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Delay Problem In Any Project Systems Information Technology Essay

Since the start of civilization, people have been caught up in organized creations that have influenced lives, communities and societies. Which we would call them today, projects. Such creations often left impressive momentum and legendary tales that have stimulated future generations and motivated the research of historians, sociologists, archaeologists, and management scholars. Many projects get delayed due to number of controllable and uncontrollable factors. In the study conducted by Probert (1997), he pointed out that amongst large projects only 10-15% of them managed to complete as scheduled, while majority of the projects got delayed by 20 to 200%.

Association of project management (APM) defines project management as Project management is the process by which projects are defined, planned,monitored, controlled and delivered such that the agreed benefits are realised. Projects are unique, transient endeavours undertaken to achieve a desired outcome. Projects bring about change and project management is recognised as the most efficient way of managing such change. Project Management is immense topic and it is being studied from past centuries in one or other forms. There are many papers , articles and thesis presented on project management. Main concern of these materials is to give us methodical approach to handle the project.

Delays are the main concern for a project and which are very common in any project. I chose to work on difficulty involved in causes of delays of a project , which I think is less explained topic in this area of study. The introductory chapter explains about the aim and the purpose of the study for this review. This chapter is divided into two parts. First part explains about defining and understanding of the term planning and planning process in project management. The later part analyses the literature on delays problem in the project due to which project gets affected.

3.1 PLANNING IN PROJECT MANAGEMENT

3.1.1 Definition of a Project

In this era of globalization when competition in any business is at its peak, clearly we all understand what the term ‘Project’ means to an individual or a company. As defined by Gray & Larson (2007),“A project is complex, non routine, one-time effort limited by

time, budget, resources, and performance specifications designed to meet customer needs”.In today’s world people have become smart and wise and have started using all the available technologies so that they finish the project successfully and this is the primary goal of an individual or company. In simple words, this process of

managing a project for its successful completion can be

termed as project management. Kerzner (2006) in his text book, Project Management – A systematic Approach to Planning, Scheduling and Controlling, states in order to understand anything about project management or its tools and implementation, one must understand the definition of project. He defines project to be

any series of activities and task that:

• Have a specific objective to be completed within certain

specifications

• Have defined start and end dates

• Have funding limits (if applicable)

• Consume human and nonhuman resources (i.e., money,

people, equipment)

• Are multifunctional (i.e., cut across several functional lines)

One of the ways of illustrating the nature of project according

to Gray & Larson (2007), is through project life cycle. This way

they showed that projects have limited life span and that they

are prone to experience predictable changes in level and effort

for the project life.

project essentially passes through four sequential stages. They

are defining stage; planning

delivering stage.

A project in any industry of any work type, compromise

among three important

(Devaux, 1999). The scope is the total amount of work to be

done, the sum of number of activities that will transform a

project in a product or deliverable. Cost indicates the total

resource usage and is referred to as the budget. It says about

the finance required to build the project. Time is the total time

further added that the life cycle of thestage; executing stage and

variables: scope, time and cost required from conception to completion of the project as per described in scope.

3.1.2 Definition of Project management

“Project management is like juggling three balls - time, cost

and quality”

- G. Reiss

Project management plays an important role in an organization, right from project initialization to completion of project successfully. Project management is a set of processes and tools designed to be used together to manage a project successfully throughout its life cycle. Its application is flexible as required for every particular individual project. A project for being successful has to implement some very basic steps of project management. Failure of project management means failure of the project. Using this tool more means experiencing more problems which may lead to failure. People tend to forget that project management requires lots of experience and is not just some set of straight-forward rules which can be acted upon. People have put their practical experiences and have developed many computer based softwares to make the tedious and repetitive kind of job into a much easier and systematic way. These computer softwares are easily available nowadays. They help in saving time by monitoring time, cost, quality, track changes and improve project success.APM (2009), in the section ‘Definitions’ of book of knowledge defines project management as “The planning, organisation, monitoring and control of all aspects of a project and the

motivation of all involved to achieve the project objectives safely and within agreed time, cost and performance criteria. The project manager is the single point of responsibility forachieving this.”From the above definition Atkinson (1999) extracted that project planning and time control are one of the key elements of project management if not the only important elements.

Also he pointed out the other important elements of project management for making a project successful are cost of the project, the quality of the project and the level of performance. He indicated this by the iron triangle as shown below. From the triangle it is seen that time alone cannot be considered but has to be balanced against quality and cost. The Iron Triangle (Atkinson, 1999) Kerzner (2006) explains that project management involves project planning and project monitoring as listed below:

TIME

COST

QUALITY

• Project planning

- Definition of work requirements

- Definition of quantity and quality of work

- Definition of resources needed

• Project monitoring

- Tracking progress

- Comparing actual outcome to predicted outcome

- Analyzing impact

- Making adjustments

3.1.3 Project Planning

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”

- Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman,

Scientist and philosopher.

Planning gives us a direction to proceed. Kerzner (2006) in his book on project management describes general planning as

determination of what needs to be done, by whom and by when in order to fulfil one’s assigned responsibility.APM (2009) defines planning as “the process of identifying the

means, resources and actions necessary to accomplish a

project’s objectives”. Planning is the most important stage in project management.

Project management has always been traditionally concerned

with planning and control (Puddicombe & A.M.Asce, 2006).

The inherent nature like uncertainty and complexity of projects

make planning a difficult task for project managers as

anticipation and visualisation of likely future events is needed

(Li, Chan, Huang, Guo, Lu, & Skitmore, 2009). Planning is

applied from beginning to the end in other words, from inception to completion.

In addition to this, planning has always been a subject of debate. On one hand, authors like Kerzner, Gary & Larson and Lewis have written many books on defining the project

management activities and showing the world theoretical approach of the best practices in project management. While on other, there are authors looking at the ground realities and stressing the readers to concentrate on the limitations and problems in planning that affect the project in terms of time and cost overrun. Puddicombe & ASCE (2006) presented an analysis where he suggested that acknowledgment of limitations is the key criteria for a project’s success.Planning is done so that we make the best of the available resources, identify the approximate time period a project will take and also so that we are able to predict risk which can thus be tackled in a better way. Planning is also very useful to track and monitor the project performance over its progress.By using the planning process over a time period we come toknow the areas for its improvement for future projects (Lawlor-Wright, 2009; Gray & Larson, 2007).By and large, whether we want to study the best practice or limitations, it is clear that project planning is the key element for a project’s success.

A project manager can be effective, depending on his

planning skills. Planning is more about control and monitoring

which helps in completing a project successfully.

3.1.4 Planning Terminologies

Some of the planning terminologies that we need to study

before looking at the planning methods are as follows:

Activity or task

Gray (2007) defines an activity or task as an element of

project that consumes time. He further adds that this activity

may or may not consume resources.

Bar Chart or Gantt chart

Gantt chart is a type of bar chart named after Henry Gantt

who designed it almost a century ago. A typical Gantt chart is

drawn to illustrate a project schedule with a definite start and

end time (Blokdijk, 2007).

Baseline

Baseline may be often referred to as the target or as a

planned situation. The situation for which the baseline is

plotted can be anything from resource usage, to time usage,

to budget usage (Carmichael, 2006).

Budget

This is a planning which deals with proper usage of money.

Carmichael (2006) defines budget as a financial plan.

Cash Flow

Carmichael (2006) explains that cash flow is the difference

between the inflow of money and the expenditure of money.

Critical activity, critical path

Critical activities are activities without free time. These

activities directly influence the duration of the project.

Reducing the duration of a critical activity can result in early

finish of the project or vice-a-versa. The path connecting the

critical activities is called the critical path. The critical path

decides the project duration (Carmichael, 2006).

Floats

Float is often termed as slack. It is the time available for the

activity to delay the start or finish of the activity without

affecting the total project duration. Critical activities have zero

float and non critical activities and have some float

(Carmichael, 2006).

Estimates

A Lewis (2001) states that estimate is an approximate

calculation of time, quantity and resources which is predicted

and is required for project completion. Estimates calculated for

duration and cost is generally based on past similar projects

and experience.

Event

A start or end of any activity is termed as event. There are

special important events which have special place in a project.

Such events are called as milestone events (Carmichael,

2006).

Milestone

An important event occurring in a project is termed as a

milestone. There may be number of milestones in a project

including the start and the end of the project (Carmichael,

2006).

Network

A network is a diagram showing logical relationship between

occurring activities. It shows the precedence of any two

activities. Networks are the basis of project planning and are

made up of links, arrows and nodes (Carmichael, 2006).

Schedule or Program

A schedule or program holds the complete details of the

project like; the start date, end date and dates of various

milestones (Carmichael, 2006).

Delay

A delay is exceeded time period which affects the duration of

project. One of the basic reasons of proper planning is to avoid

delays, though the causes of delays could be many.

Deliverable

Deliverable means the end product for which the project was

commenced. It is expected that the deliverables should be

finished in the scheduled time, quality which was confirmed at the start by the task performer and within the estimated budget (Blokdijk, 2007).

Work Breakdown Structure

Once the project scope is finalised and defined, it should be

conveyed to all the team members. The next big step in the

planning process before applying the planning techniques is to

divide the project into small manageable i.e. well-defined work

elements. This procedure of dividing the work is called as

creation of work breakdown structure (WBS). WBS is

important for ensuring that no work or element is missed out

or duplicated and the linking of work packages with each other

is identified and clearly understood (Lawlor-Wright, 2009).

This is the basis of developing of project schedules and cost

estimates. This helps the manager to draw a framework of

task management and assigning responsibilities. According to

Gray & Larson (2007), a well defined scope of a project and an

accurate work breakdown structure act as twin pillars on which

the success of a project depends.

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