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Ch 6: Tools & Techniques for Keeping the Project on Course. Summary by Ivy Li 3/15/99. Introduction. In Chapters 1-5, we look at problems that are either organizationally induced or problems associated with identification of needs and specification of requirements.

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Ch 6: Tools & Techniques for Keeping the Project on Course

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Presentation Transcript
  • In Chapters 1-5, we look at problems that are either organizationally induced or problems associated with identification of needs and specification of requirements.
  • Chapters 6 & 7 talk about another important source of project difficulties: poor planning and control.
introduction cont
Introduction (cont.)
  • Many things happen in a project that is out of our control, so we assume a reactive posture: responding to difficulties after they occur.
  • With planning and control, project managers can assume a proactive posture: planning in advance for problems and finding solutions ahead of time.
  • This chapter, Frame focused on commonly accepted planning and control practices used on projects.
the project plan
The Project Plan
  • A project plan is a roadmap that tells us how to get from A to B.
  • A project plan is the launching point of a project. It is the beginning or a guide to future developments.
  • Plan emerges when:
    • needs are defined
    • requirements are specified
    • predictions are made about the future
    • available resources are tallied
the project plan cont
The Project Plan (cont.)
  • Plans are 3-dimensional, focus on:
    • time
    • money
    • human and material resources

Handled through schedules, enable us to determine when

different tasks should begin, when milestones will be achieved…etc.

Handled by budgets, how project funds are allocated.

We can use tools such as the Gantt

charts, resource spreadsheets to best allocate our limited resources.

planning uncertainty
Planning & Uncertainty
  • Planning --> Future --> Uncertainty
  • Our best plans are estimates of what the future may hold.
  • Projects with low level of uncertainty --> we have a good idea of precisely how project will proceed --> we can create highly detailed plans.
  • Projects with high level of uncertainty --> insufficient information on how things will proceed --> we cannot create a high degree of detailed planning.
planning uncertainty cont
Planning & Uncertainty (cont.)
  • With high uncertainty projects, we can try phased planning (rolling wave approach).
    • e.g. a high-risk 2 year project can be broken into 6 planning phases.
    • Toward the end of phase 1, detailed planning will launch for phase 2.
  • Low uncertainty projects can be complex.
    • e.g. a bridge is built many times --> routine with all the steps, low uncertainty --> highly complex.
project controls
Project Controls
  • Project Control is about looking at the plan, looking at what is actually happening on the project and compare the two.
  • Control serves as a feedback function. The purpose for control is to keep the project on track by keeping track of the project.
  • Why? There will always be variances between actuals and the plan. Plans are estimates, it can be really good but it is unlikely they will be perfect.
project controls cont
Project Controls (cont.)
  • With high level of uncertainty, we will accept large variances. Because we recognize our plan entails a lot of guesswork.
  • With low level of uncertainty, our criteria of acceptability are much more restrictive because our knowledge of how things should work out is precise.
    • We don’t spend much time on tracking if the tasks fall within the acceptable range. Our efforts are directed at reviewing tasks with variances outside this range. Thus, we’re practicing management by exception: we focus our energy toward special problems and not wasting it on routine matters.
how much planning and control is enough
How much Planning and Control is enough?
  • You can’t plan too much but planning & control have costs associated with them.
  • Relationship between project costs and the costs of planning & control:

Project Costs = Production Costs + Administrative Costs

*Admin Costs=Planning & Control costs

  • How much to spend on planning & control then?
    • Factors: Project complexity, project size, level of uncertainty, organizational requirements, and user friendliness of the planning & control tools.
how much planning and control is enough cont
How much Planning and Control is enough? (cont.)
  • Project Complexity
    • Greater the level of complexity, greater need to specify details.
  • Project Size
    • Formal large projects --> detailed rules are needed, so maybe 1/2 to 2/3 of the total project cost is from P&C.
  • Level of Uncertainty
    • High level of uncertainty --> plan will probably be continuously modified --> detailed planning may not work.
  • Organizational Requirements
    • Large corporations --> may emphasize on good P&C --> danger: same P&C procedures with a $3000 project as with a $10 million project.
  • User-Friendliness of the planning & control tools
    • If P& C tools are difficult to learn --> reduce project efficiency and drive up admin costs.
p c tools time schedule
P & C tools: Time (Schedule)
  • 3 main tools to schedule any projects, from simple to complex. They are the work-breakdown structure, the Gantt chart, and the schedule network (PERT/CPM).
work breakdown structure wbs
Work-breakdown structure (WBS)
  • WBS = Task list
  • When scheduling a project, first thing most people do is to generate a list of all the tasks that will be included.
    • First, take a big-picture view of the project
    • List major phases that must be addressed
    • Begin adding detail to each phase (later all detail to detail)
  • Project schedule then takes form in a top-down fashion. WBS focus on how project tasks fit into the overall project structure. (P.172 table 6.1, P.174, table 6.2)
  • If we add cost estimates for each subtasks, it is a costed WBS.
gantt chart
Gantt Chart
  • With Gantt Charts (variant of a bar chart), we can easily see when tasks should begin and end. Great tool for project control.
  • Let us visually compare our plan with the actuals, very useful to determine the amount of schedule variance we encounter.
  • P. 175 Figure 6.3 --> tasks are listed on the vertical axis, and time on the horizontal axis. We can see the starting and ending date, as well as the duration of the task.
pert cpm schedule network
PERT/CPM Schedule Network
  • Gantt charts doesn’t show the projectwide consequences of schedule changes on tasks. Looks as if they were independent activities.
  • Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT) and Critical Path Method (CPM) are based on flow charts and allow staff to examine the consequences on the overall project schedule of changing start and finish dates.
pert cpm schedule network16
PERT/CPM Schedule Network
  • First step to build the network is to create a WBS for the project. (i.e. list tasks)
  • Next is to create a flow chart from the information contained in the WBS. (P.178 Figure 6.4)
  • Tasks are placed into boxes and laid out according to the sequence they should occur.
  • Relationships with each other are shown with lines.
  • Amount of time needed for the task is given in the upper-right-hand corner.
pert cpm schedule network17
PERT/CPM Schedule Network
  • PERT/CPM networks have several critical pathsindicated by bolded lines. Critical Path is the path that takes the longest time to complete.
  • P.179 Figure 6.4. Two paths that take you from Start to Prepare basket. But the upper path (making ice tea) takes longer, thus it is a critical path with no slack. However,the lower path can be completed in 12 minutes, so it has a 3 minute slack.
  • If tasks on the critical path falls behind, it will reflect in the project as a whole.
resources network configuration
Resources & Network Configuration
  • PERT/CPM network is heavily dependent upon the amount of resources that can be devoted to the project. The more people we have, the more parallel activities we can conduct.
  • The example on P. 178 is called an activity-in-node network. Each box (task) portrays a node.
  • Another approach is the activity-on-arrow network. (P.181 Figure 6.5) Place tasks on arrows instead of boxes.
  • Old-timers prefer activity-on-arrow. With the computer technology, it is easier to portray activity-in-node on computer screen.
usefulness of the pert cpm network for planning control
Usefulness of the PERT/CPM Network for Planning & Control
  • Force project staff to identify carefully the tasks and the precise relationships of the tasks to each other.
  • Allow planners to develop the what-if scenarios, planners can determine the impact of fall backs on the overall project schedule.
  • This enables to create more realistic estimates of schedules.
  • Less useful as control tools because continual updating of the network can be a burden. Also, PERT/CPM do not graphically show schedule variances.