Project planning & scheduling


Professionals in the industrial or business field would be very well aware that a Project is different from a regular production. Organizing and implementing for a new production set up or expansion or for new product in short is termed as ‘Project’ which may require expertise and a time frame ranging from a few months to few years even. The professional in charge of the entire activity at the employee level is designated as ‘Project Manager’. Once the project is executed and commissioned the production starts and the Project Manager is made either to look after the production unit set up or shifted to another project.

The Role of a Project Manager

The project manager’s job is important and challenging. He is responsible for getting work performed, but often has no direct, formal authority over most of the people who perform the work. He must often rely on broader knowledge of the project and skills at negotiation and persuasion to influence participants. He may have the assistance of a staff if the project is large.

Six basic functions that project management must address are:

1. Manage the project’s scope to define the goals and work to be done, in sufficient detail to facilitate understanding and correct performance by the participants.

2. Manage the human resources involved in the project.

3. Manage-communications to see that, the appropriate parties are informed.

4. Manage-time by planning and meeting a schedule.

5. Manage-quality so that, the project’s results are satisfactory.

6. Manage-cost so that, the project is performed at the minimum practical cost and within budget if possible.

Problems in Managing a Project

(i) Managing a project can be a complex and challenging assignment.

(ii) Since projects are one-of-a-kind endeavors, there may be little in the way of experience, normal working relationships or established procedures to guide participants.

(iii) A project manager may have to co-ordinate diverse efforts and activities to achieve the project goals.

(iv) Persons from various disciplines and from various parts of the organization who have never worked together may be assigned to the project for different spans of time.

(v) Sub-contractors who are unfamiliar with the organization may be brought in to carry out major portions of the project.

(vi) The project may involve a large number of inter-related activities performed by persons employed by any one of several different sub-contractors.

For the above reasons, it is important that the project leaders have an effective means of identifying and communicating the planned activities and the ways in which they are to be inter-related. An effective scheduling and monitoring method is absolutely essential for the management of a large project. Network scheduling methods such as, PERT and CPM have proven to be highly effective and valuable tools during both the planning and execution phases of projects.

Project Planning

Project planning includes all activities that result in a course of action for a project. Planning begins with setting well defined objectives such as implementing a new management information system. Also, planning involves decision making regarding resources to be committed, completion, priorities of activities etc.

Areas of responsibility must be identified and assigned. Time and resource requirements to perform the work activities must be forecasted and budgeted. Planning also involves establishing project boundaries and identifying controllable and uncontrollable variables that must be managed. Also, the performance criteria should be stated related to the project objectives and in measures of time, cost and quality characteristics.

Project Scheduling

Project scheduling establishes times and sequences of the various phases of the project. In project scheduling, the project manager considers the various activities of an overall project and the tasks that must be accomplished and relates them coherently to one another over the projects time horizon.

Techniques for scheduling projects include Gantt charts and network techniques such as PERT and CPM. Gantt charts do not reflect the inter-relationship among resources or the precedence relationships among project activities. Network techniques overcome this shortcoming of Gantt charts by including precedence relationships.