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Project Management A Managerial Approach. Chapter 10 Monitoring and Information Systems. Monitoring and Information Systems. Evaluation and control of projects are the opposite sides of project selection and planning Logic of selection dictates the components to be evaluated

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Project Management A Managerial Approach

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    1. Project ManagementA Managerial Approach Chapter 10 Monitoring and Information Systems

    2. Monitoring and Information Systems • Evaluation and control of projects are the opposite sides of project selection and planning • Logic of selection dictates the components to be evaluated • The details of the planning expose the elements to be controlled • Monitoring is the collecting, recording, and reporting information concerning any and all aspects of project performance

    3. The Planning - Monitoring - Controlling Cycle • The key things to be planned, monitored, and controlled are time (schedule), cost (budget), and specifications • The planning methods require a significantly greater investment of time and energy early in the life cycle of the project • These methods significantly reduce the extent and cost of poor performance and time/cost overruns

    4. The Planning - Monitoring - Controlling Cycle • The control process should be perceived as a closed loop system • In a closed loop system, revised plans and schedules should follow corrective actions • The planning-monitoring-controlling cycle is continuously in process until the project is complete

    5. Information Flow for the Planning - Monitoring - Controlling Cycle

    6. Designing the Monitoring System • The first step in setting up any monitoring system is to identify the key factors to be controlled • The project manager must define precisely which specific characteristics of performance, cost, and time should be controlled • Exact boundaries must then be established, within which control should be maintained

    7. Designing the Monitoring System • The best source of items to be monitored is the project action plan • The monitoring system is a direct connection between planning and control • It is common to focus monitoring activities on data that are easily gathered - rather than important • Monitoring should concentrate primarily on measuring various facets of output rather than intensity of activity

    8. Designing the Monitoring System • The measurement of project performance usually poses the most difficult data gathering problem • Performance criteria, standards, and data collection procedures must be established for each of the factors to be measured • Information to be collected may consist of accounting data, operating data, engineering test data, customer reactions, specification changes and the like

    9. How to Collect Data • It is necessary to define precisely what pieces of information should be gathered and when • A large proportion of all data collected take one of the following forms: • Frequency counts • Raw numbers • Subjective numeric ratings • Indicators • Verbal measures

    10. How to Collect Data • After data collection has been completed, reports on progress should be generated • These reports include project status reports, time/cost reports, and variance reports • Causes and effects should be identified and trends noted • Plans, charts and tables should be updated on a timely basis

    11. How to Collect Data • A count of “bugs” found during a series of tests run on a new piece of software:

    12. How to Collect Data • Percent of specified performance met during repeated trials

    13. How to Collect Data • Monitoring can serve to maintain high morale on the project team • Monitoring can also alert team members to problems that will have to be solved • The purpose of the monitoring system is to gather and report data • The purpose of the control system is to act on the data

    14. How to Collect Data • Significant differences from plan should be highlighted or “flagged” so that they cannot be overlooked by the controller • Some care should be given to the issues of honesty and bias • An internal audit serves the purpose of ensuring all information gathered is honest • No audit can prevent bias - all data are biased by those who report them

    15. How to Collect Data • The project manager is often dependent on team members to call attention to problems • The project manager must make sure that the bearer of bad news is not punished; nor the admitter-to-error executed • The hider-of-mistakes may be shot with impunity - and then sent to corporate Siberia

    16. Information Needs and the Reporting Process • The monitoring system ought to be constructed so that it addresses every level of management • Reports do not need to be of the same depth or at the same frequency for each level • The relationship of project reports to the project action plan or WBS is the key to the determination of both report content and frequency

    17. Information Needs and the Reporting Process • Reports must contain data relevant to the control of specific tasks that are being carried out according to a specific schedule • The frequency of reporting should be great enough to allow control to be exerted during or before the period in which the task is scheduled for completion • The timing of reports should generally correspond to the timing of project milestones

    18. Information Needs and the Reporting Process • The nature of the monitoring system should be consistent with the logic of the planning, budgeting, and scheduling systems • The primary objective is to ensure achievement of the project plan through control • The scheduling and resource usage columns of the project action plan will serve as the key to the design of project reports

    19. Information Needs and the Reporting Process • Benefits of detailed, timely reports delivered to the proper people: • Mutual understanding of the goals of the project • Awareness of the progress of parallel activities • More realistic planning for the needs of all groups • Understanding the relationships of individual tasks to one another and the overall project • Early warning signals of potential problems and delays • Faster management action in response to unacceptable or inappropriate work • Higher visibility to top management

    20. Report Types • For the purposes of project management, we can consider three distinct types of reports: • Routine • Exception • Special analysis • Routine reports are those issued on a regular basis

    21. Report Types • Exception reports are useful in two cases: • First, they are directly oriented to project management decision making and should be distributed to the team members who will have a prime responsibility for decisions • Second, they may be used when a decision is made on an exception basis and it is desirable to inform other managers as well as to document the decision

    22. Report Types • Special analysis reports are used to disseminate the results of special studies conducted as a part of the project • These reports may also be used in response to special problems that arise during the project • Usually they cover matters that may be of interest to other project managers, or make use of analytic methods that might be helpful on other projects

    23. Meetings • Most often, reports are delivered in face-to-face meetings, and in telephone conference calls • Some simple rules can lead to more productive meetings: • Use meetings for making group decisions • Have preset starting and stopping times • Make sure that homework is done prior to the meeting

    24. Meetings • Some simple rules for more productive meetings (cont.): • Avoid attributing remarks or viewpoints to individuals in the meeting minutes • Avoid overly formal rules of procedure • If a serious problem or crisis arises, call a meeting for the purpose of dealing with that issue only

    25. Common Reporting Problems • There are three common difficulties in the design of project reports: • There is usually too much detail, both in the reports themselves and the input being solicited from workers • Poor interface between the project information system and the parent firm’s information system • Poor correspondence between the planning and the monitoring systems

    26. The Earned Value Chart • One way of measuring overall performance is by using an aggregate performance measure called earned value • A serious difficulty with comparing actual expenditures against budgeted or baseline is that the comparison fails to take into account the amount of work accomplished relative to the cost incurred

    27. The Earned Value Chart • The earned value of work performed (value completed) for those tasks in progress is found by multiplying the estimated percent completion for each task by the planned cost for that task • The result is the amount that should have been spent on the task so far • The concept of earned value combines cost reporting and aggregate performance reporting into one comprehensive chart

    28. The Earned Value Chart • Graph to evaluate cost and performance to date:

    29. The Earned Value Chart • Variances on the earned value chart follow two primary guidelines: • 1. A negative is “bad” • 2. The cost variances are calculated as the earned value minus some other measure • BCWP - budgeted cost of work performed • ACWP - actual cost of work performed • BCWS - budgeted cost of work scheduled • STWP - scheduled time for work performed • ATWP - actual time of work performed

    30. The Earned Value Chart • BCWP - ACWP = cost variance(CV, overrun is negative) • BCWP - BCWS = schedule variance(SV, late is negative) • STWP - ATWP = time variance(TV, delay is negative) • If the earned value chart shows a cost overrun or performance underrun, the project manager must figure out what to do to get the system back on target • Options may include borrowing resources, or holding a meeting of project team members to suggest solutions, or notifying the client that the project may be late or over budget • One note, Microsoft Project 98 does not calculate cost variance as defined by the PMI. They do it in reverse.

    31. The Earned Value Chart • Variances are also formulated as ratios rather than differences • Cost Performance Index (CPI) = BCWP/ACWP • Schedule Performance Index (SPI) = BCWP/BCWS • Time Performance Index (TPI) = STWP/ATWP • Use of ratios is particularly helpful when comparing the performance of several projects

    32. Cost/Schedule Control System Criteria (C/SCSC) • C/SCSC was developed by the U.S. Department of Defense in the late 1960s and was required for defense projects • It was an extension of the earned value analysis • It spelled out a number of standards of organization, accounting, budgeting, etc. that firms must meet if they are to be considered acceptable for government contracts • It is usually not required on government projects, but still is required by some businesses

    33. Cost/Schedule Control System Criteria (C/SCSC) • For purposes of control, it is just as important to emphasize the need to relate the realities of time, cost, and performance with the project’s master plan • To do this, the set of action plans (the project master plan) must be kept up to date

    34. Cost/Schedule Control System Criteria (C/SCSC) • Differences between work scheduled and work planned can develop from several different causes: • Official change orders in the work elements • Informal alterations in the methods used • Official or unofficial changes in the tasks to be accomplished • If the plan is not altered to reflect such changes, comparisons between plan and actual are not meaningful

    35. Milestone Reporting • Milestone reports serve to keep all parties up to date on what has been accomplished • If accomplishments are inadequate or late, these reports serve as starting points for remedial planning

    36. Computerized PMIS • New microcomputer-based project management information systems (PMISs) are considerably more sophisticated than earlier systems • Uses the microcomputer’s graphics, color, and other features more extensively • Many systems can handle almost any size project, being limited only by the memory available in the computer

    37. Computerized PMIS • The PMIS trend of the 1990s has been to integrate the project management software with spreadsheets, databases, word processors, communication, graphics, and the other capabilities of Windows-based software packages • The current trend is to facilitate the global sharing of project information, including complete status reporting, through local networks as well as the Internet

    38. Current Software • The explosive growth of project management software during the early 1990s saw the creation of more than 500 packages • Systems can be easily misused or inappropriately applied - as can any tools • The most common error is managing the PMIS rather than the project itself

    39. Current Software • In addition to managing the PMIS instead of the project, other problems include: • Computer paralysis • PMIS verification • Information overload • Project isolation • Computer dependence • PMIS misdirection

    40. Choosing Software • Characteristics of generally desirable attributes in project management software: • Friendliness • Schedules • Calendars • Budgets • Reports • Graphics • Charts • Migration

    41. Typical Software Output • Software evaluation action plan

    42. Typical Software Output • Early and late start and finish dates and slack

    43. Typical Software Output • Gantt Chart

    44. Typical Software Output • AON Network

    45. Typical Software Output • Gantt Chart Tracking progress

    46. Summary • It is important that the planning-monitoring-controlling cycle be a closed loop cycle based on the same structure as the parent system • The first task in designing the monitoring system is to identify key factors in the project action plan to be monitored and to devise standards for them • The factors should concern results, rather than activities

    47. Summary • The data collected are usually either frequency counts, numbers, subjective numeric ratings, indicators, or verbal measures • Project reports are of three types: routine, exception, and special analysis • Project reports should include an amount of detail appropriate to the target level of management

    48. Summary • Three common reporting problems are too much detail, poor correspondence to the parent firm’s reporting system, and a poor correspondence between the planning and monitoring systems • The earned value chart depicts scheduled progress, actual cost, and actual progress (earned value) to allow the determination of spending, schedule, and time variances

    49. Summary • There exist a great number of computerized PMIS’s that are available for project managers, with software evaluations occurring regularly in various magazines • Project managers’ preferred PMIS features are friendliness, schedules, calendars, budgets, reports, graphics, networks, charts, migration, and consolidation

    50. Monitoring and Information Systems Questions?