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Project management techniques

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Project management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities in order to meet or exceed stakeholder needs and expectations from a project. In other word it is the discipline of planning, organizing, and managing resources related to a project to successfully complete the specific goals and objective of the project. A project is a temporary thing which has a predefind goal and a defined begining. The temporary nature of project stands in contrast to business as usual, which are repetative, parmanent or semi permanent functional work to produce product or service.

 Project Management Knowledge Areas

Project management knowledge areas describe project management knowledge and practice in term of its component process. These proceses have been organized into nine knowledge areas as described below-

 Project Integration Management

Various types of processes are required to coordinate the various element of the project. Project integration management integrate all those processes to fullfill the project goal.there are three major areas for project integration management:

Project plan development

Project plan execution

Overall change control

These processes are interact with other and with the process in the other knowledge areas as well. Moreover, integration must also occur in anumber of other areas inorder to be successfully completion of the project.

Project Plan Development

Project plan development uses the outputs of the other planning processes to create a consistent, coherent document that can be used to guide both project execution and project control1. It is used to guide project execution, document project planning assumptions, document project planning decisions regarding alternatives chosen, facilitate communication among stakeholders, define key management reviews as to content, extent and timing. It also provide a baseline for progress measurement and project control.

 Project Plan Execution

Project plan execution is the primary process for carryign out the project plan. The project manager and the project management team will corordinate with each other uses the various technical and organizational interfaces that exists in the project. Project application areas directly affect the project processin which the product of the project are actually created.

Inputs of project plan execution are project plan,supporting details, organization policies, creative action. General management skills, product skills and knowledge, work authorization, system, status review meetings, project management information system, organizational process are techniques used in project plan execution.

Overall Change Control

Overall chnage control is concerned with influencing the factors which create change to ensure that changes are benificial, the changes that has occured need to be determined, and managing the actual changes when and as they occur. Inputs of overall change control are project plan, performace reports, change requests etc. The techniques that are used on overall change control are change control system, configuration management, performance measurement, additional planning and project management information system.

Project Scope Management

The project scope management plan refers to the mechanism that consists of formalized document that is used for the purposes of detailing exactly how the pproject scope will be defined, what decision will be undertaken to develop the project scope, how the project scope will ultimately be varified and how all the components will be created and defined under work break down structure. Five major areas of the project scope management process are.

1. Initiation, 2. Scope planning, 3. Scope definition, 4. Scope verification, and 5. Scope change control.

The project scope management plan also will provide information and assistance in determining exactly how the actual scope of the project will ultimately be controlled in the management process by the project management team and or the project management team leader. The actual project scope management plan, as with most project management components, can be a very formally written document, or it can also be a much more informally written document. The detail level can vary wildly as well, depending on exactly what the needs of the project dictate2.

Project Time Management

Project time management includes the processed required too ensure timely completion of the project. The major areas of time management are described inbrief in the following sections-

 Activity Definition

Activity definition involves identifying and documenting the specific activities that must be performed in order to produce the deliverables from the project. Activity definition uses WBS, scope statement, historical information, diferent constraint, assumptions as the inputs. Decomposition tools and tamplates are used as techniques. Activity list, supoprting details, and the updates of WBS are the outcomes from this area.

Activity Sequencing

Activity sequencing involves the identifying and documenting the activity dependencies within the project. The activity must be sequenced inoder to support the later development of a real world and achivable schedule. Activity list, product description, dependencies, assuptions etc are used as input in this area. Precedence daigramming method (PDM), arrow diagramming method , network templates are used to process the inputs.

Activity Duration Estimating

Aactivity duration estimating involves assuring the number of work periods likely to be needed to complete each identified activity. Overall project duration is also estimating in this period. The inputs of this period are activity list, constraints, assumptions, resource requirements, resources capabilities etc. Activity duration estimation, basis of estimates, and activity list updates are the outputs that we can get from this period.

 Schedule Development

Schedule development involves in determining the start and finish dates for project activities. If the time schedule of a project are not realistic, the project is unlikely to be finished as scheduled. Project network diagram, activity duration estimates, resource requirements, resource pool description, assumptions etc are inputs of this area. The outputs we got from this area are project schedule, supporting detail, schedule management plan, resource requirement updates.

Schedule Control

Schedule control is concerned with the factors which influence to create schdule changes to ensure that changes are benifical for the project, detemining that the schedule has changed and managing the actual changes when and as they occur. Schedule control is integrated with the overall control process which is a phase of project integration management. Project schedule, performance reports, change requests, schedule management plan are the inputs to this area.

Project Cost Management

Project cost management includes the processes which are required to ensure that the project is completed within the approved budget. It involves the following major areas-

Resources Planning

Resource planning involves determining what physical resources like- people, equipment, materials etc. and what quantities of each should be used to perform project activities. It is closely coordinated with cost estimating. WBS, historical information, scope statement, resource pool description and organization policies are the inputs of this area. Experts will judgment with all alternatives that are identified and give a complete resource requirement.

Cost Estimating

Cost estimating involves to developing a possible estimation of costs of resources that are needed to complete a project activities. WBS, resource requirements, resource rates, activity duration estimates and chart of account are the inputs of cost estimation. There are different tools that are used in this process. They are- analogous estimating, parametric modeling, bottom-up estimating, computerized tools etc. cost estimates, supporting details,, and cost management plan are the output of this area.

 Cost Budgeting

Cost budgeting involves allocating the overall cost estimates to individual work items in order to establish a cost baseline for measuring project performance. Cost estimation, WBS, and project schedule are the inputs of cost budgeting. Cost baseline is the outputs of this stage.

Cost Control

Cost control is concerned with the factors which create changes to the cost baseline to ensure that changes are beneficial, whether the cost baseline has changed or not, managing the actual change. Cost baseline, performance reports, change requests and cost management plan are the inputs of this area.

Project Quality Management

Project quality management includes the processes required to ensure that the project will satisfy the needs for which it was undertaken. It includes all activities of the overall management function that determine the quality policy, objectives and responsibilities. The following areas are the major part of project quality management process.

Quality Planning

Quality planning identifies the quality standards which are relevant to the project and to determining how to satisfy them. Quality planning, scope statement, product description, standards and regulations and other process outputs are the inputs of quality planning. Flowcharting, benchmarking, designing of experiments are the techniques used to process the inputs. The result out from this phase includes quality management plan, operational definitions, checklists etc.

Quality Assurance

Quality assurance evaluates the overall project performance on a regular basis to provide confidence that the project will satisfy the relevant quality standards. Quality management plan, result of quality control measurements, operational definitions are inputs of this process and quality improvement is the outcome from this process.

Quality Control

Quality control monitors the specific project results to determine if they comply with relevant quality standards and identifying ways to eliminate causes of unsatisfactory performance. Work result, quality management plan, operational definitions and checklist are input of this area. This inputs are processed by control charts, praetor diagram flowcharting. Quality improvement, acceptance decisions, rework, completed checklists, process adjustments etc are the outputs from this process.

Project Human Resource Management

Project human resource management involves the process of using the people who can make the effective effort to complete the project. All the sponsor, customers, individual contributors are included in human resource management. The major areas are describing below-

Organizational Planning

Organizational planning involves identifying, documenting, and assigning project roles, responsibilities and reporting relationships. The inputs are project interfaces, staffing requirements and constraints. Templates, human resources practices and stakeholder analysis are the tools for processing the inputs. The role, responsibility assignment of persons who are working on the project and also the supporting details are the result we have from this phase.

Staff Acquisition

The human resources needed to be assigned and are working on the project are involves in staff acquisition. The staff acquisitions also take care about best resources which may be missing in most work environment. Staffing management plan, staffing pool description, recruitment practices are the inputs of this area. Negotiations with workers, pre- assignment and procurement are tools that used in staff acquisition. And as a result the project will get the staff assigned to it, and has a team directory.

Team Development

Team development includes enhancing the ability of stakeholders as well as the team which are working on the project. Project staff, project plan, staffing management plan, performance reports and external feed is the inputs of the team development.

Project Management Techniques

There are a number of approaches to managing project activities. We only describe the Program evaluation and Review technique (PERT) and Critical Path Method (CPM).

Pert

A series of activities are needed for complex project, some of them has to be performed sequentially and others can performed parallel with other ptoject. This randomness in activitiy completion times are allowed in the Program evalution and Review technique (PERT) which is like a network model.

The Network Diagram

Project actvities are the task that needs to be performed and the marking the completion of some important activities are called events also referred as milestones. All of the predecessor activities must be completed before an activity begins. Activities and milestones are respresenated by arcs and nodes respectively in project network model. The activites are represented on the lines and milestones on the nodes, as PERT originally was an activity on arc network. The PERT char may have multiple pages with many sub-tasks. In the following fig we have shown a simple PERT diagram.

The ending nodes has the higher number than the beginning node of an activity. Incrementing the numbers by 10 allows for new ones can be inserted without modifying the entire diagram. The activites in the fig are labeled with letters along with the expected time that is needed to comple the activity.

Steps in the PERT Planning Process

PERT planning involves the following steps:

1. Specific activities and milestones identifying.

2. The sequence of the activities properly determined.

3. Construct a network diagram.

4. Estimate the time required for each activity.

5. Determine the critical path.

6. Update the PERT chart as the project progresses.

Advantages

PERT is useful because it provides the following information:

  • The project will complete in expected time.
  • There will be a Probability of completion of the project before the specified date.
  • The completion time of a project are directly affected by critical path activities.
  • The activities that have slack time and that can lend resources to critical path activities.
  • Activity starts and end dates are also provided by PERT.

Disadvantages

The following are some of PERT's weaknesses:

  • The activity time estimates are somewhat subjective and depend on judgment. In cases where there is little experience in performing an activity, the numbers may be only a guess. In other cases, if the person or group performing the activity estimates the time there may be bias in the estimate.
  • Even if the activity times are well-estimated, PERT assumes a beta distribution for these time estimates, but the actual distribution may be different.
  • Even if the beta distribution assumption holds, PERT assumes that the probability distribution of the project completion time is the same as that of the critical path. Because other paths can become the critical path if their associated activities are delayed, PERT consistently underestimates the expected project completion time.

The underestimation of the project completion time due to alternate paths becoming critical is perhaps the most serious of these issues. To overcome this limitation, Monte Carlo simulations can be performed on the network to eliminate this optimistic bias in the expected project completion time.

1. http://www.netmba.com/operations/project/pert/

2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pert

 CPM

The activities and events of a project can be modeled as a network using CPM method. In the following diagram we have shown the activities as nodes on the network and events are depicted as lines or arcs between the nodes.

Steps in CPM Project Planning.

1. individual activities should be specified

2. Sequence of the activities should be determined

3. Draw a network diagram.

4. For each activity the completion time should be estimated.

5. Critical path identification (longest path through the network)

6. Update the CPM diagram as the project progresses.

1. Individual Activities should be specified

A listing of activities can be made from the work break down structure of a project.

2. Sequence of the Activities should be determined

Some activities are dependent on each other depending on the completion of others. To constructing a useful CPM network diagram, a listing of the predecessors of each activity is needed.

3. Draw the Network Diagram

The CPM diagram can be drawn after defining the activities and their sequencing. CPM originally was developed as an activity on node (AON) network, but some project planners prefer to specify the activities on the arcs.

4. For each activity Completion Time the completion should be estimated

The time required to complete each activity can be estimated using past experience or the estimates of knowledgeable persons. CPM is a deterministic model that does not take into account variation in the completion time, so only one number is used for an activity's time estimate.

5. Critical Path identification

The critical path is the longest-duration path through the network. The significance of the critical path is that the activities that lie on it cannot be delayed without delaying the project. Because of its impact on the entire project, critical path analysis is an important aspect of project planning [2].

6. Update CPM diagram

The network diagram should be updated as the project progresses, all of the task information that has completed needed to be including in the diagram. While project requirement changes the structure of the network diagram also change.

Advantage:

  • Graphical view of the project can be found.
  • The required time needed to complete the project can be predicted.
  • A list of activities which are critical to maintain and schedule can be found.

Disadvantage

CPM was developed for complex but fairly routine projects with minimal uncertainty in the project completion times. For less routine projects there is more uncertainty in the completion times, and this uncertainty limits the usefulness of the deterministic CPM model.

1. http://www.netmba.com/operations/project/cpm/

2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Critical_path_method

3. http://hspm.sph.sc.edu/COURSES/J716/CPM/CPM.html


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