unit, the organizational strategy is one of the major factors which affects the choice of project (Heagney, 2016). In addition to this, I am now better equipped to prepare an appropriate project scope statement, devise appropriate project constraints, perform risk analysis and stakeholder analysis, and to design a project risk management plan. I can also create a project communication plan, and can also describe various project communication issues in the context of the project. Moreover, throughout the unit various techniques to support my learning, and while some of them worked, others did not. For instance, I used to implement an elaborative interrogation technique to generate an explanation for a stated fact by asking why something happened.
However, I think that it did not work in this unit as there are numerous entities involved in a project and even though asking "why" can be helpful, it was too complicated for me. In contrast to this, self expalination was quite useful for me, as I think that by explaining to myself, rather than simply memorizing the key concepts, I got a better and deep understanding of the same.In addition to this, summarization was also quite helpful for me. In order to learn key concepts and to review them, I wrote short summaries by identifying main points of the text and to capture the gist of it. Furthermore, I also use some other common learning techniques such as highlighting and underlining, practice testing and distributed learning.
Also, the professor used real life case studies to support my learning and I think that it was very helpful as I got to disuss and apply throry as it applies to a meaningful context. From what I learned in this unit, I can say that it has changed some of the my old ideas related to how a project should be started. For instance, I used to think that the project manager is the one guiding the project, but if I have to plan a project in the workplace, I will use the organiziatonal goals to guide the project, and the value it offers to the organization. I will also implement a sound project communication because the unit taught me the importance of communicaiton within a project. Moreover, I will draw a clear and well detailed business case with measurable benefits (Kerzner, 2018). This will help me to effectively monitor and evaluate the project progress.
The weekly activities were quite helpful for me to get a better understading of the concepts taught in this unit and to apply they in meaning scenarios. The activites were designed to improve our communicaiton and our analytical abilities. They gave us unique opportunites to discover how the concepts that were being taught in the unit apply in real life scenarios. It was helpful, but also challenging for me, as I was having significant issue while conducting a stakeholder analysis, especially the beginning, in which we have to identify key stakeholders according to the given case.
The problem was not that I cound not identify stakeholders, its that for me everyone was a stakeholder and I could not differentiate between which one was relevant for the given case. I approched my classmates to understand how they do it. During my conversations with my peers I found that most of them had a logival approach to identify stakeholders to ensure that no one was omitted and that they differentiated between those who were directly effected and those who were indirectly effected by the project. Such meeting and conversations with other students helped me to resolve my doubts and supported my learning process.
Overall, I can say that the unit was significant in terms of my future development as a project manager as not only it gave me a sound understanding of the key concepts and provided groundwork for further learning, it also taught me that project management is an exact science with strict principels. Project management requires critical thinking, and an approach which is constantly evolving to incorporate best practices. I also learned the importace of having a peer group which can guide you and provide feedback. The unit was substantial for my future career and I think the concepts I learned in this unit will be pertinent for future learning and practice.
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