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A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling, and Controlling, Article Review Example

Pages: 6

Words: 1743

Article Review

Background of the Study

The article “Reducing Project Duration looks at a case where Tarunsoftech Private Limited (PTL) had been experiencing considerable reduction in the profitability of its projects as a result of a number of internal issues. As a fast growing premier software company in India, the company had been involved in numerous projects since its inception in 2002. The newly appointed CEO looked to find the cause for the reduction in profitability and potentially develop a solution for this issue. While a number of project where outsourced, other projects were executed in-house and were given a smaller priority than outsourced activities. The director of planning conducted an analysis of the company’s projects on three platforms; (1) the status of the projects at TPL, (2) the ongoing projects that were characterized by time delays, and (3) penalty imposed on projects for delays. It was discovered that a considerable amount of the company’s profits had been directed to facilitating the fines applied on delayed projects. As such it was recommended that project delays be mitigated or averted.

The purpose of this study is to highlight the potential issues that may arise and cause reduced profitability in ongoing projects. Project managers are constantly faced with the challenge of ensuring timely, profitable and satisfactory results during and at the completion of a project as such, this article looks to identify some of the problems that may cause deviations from either of the three aforementioned goals. The author critically analyses and provides information on the background of the projects in question. The main highlight of this approach was the scheme the company employs to determine prioritization of their projects.

Relation to Existing Concepts

The author highlights the major problem as time delays in project completion and suggests the application of control measures. This analysis and recommendation is not only accurate but best suited for the case in question. Performance metrics are essential to ensuring a successful project, realizing the intended goals and objectives within the parameters defined by the constraints. In selecting performance metrics, project managers find it considerably challenging determining and selecting the right number of metrics to employ.

These are measures that cannot be categorized completely as lagging or leading indicators. However, capturing these measures are essential for the optimal performance of a project. Diagnostic measures indicate the health or current state of the project. They potentially identify underlying anomalies and be used to forecasts problems before they occur. Three examples of the most commonly used diagnostic measures include; (1) budgeted cost of work scheduled , (2) budgeted cost of work performed, and (3) actual cost of work performed (Kerzner, 2013).

There are cases where the status input data provided does not tally with present and/or past data compared with other inputs. In such a case, the project lead has to discuss the status input data with the individual who provided the status input. This process is crucial in validating the information and ascertaining its accuracy and reliability using open question on the areas of concern. However, at times, these deviances represent a systemic or procedural problem. It is therefore essential to identify the underlying differences between the status input data and the project baseline so as to execute reactionary measures to remedy the underlying problem. When variances are adverse, they are precursors to a major problem in the near future. It is also important that one investigates a variance before handing in their status input. This is only to be done for those variances that are unaccounted for and present a radical variable within the project. It is important to ascertain whether the variance is an event that is likely to recur or it is a single, one-off event.

Research Design and Methodology

The author employs a case study format to this research. This study design allows for the collection of a lot of detail that help back up the author’s claims. The author has the ability to provide statistical and concrete data to depict the effects that time delays have on the profitability of the company. This has been necessitated by the research design; concentrating on one particular case to depict the effect of time delays on projects and their profitability. Furthermore, the information provided as a result of this study design can be further analyzed to provide further inferences applicable to the case.

The case study design also allows the author to collect both qualitative and quantitative data to provide a clearer outlook of the concepts in question. One of the most effective techniques the author has employed is the use of qualitative data to supplement the quantitative information provided in the form of figures and tables. The author critically analyzes the potential problem that time delays have on profitability, reinforcing initial ideology of time and cost in project management. The author has reinforced initial concepts by highlighting the penalty paid as a result of delays in the execution of project activities. This approach looks at the effects of lack of control measures which is a critical tool in determining the extent to which a project has deviated from its intended scope, schedule and budget.

Applicability

The issue tackled by the article and the solutions proposed are of utmost importance to project management. As businesses seek to engage in a global and networked market and industry, operations managers are looking to develop robust and highly efficient projects. While profitability is a requirement for most projects, the sustainability of profitability is critical for extended and prolonged operations (Richardson, 2015). However, time delays are a constant risk that project managers have to take into account. Time delays represent deviations from the intended project schedule. Such deviations entail considerable a number of costs to the project that eventually affect the availability of financial resources (budget) and eventually profitability.

Project schedule risk is a day-to-day challenge that most project managers face. Since projects are run on a given time-line, deadlines are crucial in ensuring completion within the required budget constraints. Personal experiences have denoted that in order for a project to be successful, there is need to identify the possible triggers of deviations from the intended schedule. As depicted by the TPL case, when control measures are not put in place, potential deviations may not be identified beforehand and appropriate measure taken.

Research Findings

The research resulted in findings that indicate reduced profitability to be caused by time delays in the execution of TPL projects. One of the most important factors the findings point out to is the existence of off-shore projects. Furthermore, these projects had been given priority, affecting the company’s budget allocation on projects. This is in line with knowledge in project management; i.e. when project tasks are experience time delays in their execution, expenditure tends to increase beyond the intended budget, eventually affecting the profitability of the project in the long-run. With the continuation or prolonging of the completion of some of the activities, the project is expected to eventually experience overrun costs and considerable inefficiencies; such inefficiencies eventually lead to further incurred costs.

Project schedule risks have to be anticipated and accounted for prior to the commencement of a project. This is critical in setting in place preventive and counter measure measures in the event of such risks occurring. TPL, as recognized by the Director of operations, failed to put in place preventive and/or counter measures in the event certain aspects of a project consume more time than initially projected.

Comparison to Alternative Approaches

The author has approached the TPL case from the aspect of time delays. While time delays are a considerable factor affecting profitability of a project, it is simply a symptom of underlying problems and gaps in the planning, management and execution of a project. However, the (Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) highlights the need and importance of a well-defined project scope. A well-defined project scope, supplemented by specific control measures tend to put into perspective the potential risks associated with each of the activities in the project (Project Management Institute, 2013).

The project scope is critical in developing the Scope Management Plan. PMBOK highlights the scope management plan as a critical indicator of the background information (problem and/or opportunity), project objectives, deliverables, key success criteria, assumptions, risks and obstacles. This approach takes into a holistic outlook of the potential underlying problems at TPL. The identification of risks would prompt the development of control measures to avert, mitigate and/or counter the effects of

Recommendations

The author has effectively depicted the effect of project schedule risks on the profitability of a project in the long-run. This has been supported by quantitative and qualitative information provided in the case. However, further research has to be conducted on the case; the results of which may affect the conclusions provided by the author. One important factor the author fails to consider is the effect of budget allocation in the case where multiple projects are concerned.

A project, irrespective of the field it is in has numerous constraints; the constraints are categorized using three criteria; budget, quality, and time (Bosworth, 1995, p. 46). The constraints of the project affect the outcome, with risks and threats associated with these constraints in the project’s cycle. This can be seen under various coverage of the project, for instance, in the execution phase, certain steps that may result with the project failing and/or decline of the quality standards associated with the approach on a specific project that is being developed or rehabilitated.

There is a trade-off problem for project risk and project budget. Project cash flows are usually pushed to the negative side by Risk Mitigation Strategies as they necessitate extra budgets. While on the other hand, Cost mitigation efforts tend to be accompanied by risks. Project managers are constantly challenged with striking the balance between risks and cash flows in the planning phase of any project. One of the important aspects of collecting metrics for analysis of performance is the amount of time taken in this process. The number of metrics that is employed by any given project not only influences the costs that will be incurred, but the amount of time consumed throughout the project. The management and tracking of performance metrics may potentially steal time that may be allocated for the accomplished of the project’s work.

References

Kerzner, H. (2013). Project management: a systems approach to planning, scheduling, and controlling (4th ed.). New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Project Management Institute. (2013). A guide to the project management body of knowledge (PMBOK guide). Newtown Square: Project Management Institute, Inc.

Richardson, G. (2015). Project management theory and practice. Boca Raton: CRC Press.

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