Project Management Responses, Essay Example

What alternative methods for scheduling projects have you encountered in your work (or have heard about)? What is good (or bad) about the method?

Response #1

Project management hinges upon scheduling tasks and completing them on time, on budget and within the scope defined in the project charter and scope definition.  While there are multiple ways to schedule projects the initial response hits upon three differing methods including CCPM, CPM and WBS.  While they all differ in multiple ways the biggest difference is how the work or tasks are delineated and distributed.  All of the methods try to take a qualitative and abstract measurement and estimate such as timing, resource constraints and expertise on certain areas and manipulate them into a qualitative formula with an end result of project completion date.  While all three methods will result in a date and duration of tasks that the project manager can present to the stakeholders the main question of accuracy and precision of that date comes into question.  This is where the expertise and due diligence of the project manager and project team come into play.  It is their responsibility to seek out the experts, research previous projects similar in nature and really make educated recommendations on project scope, schedule and cost.  As more information comes to light as the project progresses it is up to the project team to update the stakeholders and identify potential risks to the project.

References:

Project Management Institute.(2008).A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide) Fourth Edition. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute.

Response #2

Project planning and scheduling tools discussed in the second essay revolved around the Critical Path Method (CPM) and Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT).  First when utilizing PERT it must be known that it is fantastic at analyzing and evaluating individual tasks but fails to interlink dependencies amount other tasks within the project.  When using PERT it is imperative to know all of the tasks that need to be completed prior to evaluating the duration of the project.  This could be a daunting task considering many projects have a scope of what needs to be completed but not necessarily every task that will be required to complete the scope.  If steps are missing in the PERT analysis the entire duration would have missing durations and less than optimal duration estimation.

The critical path method (CPM) creates a network diagram to determine what activities need to be accomplished to reach the end state of the project.  This critical path shows every activity that must be completed and the order in which they need to be completed.  This method is useful but lacks the necessary inputs such as resource constraints and potentially crashing the schedule by allocating more funding or more human resources to shrink the schedule.  The essay also delves into applying cost utilizing the CPM methodology.  While this is a good insight into understanding the actual cost associated with the work being performed there are other methods that better suit the objective of understand cost, schedule and project value.  Using Earned Value Management would be a better allocation of resources to determine the value of work being performed versus the cost of work.

References:

Fleming, Q. W., & Koffleman, J. M. (2010). Earned value project management. Project Management Inst.

Project Management Institute.(2008).A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide) Fourth Edition. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute.

Response #3

Project management is a series of soft and tacit skills that require the utilization of multiple tools and techniques to accomplish a project.  In response to the third essay there is a comparison between PERT and CPM both of which have been defined earlier.  With PERT, there is a scientific and mathematical calculation for duration of specific tasks.  From that calculation is then rolled up and project duration is then derived for a total project timeline.  CPM is used to calculate the critical path of a project and then associate an impact of that activity to the overall project.  The essay then goes into stating that a hybrid approach could be utilized to take advantage of both the PERT and CPM methodologies to counterbalance the negative aspects of each with the positive aspects of the other.  This allows the breakdown of tasks so that the project manager and project team get an overall feel for what needs to transpire and then the tasks can be manipulated into a schedule based on resources, timeline and critical path needs.

Utilizing multiple tools to provide a clear and justifiable answer to stakeholders is a skill that all project managers needs to obtain.  The more tools in the project management toolbox the more equipped and successful a project manager will be in the role of a project manager.  Taking what we know from each area we have gained knowledge in an applying those tools and techniques will provide a better and more accurate end result.

References:

Kaufmann, A., & Desbazielle, G. (1969). Critical path method. New York, NY: Gordon and Breach Science Publishers.

Project Management Institute.(2008).A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide) Fourth Edition. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute.

Response #4

Considering the most commonly utilized scheduling method is the Critical Path Method it is fairly common for the first go to technique is to understand what tasks must be completed to get from the initiation of a project to project completion.  The CPM determines the actual path of significant and necessary tasks for a project to travel down in order to meet the project’s goals and objectives set forth by the project stakeholders and steering committees.  The essay points out the major discrepancy between reality and project planning.  This is the interdependence of tasks along the critical path as well as other tasks that impact the critical path.

The other area of project scheduling is the Critical Chain Method (CCM).  This critical chain takes into account the project tasks as well as their resources needed to complete the tasks.  The method of CCM utilizes buffers or time built into the schedule to compensate for inadequate experience, resource allocation, funding issues or other risks within a project.  As any project manager knows there must be a safety stock of schedule built into the project but if the project manager or project team does not have the experience necessary to properly allocate resources, funding or time then the project could run the risk of over allocation of the company’s limited resources.

References:

Leach, L. P. (2005). Critical chain project management. Norwood, MA: Artech House, INC.

Project Management Institute.(2008).A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide) Fourth Edition. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute.