Project control tools by Samuel obino mokayaPresentation Transcript
PROJECT MANAGEMENT TRAINING SERIES Project Management Control Tools By Samuel Obino Mokaya BA, PGD, Ph.D. (Student) Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture & Technology, Nairobi, Kenya Tel: 0722845562 / 0734615008 E-mail: [email_address] , o’firstname.lastname@example.org September 2009
Project Control Tools
At the end of the session participants shall have learnt, understood & appreciated:
The essence of project control
How to plan and schedule projects
The key project control tools and techniques
Project management is the discipline of defining and achieving targets while optimizing the use of resources;
Time, money, people, materials, energy, space etc) over the course of the project (a set of activities of finite duration).
Remember the objectives of project management are to:
Ensure that the project is correctly designed to meet its objectives
Ensure that the project is completed on schedule, within resources and budget
Provide a mechanism for monitoring the project
Specific skills and tools are needed to run projects successfully.
Two main areas are critical in successful project management and control:
Scheduling skills, including use of Gantt charts and Critical Path Analysis,
Overall project planning following the Planning Cycle.
Specific focus on:
Estimating time accurately
Scheduling simple projects
Time planning - Gantt Charts
Critical Path Analysis & PERT
Effective planning (the planning cycle)
The control variables of a project include:
The amount of time required to complete the project
The time for each task contributing to the completion of each component of the project
Amount of money expended on each activity
Project requirements regarding materials and all other inputs to guarantee quality outputs
The confines of the defined and agreed project activities and operations
Unexpected occurrences and challenges that are likely to affect the attainment of the projected results
Accurate time estimation is a skill essential to good project management.
It is important to get time estimates right for two main reasons:
Time estimates drive the setting of deadlines for delivery of projects, and hence peoples' assessments of your reliability
They often determine the pricing of contracts and hence their profitability.
Usually people vastly underestimate the amount of time needed to implement projects;
Especially when they are not familiar with the task to be carried out.
Time estimates are important inputs into the other techniques used to organize and structure projects
The most commonly used techniques are Gantt Charts and Critical Path Analysis
The first stage in estimating time accurately is to fully understand what you need to achieve.
This involves reviewing the task in detail so that there are no unknowns.
Inevitably it is the difficult-to-understand, tricky problems that take the greatest amount of time to solve.
The best way to review the job is to list all tasks in full detail.
Once you have a detailed list of all the tasks that you must achieve, make your best guess at how long each task will take to complete.
Be sure to allow time for management, detailed planning, liaison with outside bodies, meetings, quality assurance & any supporting documentation necessary.
Also make sure that you have allowed time for:
Other high urgency tasks to be carried out which will have priority over this one
Accidents and emergencies
Holidays and sickness in essential staff
Contact with other customers, perhaps to arrange the next job
Breakdowns in equipment
Missed deliveries by suppliers
Quality control rejections
These factors may double (or more than double) the length of time needed to complete a project.
You can lose a great deal of credibility by underestimating the length of time needed to implement a project.
If you underestimate time, not only do you miss deadlines, you also put other project workers under unnecessary stress.
Projects will become seriously unprofitable, and other tasks cannot be started.
The first step towards making good time estimates is to fully understand the problem to be solved.
You can then prepare a detailed list of tasks that must be achieved.
The list should include all the administrative tasks and meetings you need to carry out as well as the work itself.
Finally, allow time for all the expected and unexpected disruptions and delays to work that will inevitably happen.
Typically, simple projects will have few tasks dependent on other tasks, and will be relatively simple and easy to coordinate.
Coordinating delivery of resources for a workshop session,
Implementing a small marketing plan, or delivering a simple software enhancement.
Gantt Charts & Critical Path Diagrams may complicate project scheduling & communication in simple projects.
Unless project team members are trained in their use, they can often 'blind people with science', leading to poor communication and muddled projects.
Scheduling Simple Projects
Appropriate Timetables and Action Plans are often sufficient to coordinate and implement simple projects.
These should be explained and negotiated with project staff to improve the plans and get staff understanding, input and buy-in.
It will often be enough to create a work-back schedule, starting from the date by which the project must be completed, and listing all of the tasks in reverse order with due dates for each.
Whatever the size of your project, ensure that you have agreed its scope with its sponsor (the person who wants it done) before you start planning.
This will help you to resist changes to its scope, which will seriously affect your plans, once you have started working.
During the project, Timetables and Action Plans these will contain sufficient control points and deliveries to monitor project progress and take any appropriate remedial action.
Gantt charts show task and schedule information.
The tasks are usually numbered and listed vertically.
A bar shows the starting date and projected completion date of each task.
Color or shading is sometimes used to show how much of each task has been completed.
A Gantt chart is a management tool and a communications tool.
Gantt Charts are useful tools for analyzing and planning complex projects.
Help you to plan out the tasks that need to be completed
Give you a basis for scheduling when these tasks will be carried out
Allow you to plan the allocation of resources needed to complete the project,
Help you to work out the critical path for a project where you must complete it by a particular date.
When a project is under way, Gantt Charts help you to monitor whether the project is on schedule.
If it is not, it allows you to pinpoint the remedial action necessary to put it back on schedule.
Sequential and parallel activities:
An essential concept behind project planning and Critical Path Analysis is that some activities are dependent on other activities being completed first.
For instance, it is not a good idea to start building a bridge before you have designed it!
These dependent activities need to be completed in a sequence, with each stage being more-or-less completed before the next activity can begin.
Other activities are not dependent on completion of any other tasks.
may be done at any time before or after a particular stage is reached (nondependent or 'parallel' tasks).
To draw up a Gantt diagram:
List all activities in the plan
For each task, show the earliest start date, estimated length of time it will take, and whether it is parallel or sequential.
If tasks are sequential, show which stages they depend on.
You will end up with a task list.
This example shows the task list for a custom-written computer project.
Figure 1. Gantt Chart Example: Planning a custom-written computer project NB: The start week shows when resources become available. Whether a task is parallel or sequential depends largely on context.
2. Head up graph paper with the days or weeks through to task completion
Plot the tasks onto the graph paper
Next draw up a rough draft of the Gantt Chart. Plot each task on the graph paper, showing it starting on the earliest possible date.
Draw it as a bar, with the length of the bar being the length of the task.
Above the task bars, mark the time taken to complete them.
Do not worry about task scheduling yet.
All you are doing is setting up the first draft of the analysis.
This will produce an untidy diagram like the one below:
Take the draft Gantt Chart, and use it to schedule actions.
Schedule them in such a way that sequential actions are carried out in the required sequence.
Ensure that dependent activities do not start until the activities they depend on have been completed.
Where possible, schedule parallel tasks so that they do not interfere with sequential actions on the critical path.
While scheduling, ensure that you make best use of the resources you have available, and do not over-commit resource. Also allow some slack time in the schedule for holdups, overruns, quality rejections, failures in delivery, and so on.
Presenting the Analysis
Final stage in this process is to prepare a final version of the Gantt Chart.
This should combine the draft analysis with your scheduling and analysis of resources.
This chart will show when you anticipate that jobs should start and finish.
A redrawn and scheduled version of the example project is shown below:
Figure 4: A Simple & commonly used Ganth Chart
Gantt charts are useful tools for planning and scheduling projects.
They allow you to assess how long a project should take, determine the resources needed, and lay out the order in which tasks need to be carried out.
They are useful in managing the dependencies between tasks.
When a project is under way, Gantt charts are useful for monitoring its progress.
You can immediately see what should have been achieved at a point in time, and can therefore take remedial action to bring the project back on course.
This can be essential for the successful and profitable implementation of the project.
Critical Path Analysis (CPA)
The CPA is a tool that illustrates the individual tasks of a project highlighting the expected starting & finishing tasks of each.
CPA is a project management tool that:
Sets out all the individual activities that make up a larger project.
Shows the order in which activities have to be undertaken.
Shows which activities can only taken place once other activities have been completed.
Shows which activities can be undertaken simultaneously, thereby reducing the overall time taken to complete the whole project.
Shows when certain resources will be needed; for example, a crane to be hired for a building site.
In order to construct a CPA, it is necessary to estimate the elapsed time for each activity (time taken from commencement to completion).
Then the CPA is drawn up a based on dependencies such as:
The availability of labour and other resources
Lead times for delivery of materials and other services
Seasonal factors – such as dry weather required in a building project
Once the CPA is drawn up, it is possible to see the CRITICAL PATH itself – this is a route through the CPA, which has no spare time (float or slack) in any of the activities.
In other words, if there is any delay to any of the activities on the critical path, the whole project will be delayed unless the firm makes other changes to bring the project back on track.
The total time along this critical path is also the minimum time in which the whole project can be completed.
Some branches on the CPA may have FLOAT, which means that there is some spare time available for these activities.
In such a graph it is understood that independent activities may proceed in parallel.
For example, after activity A is completed, activities B and C may proceed in parallel. However, activity D cannot begin until both B and C are done.
CPA answers the following questions:
What is the minimum amount of time needed to complete all activities?
For a given activity v , is it possible to delay the completion of that activity without affecting the overall completion time? If yes, by how much can the completion of activity v be delayed?
Figure: An Activity-Node Graph
Estimates the minimum/maximum time that tasks will be started and completed
Estimates the minimum time that the whole project will take to complete
Identify if resources are not being used effectively
Makes aware any tasks that could create a possible delay
Ultimately, the CPA will suggest which tasks are critical to keep on time anticipating that the delay in any one of the tasks will delay the whole project.
It is an effective and powerful method of assessing:
What tasks must be carried out.
Where parallel activity can be performed.
The shortest time in which you can complete a project.
Resources needed to execute a project.
The sequence of activities, scheduling and timings involved.
The most efficient way of shortening time on urgent projects.
An effective CPA can make the difference between success and failure on complex projects.
Project control is an essential aspect of effective project management
A decision as to which control tool to use, whether a simple activity schedule, action plan or the fairly complicated Gantt Chart or CPA will depend on the type and complexity of the project.
Of importance is that you are able to understand and arrange the project activities and operations in such a way that the project ends in time with the attainments of its targeted results.
Samuel Obino Mokaya
Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture & Technology, Kenya