Managing Projects


One time only set of activities with a definite beginning and ending point in time.

Project management

Task of getting the activities done on time within budget and according to specifications.

A project is a one time only set of activities with a definite beginning and ending point. Projects vary in size and scope, from a NASA space shuttle launch to a wedding. Project management is the task of getting the activities done on time, within budget and according to specifications.

Project management has actually been around for a long time in industries such as construction and movie making, but now it has expanded into almost every type of business. What explains the growing popularity of project management? It fits well with a dynamic environment and the need for flexibility and rapid response. Organizations are increasingly undertaking projects that are somewhat unusual or unique have specific deadlines, contain complex interrelated tasks requiring specialized skills, and are temporary in nature. These types of projects don’t lend themselves well to the standardized operating procedure that guides routine and continuous organizational activities.

In the typical project, team members are temporarily assigned to and report to a project manager who coordinates the project’s activities with other departments and reports directly to a senior executive. The project is temporary: It exists only long enough to complete its specific objectives. Then it’s wound down and closed up., members move on to other projects return to their permanent departments or leaves the organization.

What are some popular scheduling Tools?

If you where to observe a group of supervisors or department managers for a few days you would se them regularly detailing what activities have to be done the order in which they are to be done, who is to do each and when they are to be completed. The managers are doing what we call scheduling. The following discussion reviews some useful scheduling devices. How do you use a Gantt chart? The Gantt chart is a planning tool developed around the turn of the century by Henry Gantt. The idea behind the Gantt chart is relatively simple. It is essentially a bar graph with time on the horizontal axis and the activities to be scheduled on the vertical axis. The bars show output, both planned and actual, over a period of time. The Gantt chart visually shows when tasks are supposed to be done and compares the assigned date with the actual progress on each. This simple but important device allows mangers to detail easily what has yet to be done to complete a job or project an to assess whether it is ahead of behind, or in schedule.

Exhibit shows a Gantt chart that was developed for book production by a manager in a publishing firm. Time is expressed in months across the top of the chart. Major activities are listed down the left side. The planning comes in deciding what activities need to be done to get the book finished the order in which those activities need to be done, and the time that should be allocated to each activity. The green shading represents actual progress made in completing each activity.

A Gantt chart, then, actually becomes a managerial control device as the manager looks for deviations from the plan. In this case, most activities were completed on time. However, if you look at the print galley proofs activity you will notice that it actually took two weeks longer than planned to do this. Given this information the manager might want to take some corrective action – either to make up the lost weeks or to ensure that no further delays will occur. At this point the manager can expect that the book will be published at least two weeks late if no corrective action is taken.

A modified version of the Gantt chart is load chart. Instead of listing activities on the vertical axis, load charts list either whole departments or specific resources. This information allows mangers to plan and control for capacity utilization. In other words load charts schedule capacity by workstations.