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A typical project showing the main planning tools. Project Management. John Potter Plymouth Business School University of Plymouth. Back to basics. The project environment Project definition Project objectives Project scope Specification Project strategy

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a typical project showing the main planning tools

A typical project showing the main planning tools

Project Management

John Potter

Plymouth Business School

University of Plymouth


Back to basics

  • The project environment
  • Project definition
  • Project objectives
  • Project scope
  • Specification
  • Project strategy
  • The importance of project milestones

Project planning

  • The project planning is a key part of the process
  • It determines cost and duration, level of resources and duration of the project, the allocation of work and resources, the ability to monitor progress and assess the impact of changes
  • The process may be shown as five stages:
    • Identify activities
    • Estimate times and resources
    • Identify relationships and dependencies
    • Identify schedule restraints
    • Create the schedule
  • Effective project working is more about the human aspects than the technical aspects as computer software can today handle most of the planning activity
project control
Monitoring tools which are appropriate to the particular project

Maintaining commitment of all stakeholders

Discussion, planning, doing and reviewing cycles as a continuous process

Using targets and milestones effectively

Achievement graphs

Creating a high performing team

The superteam charter

Project control
the superteam charter
The superteam charter
  • Obsessive in the pursuit of success
  • High expectations of ourselves and others
  • Demonstrating respect for all stakeholders
  • Giving early warning of possible problems
  • Working hard to keep each other up to date with progress
  • Moving from blame frame to outcome frame when things go wrong
  • Representing the project and its team positively both inside and outside the organisation
  • Valuing, involving and being open with invisible team members
  • Understanding how our own roles fit in with others
  • Being open when performance does not match aspiration and ensuring that we take the appropriate action to get things back on track
network planning
A complex process

Identifying all tasks and estimates

Being aware of restrictions on start and completion dates

Identifying parallel activity

Identifying the critical path

Taking into account resource issues

Network planning
cpm critical path method
This identifies the shortest time for project completion

An excellent example is shown on page 84 of project leadership by Briner, Geddes and Hastings.

This network diagram shows the key issues of events numbers, earliest start and latest finish times

The critical path is clearly defined

Another excellent description with examples of critical path method is shown in ‘Operations Management’ by Slack, Chambers and Johnson pages 536 to 539 and includes a section on calculating float, which relates to the ability to change the timings of activities in various parts of the project to accommodate resource and other issues.

CPM – critical path method
time estimates
Time estimates
  • Many types of estimate - ball park, worst case, best case etc
  • PERT gave us a mathematical approach which gives optimistic, a most likely and a pessimistic estimate
  • Using basic statistics one approach to estimates is based on the formula

te = t0 + 4tl +tp


Where te is the expected time, tl is the most likely time

Where t0 is the optimistic time, tp is the pessimistic time

Page 542 of ‘Operations Management’ shows how this beta probability distribution can be developed into comprehensive analysis of means and variances throughout a network

project finance
Project Finance
  • Project leader is not an accountant
  • Awareness of financial issues is very useful
  • Capital
  • PFI (Private Finance Initiative)
  • Cashflow
  • Monitoring
handling resource constraints
Handling resource constraints
  • A benefit of network analysis is the identification of resource constraints
  • Rescheduling may reduce the pressure on resources simply by rescheduling some activities
  • Operations Management gives some useful and clear examples
  • In particular the process of ‘crashing networks’ is discussed which a process of reducing time spans on critical path activities so that the project is completed in less than the planned time. (See Operations Management Page 545).

‘Operations Management’ by Nigel Slack, Stuart Chambers and Robert Johnson (2001) Prentice Hall



Slack. N., Chambers. S. & Johnson, Right. (2001) Operations Management. Prentice Hall

Briner. W., Geddes. M. & Hastings .C. (1990) Project Leadership. Gower: Aldershot, England.

Project Management Institute (2009) A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge: PMBOK Guide.

Pretorius. F., Lejot. P., McInnnis. A., Arner. D. & Hsu, B.F.C (2008) Project Finance for Construction and Infrastructure: Principles and Case Studies. Blackwell Publishing: Oxford.


This resource was created by the University of Plymouth, Learning from WOeRk project. This project is funded by HEFCE as part of the HEA/JISC OER release programme.

This resource is licensed under the terms of the Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/).

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