Project management is a temporary program of activities or tasks to be undertaken to achieve a certain objective. There is usually a team is appointed to oversee the whole process. It is a delicate process that should be handled well due to the time constraints and project risks.
Project Planning and Scheduling (PERT)
There are several tools used for project management. Pert which stands for project planning and scheduling is network-based tools that assists in coordinating and scheduling the interrelated tasks for a project. It uses a network pictorial representation to show the precedence and other relationships of the activities. In the project, there is the starting activity that will only have outflow arcs and the ending activity that has only the inflow arcs.
The activities in the project are represented by the use of arcs. Each activity has to be performed within certain duration. The precedence in the activities is illustrated by the fact that the activities that are leaving a certain node can only be accomplished once all the activities entering a certain node are completed. The nodes in the network representation are the events that occur at a certain time. The project manager is concerned with two main things. He asks himself, what is the shortest time to complete the project? He is also interested to know, which are the activities in the project that must be completed on time such that he is able to complete the project in the shortest time possible? This bundle of activities that must be completed in time for the project to take the shortest time possible is known as the critical path. To find the critical path the manager must know the duration of time that each activity in the network will consume. If any of the project activities that lie on the critical path are not completed in time or are late then the entire project will therefore be late. To determine the duration of time an activity will consume the project manager can either use direct estimates or the three estimate method (Kerzner, 2003, p350). In the direct estimate method, the manager uses his experience and judgment based on the prior projects that he has handled before. Under the three estimate method, the manager uses three estimates and gets the weighted average. The three estimates are the direct estimate, an optimistic value which is the time needed to do the activity if all goes well and the pessimistic estimate, which is the time needed incase everything in the project management process goes wrong.
Earnings Value Management
This is a technique that is used in project management to track the projects performance throughout the process. It is a system that analyses the scope, schedule and costs of the project in an integrated system (Slanski, 2009, p12). The technique is widely used or preferred due to its ability to predict accurately project performance challenges. The technique requires the use of three variables, the project plan which shows the scope of the work to be covered, the cost of the work to be performed and the measurement of the earnings or credit on the work that is actually performed (Marshall, 2007). The work to be done is shown in a hierarchical representation. This representation is known as the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS).
The cost of the work to done or the planned value can be presented by the project manager in terms of either currency or the labor hours that will be consumed by the activity. After the project manager has gotten the values of the three mentioned elements, the project is now commenced and progress is measured. The earnings are measured periodically once the activities have started. The project manager decides whether to accumulate the earnings after every week or monthly. The technique is popular as it shows the performance curve of the projects. Managers have realized that the risk of project failure is high and may occur due to cost overruns, scope constraints or time delays.
For successful project management, there needs to be a proactive management or project risk exposure. In any project, there is the risk that the team will not be able to meet its set objectives. It is not enough to just list the risks that a project is exposed to. Although the risks can be prioritized, the management should go further and use the risk matrix to provide insight into the structure of the risk exposure (Carbone & Tibet, 2004). The use of the Work Breakdown Schedule and the Risk Breakdown Structure helps the manager come up with the Risk Breakdown Matrix. For each risk in the project, a numerical value is assigned based on the probability and the impact of the risk on the activities of the project.
The manager is now expected to concentrate on the risks with the highest risk and probability as these are the most likely to lead to project failure or delays. The manager should also monitor the risks and assess their impact regularly as time continues. This process is known as risk assessment and management. The risk matrix is important as it links the specific risks to the affected area of the work (Hillson, 2003)
The project management team therefore has the mentioned three tools and technique to assist them in ensuring the project management process is a success. If the team needs training on how to use them, it should be provided by the senior management.
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Marshall, R. (2007). The Contribution of Earned Value Management to Project Success on
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Solanki, P. (2009) Earned Value Management: Integrated View of Cost And Schedule
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