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Planning And Control Of Projects

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A project is a set of continuous and connected activities and operations. One activity or stage of operation once done is not repeated. Hence every project is exclusive and unique. An example of a project is to design a new car. This project involves activities like designing an entirely new or better function than the existing models. Thus a project is a series of correlated activities to achieve a common goal. The completion of a project on time depends on various variables or factors such as:

  • The factors which can not be controlled. These are unforeseen factors like environmental forces or fluctuation in the market or sudden dip or rise in demand.

  • Factors which can be controlled. These include alterations in the existing facility to accommodate expansion, hiring more employees and training existing ones, acquiring more machines.

  • The objective factor: The objective of a project is to complete all operations on time at minimum cost with the maximum utilization of resources.

EVENT:

An event denotes the beginning or the end point of an activity or operation. It is also referred to as a node. So a node or an event indicates the starting or the end of a project and signifies an important point in the project.

NETWORK DIAGRAM:

All activities and events in a project are connected to each other in a logical and sequential manner forming a network. Network diagrams represent the beginning and end of each activity and specify the predecessor and successor events. Also which activities are done simultaneously?

PROJECT NETWORKS

Consider the following project:
   Planning and control of production
If we draw a network diagram from the above table then the project can be shown as following:
   Planning and control of production

This above diagram shows that the starting activities are A and D. The nodes or events are labeled from A to G. The initial event is the one which has arrows coming out of it and none entering it.

Time management of projects: All the activities have a different time schedule.
  • There are projects for which there can be a fairly accurate estimation of time. In such cases time management is done by Critical Path Method (CPM)

  • There are other projects for which estimation of time is difficult. In these cases Programme Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT) method is followed.

Critical Path Method:

It is a process to plan and control projects where activity time is known. This method is followed when the time of completion of activity is known. The critical path is the longest route or path which is followed to get a project completed. The length of the critical path ascertains the minimum time in which a project can be completed. The critical path prioritizes the activities. It determines the activities are to be completed first. It also establishes the jobs or activities which are non critical and whose delay does not affect the master schedule of the project.

PERT:

In projects involving research and development, the time taken to complete the project can not be computed accurately. In CPM, the cost of the project is taken into account but in PERT, the control over time is given priority. Two types of estimates are done: normal estimate and crash estimate. The normal estimate of time represents the most likely time estimate in PERT. The crash estimate represents the significant reduction in time to complete the job. It means that the priority jobs are given the most resources and the process is speeded up to meet the deadlines. It is done by getting more employees to do overtime, increasing the workforce and acquisition of more equipment.

The projects can thus be planned and controlled by:
  • Listing the activities or operations to be done.

  • Then the network diagram is drawn and the critical path is located.

  • Then the least expensive and least time consuming activity is crashed(decreasing the time of the activity) and this is done till a critical path is obtained in which all jobs are at their crash time.

  • The process is then reversed by uncrashing(increasing the time on the activity) the most expensive activity first and proceeding to the least expensive one.

To understand the project planning and control, let's take an example of research and development in a pharma company.

The demand and need of a drug is first assessed in the market, then the medicines are developed using active ingredients. These medicines are then tested on random sample of people from a similar geographical region. Based on the result of these studies, the effectiveness and side affects are determined. Then depending on these conclusions, the drug is manufactured commercially. For this kind of an R and D project, time taken to complete it cannot be estimated accurately. So the resources are distributed accordingly to each stage of this project like recruiting the specialists and researchers and undertaking clinical trials. The project is done under controlled conditions.


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