Operations Management / Supply Chain Management

Module 02.01 Key Concept: Project Planning, Scheduling and Controlling

Project Management processes and roles are related to Planning, Scheduling and Controlling activities.

Project Planning include the establishment of objectives, identification of needed resources, creation of a Work Break-Down Structure and establishment of an appropriate organization.

Projects often are organized around a temporary organizations structure that use specialists from different functions in the organization.  A Project Manager is selected to coordinate project activities and monitor schedule and costs.  In some cases companies create permanent “Matrix” Organizations that handle single or multiple projects and remain in place without disbanding after a project is finished.  You can see many different derivations employed and all have value.  It is up to company leaders to decide the best approach for them.  Non-Matrix organizations work best when:

  • Work can be defined with a specific goal and deadline
  •  The job is unique or somewhat unfamiliar to the existing organization
  •  The work contains complex interrelated tasks requiring specialized skills
  •  The project is temporary but critical to the organization
  •  The project cuts across organizational lines

A Work Breakdown structure is established by each Project Team to provide an overview of the Project Purpose and Key Deliverables.  It also provides information regarding the major Tasks and Sub-Tasks that will need to be completed during the duration of the project itself.  These are finally translated int detailed Activities (“Work Packages”) that will be completed.  So, the Work Breakdown Structure “frames” the beginning of a detailed Project Plan.

Project Scheduling includes the identification of detailed project activities with specific Start and End time and the creation of a network diagram showing the inter-relationships between various tasks.  This provides a “road map” to follow throughout the project.

Project scheduling ensures that all activities are planned for and that their order of performance is accounted for.  It also provides and documents activity time estimates so that the overall project time-line can be determined and validated.

Project Scheduling thus:

  • Shows the relationship of each activity to others and to the whole project
  • Identifies the precedence relationships among activities
  • Encourages the setting of realistic time and cost estimates for each activity
  • Helps make better use of people, money, and material resources by identifying critical bottlenecks in the project

There are three general Project Management techniques that are described and illustrated with examples in the text:  Gantt Chart, Critical Path (CPM) and Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT).

There is a continuous improvement tool called the Plan > Do > Check > Act cycle.  For any business process you create a plan, implement the plan, measure results at each stage and then take follow-on actions as required.  This represents the essence of “Controlling” a project.  Management is expected to monitor project progress, compare status vs. the plan and then either revise the plan or take appropriate action as required to keep the project on time and within budget.

Project Controlling requires the close monitoring of resources, costs, quality and budgets.  Feedback enables revision of the project plan and the shifting of resources.  Project Teams have the ability to employ many computerized tools to produce extensive reports.  These reports usually provide:

  • Detailed cost breakdowns for each task
  • Total program labor curves
  • Cost distribution tables
  • Functional cost and hour summaries
  • Raw materials and expenditure forecasts
  • Variance reports
  • Time analysis reports
  • Work status reports