Critical Chain Project Management

Critical chain project management (CCPM) is a method of planning and managing projects that emphasizes the resources (people, equipment, physical space) required to execute project tasks. It was developed by Eliyahu M. Goldratt. It differs from more traditional methods that derive from critical path and PERT algorithms, which emphasize task order and rigid scheduling. A critical chain project network strives to keep resources levelled, and requires that they be flexible in start times.

Critical chain project management is based on methods and algorithms derived from Theory of Constraints. The idea of CCPM was introduced in 1997 in Eliyahu M. Goldratt’s book, Critical Chain. Application of CCPM has been credited with achieving projects 10% to 50% faster and/or cheaper than the traditional methods (i.e., CPM, PERT, Gantt, etc.) developed from 1910 to 1950s.

According to studies of traditional project management methods by Standish Group and others as of 1998, only 44% of projects typically finish on time. Projects typically complete at 222% of the duration originally planned, 189% of the original budgeted cost, 70% of projects fall short of their planned scope (technical content delivered), and 30% are cancelled before completion. CCPM tries to improve performance relative to these traditional statistics.

With traditional project management methods, 30% of lost time and resources are typically consumed by wasteful techniques such as bad multitasking (in particular task switching), student syndrome, Parkinson’s law, in-box delays, and lack of prioritization.

In a project plan, the critical chain is the sequence of both precedence- and resource-dependent tasks that prevents a project from being completed in a shorter time, given finite resources. If resources are always available in unlimited quantities, then a project’s critical chain is identical to its critical path method.

Critical chain is an alternative to critical path analysis. Main features that distinguish critical chain from critical path are:

CCPM planning aggregates the large amounts of safety time added to tasks within a project into the buffers—to protect due-date performance and avoid wasting this safety time through bad multitasking, student syndrome, Parkinson’s Law, and poorly synchronized integration.

Critical chain project management uses buffer management instead of earned value management to assess the performance of a project. Some project managers feel that the earned value management technique is misleading, because it does not distinguish progress on the project constraint (i.e., on the critical chain) from progress on non-constraints (i.e., on other paths). Event chain methodology can determine a size of project, feeding, and resource buffers.

A project plan or work breakdown structure (WBS) is created in much the same fashion as with critical path. The plan is worked backward from a completion date with each task starting as late as possible.

A duration is assigned to each task. Some software implementations add a second duration: one a “best guess,” or 50% probability duration, and a second “safe” duration, which should have higher probability of completion (perhaps 90% or 95%, depending on the amount of risk that the organization can accept). Other software implementations go through the duration estimate of every task and remove a fixed percentage to be aggregated into the buffers.

Resources are assigned to each task, and the plan is resource leveled, using the aggressive durations. The longest sequence of resource-leveled tasks that lead from beginning to end of the project is then identified as the critical chain. The justification for using the 50% estimates is that half of the tasks will finish early and half will finish late, so that the variance over the course of the project should be zero.

Recognizing that tasks are more likely to take more time than less time due to Parkinson’s law, Student syndrome, or other reasons, CCPM uses “buffers” to monitor project schedule and financial performance. The “extra” duration of each task on the critical chain—the difference between the “safe” durations and the 50% durations—is gathered in a buffer at the end of the project. In the same way, buffers are gathered at the end of each sequence of tasks that feed into the critical chain. The date at the end of the project buffer is given to external stakeholders as the delivery date. Finally, a baseline is established, which enables financial monitoring of the project.

An alternate duration-estimation methodology uses probability-based quantification of duration using Monte Carlo simulation. In 1999, a researcher[who?] applied simulation to assess the impact of risks associated with each component of project work breakdown structure on project duration, cost and performance. Using Monte Carlo simulation, the project manager can apply different probabilities for various risk factors that affect a project component. The probability of occurrence can vary from 0% to 100% chance of occurrence. The impact of risk is entered into the simulation model along with the probability of occurrence. The number of iterations of Monte Carlo simulation depend on the tolerance level of error and provide a density graph illustrating the overall probability of risk impact on project outcome.

When the plan is complete and the project is ready to start, the project network is fixed and the buffers’ sizes are “locked” (i.e., their planned duration may not be altered during the project), because they are used to monitor project schedule and financial performance.

With no slack in the duration of individual tasks, resources are encouraged to focus on the task at hand to complete it and hand it off to the next person or group. The objective here is to eliminate bad multitasking. This is done by providing priority information to all resources. The literature draws an analogy with a relay race. Each element on the project is encouraged to move as quickly as they can: when they are running their “leg” of the project, they should be focused on completing the assigned task as quickly as possible, with minimization of distractions and multitasking. In some case studies, actual batons are reportedly hung by the desks of people when they are working on critical chain tasks so that others know not to interrupt. The goal, here, is to overcome the tendency to delay work or to do extra work when there seems to be time. The CCPM literature contrasts this with “traditional” project management that monitors task start and completion dates. CCPM encourages people to move as quickly as possible, regardless of dates.

Because task duration has been planned at the 50% probability duration, there is pressure on resources to complete critical chain tasks as quickly as possible, overcoming student’s syndrome and Parkinson’s Law.

According to proponents, monitoring is, in some ways, the greatest advantage of the Critical Chain method. Because individual tasks vary in duration from the 50% estimate, there is no point in trying to force every task to complete “on time;” estimates can never be perfect. Instead, we monitor the buffers created during the planning stage. A fever chart or similar graph can be created and posted to show the consumption of buffer as a function of project completion. If the rate of buffer consumption is low, the project is on target. If the rate of consumption is such that there is likely to be little or no buffer at the end of the project, then corrective actions or recovery plans must be developed to recover the loss. When the buffer consumption rate exceeds some critical value (roughly: the rate where all of the buffer may be expected to be consumed before the end of the project, resulting in late completion), then those alternative plans need to be implemented.

Critical sequence was originally identified in the 1960s.

Tzvi Raz, Robert Barnes and Dov Dvir, Project Management Journal, December 2003.

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Project Engineering

Project engineering includes all parts of the design of manufacturing or processing facilities, either new or modifications to and expansions of existing facilities. A “project” consists of a coordinated series of activities or tasks performed by engineers, designers, drafters and others from one or more engineering disciplines or departments. Project tasks consist of such things as performing calculations, writing specifications, preparing bids, reviewing equipment proposals and evaluating or selecting equipment and preparing various lists, such as equipment and materials lists, and creating drawings such as electrical, piping and instrumentation diagrams, physical layouts and other drawings used in design and construction. A small project may be under the direction of a project engineer. Large projects are typically under the direction of a project manager or management team. Some facilities have in house staff to handle small projects, while some major companies have a department that does internal project engineering. Large projects are typically contracted out to engineering companies. Staffing at engineering companies varies according to the work load and duration of employment may only last until an individual’s tasks are completed.

The role of the project engineer can often be described as that of a liaison between the project manager and the technical disciplines involved in a project. The distribution of “liaising” and performing tasks within the technical disciplines can vary wildly from project to project; this often depends on the type of product, its maturity, and the size of the company, to name a few. It is important for a project engineer to understand that balance. The project engineer should be knowledgeable enough to be able to speak intelligently within the various disciplines, and not purely be a liaison. The project engineer is also often the primary technical point of contact for the consumer.

A project engineer’s responsibilities include schedule preparation, pre-planning and resource forecasting for engineering and other technical activities relating to the project. They may also be in charge of performance management of vendors. They assure the accuracy of financial forecasts, which tie-in to project schedules. They ensure projects are completed according to project plans. Project engineers manage project team resources and training and develop extensive project management experience and expertise.

When use, an engineering company is generally contracted to conduct a study (capital cost estimate or technical assessment) or to design a project. Projects are designed to achieve some specific objective, ranging in scope from simple modifications to new factories or expansions costing hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars. The client usually provides the engineering company with a scoping document listing the details of the objective in terms of such things as production rate and product specifications and general to specific information about processes and equipment to be used and the expected deliverables, such as calculations, drawings, lists, specifications, schedules, etc. The client is typically involved in the entire design process and makes decisions throughout, including the technology, type of equipment to use, bid evaluation and supplier selection, the layout of equipment and operational considerations. Depending on the project the engineering company may perform material and energy balances to size equipment and to quantify inputs of materials and energy (steam, electric power, fuel). This information is used to write specifications for the equipment. The equipment specifications are sent out for bids. The client, the engineering company or both select the equipment. The equipment suppliers provide drawings of the equipment, which are used by the engineering company’s mechanical engineers, and drafters to make general arrangement drawings, which show how the pieces of equipment are located in relation to other equipment. Layout drawings show specific information about the equipment, electric motors powering the equipment and such things as auxiliary equipment (pumps, fans, air compressors), piping and buildings. The engineering company maintains an equipment list with major equipment, auxiliary equipment, motors, etc. Electrical engineers are involved with power supply to motors and equipment. Process engineers perform material and energy balances and design the piping and instrumentation diagrams to show how equipment is supplied with process fluids, water, air, gases, etc. and the type of control loops used. The instrumentation and controls engineers specify the instrumentation and controls and handle any computer controls and control rooms. Civil and structural engineers deal with site layout and engineering, building design and structural concerns like foundations, pads, structures, supports and bracing for equipment. Environmental engineers deal with any air emissions and treatment of liquid effluent.

The various fields and topics that projects engineers are involved with include:

Project engineers are often project managers with qualifications in engineering or construction management. Other titles include field engineer, construction engineer, or construction project engineer. In smaller projects, this person may also be responsible for contracts and will be called an assistant project manager. A similar role is undertaken by a client’s engineer or owner’s engineer, but by inference, these often act more in the interests of the commissioning company.

Project engineers do not necessarily do design work, but instead represent the contractor or client out in the field, help tradespeople interpret the job’s designs, ensure the job is constructed according to the project plans, and assist project controls, including budgeting, scheduling, and planning. In some cases a project engineer is responsible for assisting the assigned project manager with regard to design and a project and with the execution of one or more simultaneous projects in accordance with a valid, executed contract, per company policies and procedures and work instructions for customized and standardized plants.

Typical responsibilities may include: daily operations of field work activities and organization of subcontractors; coordination of the implementation of a project, ensuring it is being built correctly; project schedules and forecasts; interpretation of drawings for tradesmen; review of engineering deliverables; redlining drawings; regular project status reports; budget monitoring and trend tracking; bill of materials creation and maintenance; effective communications between engineering, technical, construction, and project controls groups; and assistance to the project manager.

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Project Sponsorship

Project sponsorship is the ownership of projects on behalf of the client organization.

There are two main differences between project sponsorship and project management. Firstly project sponsorship includes the identification and definition of the project whereas project management is concerned with delivering a project that is already defined, if only quite loosely.
Secondly the project sponsor is responsible for the project’s business case and should not hesitate to recommend cancellation of the project if the business case no longer justifies the project.

Project sponsors can encourage separation of decision making responsibilities between project manager and project sponsor, accountability for the realisation of project benefits, oversight of the project management function and can carry out senior stakeholder management.

The project sponsor or executive sponsor needs a range of skill sets, or at least access to skill sets which include appreciation of corporate strategy; ability to prepare a business case and profound knowledge of the organization’s operations. The project sponsor also needs to know his or her way around the organization and command respect within it. The project sponsor and project manager should form an effective partnership with the project manager orchestrating all players involved in delivering the project e.g. designers, manufacturers and contractors, whilst the project sponsor coordinates all departments of the client organization and associated stakeholders so as to integrate the delivered project into the client organization and take full benefits from it such that the business case is fulfilled.

Because the project sponsor is the ‘owner’ of the project from conception to commissioning and operation it is particularly important to achieve continuity of sponsor throughout the project yet correspondingly difficult to achieve because of the extended duration of sponsorship compared to project management.

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Change Control

15Change control within quality management systems (QMS) and information technology (IT) systems is a process—either formal or informal—used to ensure that changes to a product or system are introduced in a controlled and coordinated manner. It reduces the possibility that unnecessary changes will be introduced to a system without forethought, introducing faults into the system or undoing changes made by other users of software. The goals of a change control procedure usually include minimal disruption to services, reduction in back-out activities, and cost-effective utilization of resources involved in implementing change.

Change control is used in various industries, including in IT, software development, the pharmaceutical industry, the medical device industry, and other engineering/manufacturing industries. For the IT and software industries, change control is a major aspect of the broader discipline of change management. Typical examples from the computer and network environments are patches to software products, installation of new operating systems, upgrades to network routing tables, or changes to the electrical power systems supporting such infrastructure.

Certain portions of the Information Technology Infrastructure Library cover change control.

There is considerable overlap and confusion between change management, configuration management and change control. The definition below is not yet integrated with definitions of the others.

Change control can be described as a set of six steps:

Consider the primary and ancillary details of the proposed change. Should include aspects such as identifying the change, its owner(s), how it will be communicated and executed, how success will be verified, the change’s estimate of importance, its added value, its conformity to business and industry standards, and its target date for completion.

Impact and risk assessment is the next vital step. When executed, will the proposed plan cause something to go wrong? Will related systems be impacted by the proposed change? Even minor details should be considered during this phase. Afterwards, a risk category should ideally be assigned to the proposed change: high-, moderate-, or low-risk. High-risk change requires many additional steps such as management approval and stakeholder notification, whereas low-risk change may only require project manager approval and minimal documentation. If not addressed in the plan/scope, the desire for a backout plan should be expressed, particularly for high-risk changes that have significant worst-case scenarios.

Whether it’s a change controller, change control board, steering committee, or project manager, a review and approval process is typically required. The plan/scope and impact/risk assessments are considered in the context of business goals, requirements, and resources. If, for example, the change request is deemed to address a low severity, low impact issue that requires significant resources to correct, the request may be made low priority or shelved altogether. In cases where a high-impact change is requested but without a strong plan, the review/approval entity may request a full business case may be requested for further analysis.

If the change control request is approved to move forward, the delivery team will execute the solution through a small-scale development process in test or development environments. This allows the delivery team an opportunity to design and make incremental changes, with unit and/or regression testing. Little in the way of testing and validation may occur for low-risk changes, though major changes will require significant testing before implementation. They will then seek approval and request a time and date to carry out the implementation phase. In rare cases where the solution can’t be tested, special consideration should be made towards the change/implementation window.

In most cases a special implementation team with the technical expertise to quickly move a change along is used to implement the change. The team should also be implementing the change not only according to the approved plan but also according to organizational standards, industry standards, and quality management standards. The implementation process may also require additional staff responsibilities outside the implementation team, including stakeholders who may be asked to assist with troubleshooting. Following implementation, the team may also carry out a post-implementation review, which would take place at another stakeholder meeting or during project closing procedures.

The closing process can be one of the more difficult and important phases of change control. Three primary tasks at this end phase include determining that the project is actually complete, evaluating “the project plan in the context of project completion,” and providing tangible proof of project success. If despite best efforts something went wrong during the change control process, a post-mortem on what happened will need to be run, with the intent of applying lessons learned to future changes.

In a Good Manufacturing Practice regulated industry, the topic is frequently encountered by its users. Various industrial guidances and commentaries are available for people to comprehend this concept. As a common practice, the activity is usually directed by one or more SOPs. From the information technology perspective for clinical trials, it has been guided by another U.S. Food and Drug Administration document.

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Project Management Triangle

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The Project Management Triangle (called also the Triple Constraint, Iron Triangle and “Project Triangle”) is a model of the constraints of project management. While its origins are unclear, it has been used since at least the 1950s. It contends that:

For example, a project can be completed faster by increasing budget or cutting scope. Similarly, increasing scope may require equivalent increases in budget and schedule. Cutting budget without adjusting schedule or scope will lead to lower quality.

In practice, however, trading between constraints is not always possible. For example, throwing money (and people) at a fully staffed project can slow it down. Moreover, in poorly run projects it is often impossible to improve budget, schedule or scope without adversely affecting quality.

The Project Management Triangle is used to analyze projects. It is often misused to define success as delivering the required scope, at a reasonable quality, within the established budget and schedule. The Project Management Triangle is considered insufficient as a model of project success because it omits crucial dimensions of success including impact on stakeholders, learning and user satisfaction.

The time constraint refers to the amount of time available to complete a project. The cost constraint refers to the budgeted amount available for the project. The scope constraint refers to what must be done to produce the project’s end result. These three constraints are often competing constraints: increased scope typically means increased time and increased cost, a tight time constraint could mean increased costs and reduced scope, and a tight budget could mean increased time and reduced scope.

The discipline of project management is about providing the tools and techniques that enable the project team (not just the project manager) to organize their work to meet these constraints.

Another approach to project management is to consider the three constraints as finance, time and human resources. If you need to finish a job in a shorter time, you can throw more people at the problem, which in turn will raise the cost of the project, unless by doing this task quicker we will reduce costs elsewhere in the project by an equal amount.

As a project management graphic aid, a triangle can show time, resources, and technical objective as the sides of a triangle, instead of the corners. John Storck, a former instructor of the American Management Association’s “Basic Project Management” course, used a pair of triangles called triangle outer and triangle inner to represent the concept that the intent of a project is to complete on or before the allowed time, on or under budget, and to meet or exceed the required scope. The distance between the inner and outer triangles illustrated the hedge or contingency for each of the three elements. Bias could be shown by the distance. His example of a project with a strong time bias was the Alaska pipeline which essentially had to be done on time no matter the cost. After years of development, oil flowed out the end of the pipe within four minutes of schedule. In this illustration, the time side of triangle inner was effectively on top of the triangle outer line. This was true of the technical objective line also. The cost line of triangle inner, however, was outside since the project ran significantly over budget.

James P. Lewis suggests that project scope represents the area of the triangle, and can be chosen as a variable to achieve project success. He calls this relationship PCTS (Performance, Cost, Time, Scope), and suggests that a project can pick any three.

The real value of the project triangle is to show the complexity that is present in any project. The plane area of the triangle represents the near infinite variations of priorities that could exist between the three competing values. By acknowledging the limitless variety, possible within the triangle, using this graphic aid can facilitate better project decisions and planning and ensure alignment among team members and the project owners.

The STR model is a mathematical model which views the “triangle model” as a graphic abstraction of the relationship:

Scope refers to complexity (which can also mean quality). Resources includes humans (workers), financial, and physical. Note that these values are not considered unbounded. For instance, if one baker can make a loaf of bread in an hour in an oven, that doesn’t mean ten bakers could make ten loaves in one hour in the same oven (Due to the oven capacity).

For analytical purposes, the time required to produce a deliverable is estimated using several techniques. One method is to identify tasks needed to produce the deliverables documented in a work breakdown structure or WBS. The work effort for each task is estimated and those estimates are rolled up into the final deliverable estimate.

The tasks are also prioritized, dependencies between tasks are identified, and this information is documented in a project schedule. The dependencies between the tasks can affect the length of the overall project (dependency constrained), as can the availability of resources (resource constrained). Time is different from all other resources and cost categories.

Using actual cost of previous, similar projects as the basis for estimating the cost of current project.

According to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) the Project Time Management processes include:

Due to the complex nature of the ‘Time’ process group the project management credential PMI Scheduling Professional (PMI-SP) was created.

To develop an approximation of a project cost depends on several variables including: resources, work packages such as labor rates and mitigating or controlling influencing factors that create cost variances. Tools used in cost are, risk management, cost contingency, cost escalation, and indirect costs . But beyond this basic accounting approach to fixed and variable costs, the economic cost that must be considered includes worker skill and productivity which is calculated using various project cost estimate tools. This is important when companies hire temporary or contract employees or outsource work.

Project management software can be used to calculate the cost variances for a project.

Requirements specified to achieve the end result. The overall definition of what the project is supposed to accomplish, and a specific description of what the end result should be or accomplish. A major component of scope is the quality of the final product. The amount of time put into individual tasks determines the overall quality of the project. Some tasks may require a given amount of time to complete adequately, but given more time could be completed exceptionally. Over the course of a large project, quality can have a significant impact on time and cost (or vice versa).

Together, these three constraints have given rise to the phrase “On Time, On Spec, On Budget.” In this case, the term “scope” is substituted with “spec(ification).”

Traditionally the Project Constraint Model recognised three key constraints; “Cost”, “Time” and “Scope”. These constraints construct a triangle with geometric proportions illustrating the strong interdependent relationship between these factors. If there is a requirement to shift any one of these factors then at least one of the other factors must also be manipulated.

With mainstream acceptance of the Triangle Model, “Cost” and “Time” appear to be represented consistently. “Scope” however is often used interchangeably given the context of the triangle’s illustration or the perception of the respective project. Scope / Goal / Product / Deliverable / Quality are all relatively similar and generic variation examples of this, while the above suggestion of ‘People Resources’ offers a more specialised interpretation.

This widespread use of variations implies a level of ambiguity carried by the nuance of the third constraint term and of course a level of value in the flexibility of the Triangle Model. This ambiguity allows blurred focus between a project’s output and project’s process, with the example terms above having potentially different impetus in the two contexts. Both “Cost” and “Time” / “Delivery” represent the top level project’s inputs.

The ‘Project Diamond’ model engenders this blurred focus through the inclusion of “Scope” and “Quality” separately as the ‘third’ constraint. While there is merit in the addition of “Quality” as a key constraining factor, acknowledging the increasing maturity of project management, this model still lacks clarity between output and process. The Diamond Model does not capture the analogy of the strong interrelation between points of the triangles however.

PMBOK 4.0 offered an evolved model based on the triple constraint with 6 factors to be monitored and managed. This is illustrated as a 6 pointed Star that maintains the strength of the triangle analogy (two overlaid triangles), while at the same time represents the separation and relationship between project inputs/outputs factors on one triangle and the project processes factors on the other. The star variables are:

When considering the ambiguity of the third constraint and the suggestions of the “Project Diamond”; it is possible to consider instead the Goal or Product of the project as the third constraint, being made up of the sub factors “Scope” and “Quality”. In terms of a project’s output both “Scope” and “Quality” can be adjusted resulting in an overall manipulation of the Goal/Product. This interpretation includes the four key factors in the original triangle inputs/outputs form. This can even be incorporated into the PMBOK Star illustrating that “Quality” in particular may be monitored separately in terms of project outputs and process. Further to this suggestion, the use of term “Goal” may best represent change initiative outputs, while Product may best represent more tangible outputs.

Project Management 2.0

Project Management 2.0 (sometimes mistakenly called Social Project Management) is one branch of evolution of project management practices, which was enabled by the emergence of Web 2.0 technologies. Such applications include: blogs, wikis, collaborative software, etc. Because of Web 2.0 technologies, small distributed & virtual teams can work together much more efficiently by utilizing the new-generation, usually low or no-cost Web-based project management tools. These tools challenge the traditional view of the project manager, as Project Management 2.0 represents a dramatic increase in the ability for distributed teams’ collaboration.

While traditional project management structures focused on the paradigm of the project manager as controller, Project management 2.0 stresses the concept of distributed collaboration, and the project manager as a leader. Project management 2.0 advocates open communication. While traditional project management often was driven by formal reporting and hierarchical structures, project management 2.0 stresses the need for access to information for the whole team. This has led to one of the many criticisms of Project Management 2.0 – that it cannot scale to large projects. However, for distributed teams performing agile development, which are often emergent structures, the use of rich collaborative software may enable the development of collective intelligence

Common comparisons of traditional project management vs. project management 2.0 are listed in the table below.

Project Production Management

Project production management (PPM) is the application of operations management to the delivery of capital projects. The PPM framework is based on a project as a production system view, in which a project transforms inputs (raw materials, information, labor, plant & machinery) into outputs (goods and services).

The knowledge that forms the basis of PPM originated in the discipline of industrial engineering during the Industrial Revolution. During this time, industrial engineering matured and then found application in many areas such as military planning and logistics for both the First and Second World Wars and manufacturing systems. As a coherent body of knowledge began to form, industrial engineering evolved into various scientific disciplines including operations research, operations management and queueing theory, amongst other areas of focus. Project Production Management (PPM) is the application of this body of knowledge to the delivery of capital projects.

Project management, as defined by the Project Management Institute, specifically excludes operations management from its body of knowledge, on the basis that projects are temporary endeavors with a beginning and an end, whereas operations refer to activities that are either ongoing or repetitive. However, by looking at a large capital project as a production system, such as what is encountered in construction, it is possible to apply the theory and associated technical frameworks from operations research, industrial engineering and queuing theory to optimize, plan, control and improve project performance.

For example, Project Production Management applies tools and techniques typically used in manufacturing management, such as described by Philip M. Morse in, or in Factory Physics to assess the impact of variability and inventory on project performance. Although any variability in a production system degrades its performance, by understanding which variability is detrimental to the business and which is beneficial, steps can be implemented to reduce detrimental variability. After mitigation steps are put in place, the impact of any residual variability can be addressed by allocating buffers at select points in the project production system – a combination of capacity, inventory and time.

Scientific and Engineering disciplines have contributed to many mathematical methods for the design and planning in project planning and scheduling, most notably linear and dynamic programming yielding techniques such as the critical path method (CPM) and the program evaluation and review technique (PERT). The application of engineering disciplines, particularly the areas of operations research, industrial engineering and queueing theory have found much application in the fields of manufacturing and factory production systems. Factory Physics is an example of where these scientific principles are described as forming a framework for manufacturing and production management.  Just as Factory Physics is the application of scientific principles to construct a framework for manufacturing and production management, Project Production Management is the application of the very same operations principles to the activities in a project, covering an area that has been conventionally out of scope for project management.

Modern project management theory and techniques started with Frederick Taylor and Taylorism/scientific management at the beginning of the 20th century, with the advent of mass manufacturing. It was refined further in the 1950s with techniques such as critical path method (CPM) and program evaluation and review technique (PERT). Use of CPM and PERT became more common as the computer revolution progressed. As the field of project management continued to grow, the role of the project manager was created and certifying organizations such as the Project Management Institute (PMI) emerged. Modern project management has evolved into a broad variety of knowledge areas described in the Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK).

Operations management (related to the fields of production management, operations research and industrial engineering) is a field of science that emerged from the modern manufacturing industry and focuses on modeling and controlling actual work processes. The practice is based upon defining and controlling production systems, which typically consist of a series of inputs, transformational activities, inventory and outputs. Over the last 50 years, project management and operations management have been considered separate fields of study and practice.

PPM applies the theory and results of the various disciplines known as operations management, operations research, queueing theory and industrial engineering to the management and execution of projects. By viewing a project as a production system, the delivery of capital projects can be analyzed for the impact of variability. The effects of variability can be summarized by VUT equation (specifically Kingman’s formula for G/G/1 queue). By using a combination of buffers – capacity, inventory and time – the impact of variability to project execution performance can be minimized.

A set of key results used to analyze and optimize the work in projects were originally articulated by Philip Morse, considered the father of operations research in the U.S. and summarized in his seminal volume. In introducing its framework for manufacturing management, Factory Physics summarizes these results:

There are key mathematical models that describe the relationships between buffers and variability. Little’s law – named after academic John Little – describes the relationship between throughput, cycle time and work-in-process (WIP) or inventory.  The Cycle Time Formula summarizes how much time a set of tasks at a particular point in a project take to execute.  Kingman’s formula, also known as the VUT equation – summarizing the impact of variability.

The following academic journals publish papers pertaining to Operations Management issues:

Critical Path Method (CPM)

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The critical path method (CPM), or critical path analysis (CPA), is an algorithm for scheduling a set of project activities. It is commonly used in conjunction with the program evaluation and review technique (PERT). A critical path is determined by identifying the longest stretch of dependent activities and measuring the time required to complete them from start to finish.

The critical path method (CPM) is a project modeling technique developed in the late 1950s by Morgan R. Walker of DuPont and James E. Kelley Jr. of Remington Rand. Kelley and Walker related their memories of the development of CPM in 1989. Kelley attributed the term “critical path” to the developers of the Program Evaluation and Review Technique which was developed at about the same time by Booz Allen Hamilton and the U.S. Navy. The precursors of what came to be known as Critical Path were developed and put into practice by DuPont between 1940 and 1943 and contributed to the success of the Manhattan Project.

Critical Path Analysis is commonly used with all forms of projects, including construction, aerospace and defense, software development, research projects, product development, engineering, and plant maintenance, among others. Any project with interdependent activities can apply this method of mathematical analysis. The first time CPM was used for major skyscraper development was in 1966 while constructing the former World Trade Center Twin Towers in New York City. Although the original CPM program and approach is no longer used, the term is generally applied to any approach used to analyze a project network logic diagram.

The essential technique for using CPM is to construct a model of the project that includes the following:

Using these values, CPM calculates the longest path of planned activities to logical end points or to the end of the project, and the earliest and latest that each activity can start and finish without making the project longer. This process determines which activities are “critical” (i.e., on the longest path) and which have “total float” (i.e., can be delayed without making the project longer). In project management, a critical path is the sequence of project network activities which add up to the longest overall duration, regardless if that longest duration has float or not. This determines the shortest time possible to complete the project. There can be ‘total float’ (unused time) within the critical path. For example, if a project is testing a solar panel and task ‘B’ requires ‘sunrise’, there could be a scheduling constraint on the testing activity so that it would not start until the scheduled time for sunrise. This might insert dead time (total float) into the schedule on the activities on that path prior to the sunrise due to needing to wait for this event. This path, with the constraint-generated total float would actually make the path longer, with total float being part of the shortest possible duration for the overall project. In other words, individual tasks on the critical path prior to the constraint might be able to be delayed without elongating the critical path; this is the ‘total float’ of that task. However, the time added to the project duration by the constraint is actually critical path drag, the amount by which the project’s duration is extended by each critical path activity and constraint.

A project can have several, parallel, near critical paths; and some or all of the tasks could have ‘free float’ and/or ‘total float’. An additional parallel path through the network with the total durations shorter than the critical path is called a sub-critical or non-critical path. Activities on sub-critical paths have no drag, as they are not extending the project’s duration.

CPM analysis tools allow a user to select a logical end point in a project and quickly identify its longest series of dependent activities (its longest path). These tools can display the critical path (and near critical path activities if desired) as a cascading waterfall that flows from the project’s start (or current status date) to the selected logical end point.

Although the activity-on-arrow diagram (PERT Chart) is still used in a few places, it has generally been superseded by the activity-on-node diagram, where each activity is shown as a box or node and the arrows represent the logical relationships going from predecessor to successor as shown here in the “Activity-on-node diagram”.

In this diagram, Activities A, B, C, D, and E comprise the critical or longest path, while Activities F, G, and H are off the critical path with floats of 15 days, 5 days, and 20 days respectively. Whereas activities that are off the critical path have float and are therefore not delaying completion of the project, those on the critical path will usually have critical path drag, i.e., they delay project completion. The drag of a critical path activity can be computed using the following formula:

These results, including the drag computations, allow managers to prioritize activities for the effective management of project, and to shorten the planned critical path of a project by pruning critical path activities, by “fast tracking” (i.e., performing more activities in parallel), and/or by “crashing the critical path” (i.e., shortening the durations of critical path activities by adding resources).

Critical path drag analysis has also been used to optimize schedules in processes outside of strict project-oriented contexts, such as to increase manufacturing throughput by using the technique and metrics to identify and alleviate delaying factors and thus reduce assembly lead time.

Crash duration is a term referring to the shortest possible time for which an activity can be scheduled. It can be achieved by shifting more resources towards the completion of that activity, resulting in decreased time spent and often a reduced quality of work, as the premium is set on speed.
Crash duration is typically modeled as a linear relationship between cost and activity duration; however, in many cases a convex function or a step function is more applicable.

Originally, the critical path method considered only logical dependencies between terminal elements. Since then, it has been expanded to allow for the inclusion of resources related to each activity, through processes called activity-based resource assignments and resource leveling. A resource-leveled schedule may include delays due to resource bottlenecks (i.e., unavailability of a resource at the required time), and may cause a previously shorter path to become the longest or most “resource critical” path. A related concept is called the critical chain, which attempts to protect activity and project durations from unforeseen delays due to resource constraints.

Since project schedules change on a regular basis, CPM allows continuous monitoring of the schedule, which allows the project manager to track the critical activities, and alerts the project manager to the possibility that non-critical activities may be delayed beyond their total float, thus creating a new critical path and delaying project completion. In addition, the method can easily incorporate the concepts of stochastic predictions, using the program evaluation and review technique (PERT) and event chain methodology.

Currently, there are several software solutions available in industry that use the CPM method of scheduling; see list of project management software. The method currently used by most project management software is based on a manual calculation approach developed by Fondahl of Stanford University.

A schedule generated using the critical path techniques often is not realized precisely, as estimations are used to calculate times: if one mistake is made, the results of the analysis may change. This could cause an upset in the implementation of a project if the estimates are blindly believed, and if changes are not addressed promptly. However, the structure of critical path analysis is such that the variance from the original schedule caused by any change can be measured, and its impact either ameliorated or adjusted for. Indeed, an important element of project postmortem analysis is the as built critical path (ABCP), which analyzes the specific causes and impacts of changes between the planned schedule and eventual schedule as actually implemented.

Management Process

Management process is a process of setting goals, planning and/or controlling the organizing and leading the execution of any type of activity, such as:

An organization’s senior management is responsible for carrying out its management process. However, this is not always the case for all management processes, for example, it is the responsibility of the project manager to carry out a project management process.

Planning, it determines the objectives, evaluate the different alternatives and choose the best

Organizing, define group’s functions, establish relationships and defining authority and responsibility

Staffing, recruitment or placement and selection or training takes place for the development of members in the firm

directing, is to give the Direction to the employees.

Project Workforce Management (PWM)

Project workforce management is the practice of combining the coordination of all logistic elements of a project through a single software application (or workflow engine). This includes planning and tracking of schedules and mileposts, cost and revenue, resource allocation, as well as overall management of these project elements. Efficiency is improved by eliminating manual processes, like spreadsheet tracking to monitor project progress. It also allows for at-a-glance status updates and ideally integrates with existing legacy applications in order to unify ongoing projects, enterprise resource planning (ERP) and broader organizational goals. There are a lot of logistic elements in a project. Different team members are responsible for managing each element and often, the organisation may have a mechanism to manage some logistic areas as well.

By coordinating these various components of project management, workforce management and financials through a single solution, the process of configuring and changing project and workforce details is simplified.

A project workforce management system defines project tasks, project positions, and assigns personnel to the project positions. The project tasks and positions are correlated to assign a responsible project position or even multiple positions to complete each project task. Because each project position may be assigned to a specific person, the qualifications and availabilities of that person can be taken into account when determining the assignment. By associating project tasks and project positions, a manager can better control the assignment of the workforce and complete the project more efficiently.

When it comes to project workforce management, it is all about managing all the logistic aspects of a project or an organisation through a software application. Usually, this software has a workflow engine defined. Therefore, all the logistic processes take place in the workflow engine.

This invention relates to project management systems and methods, more particularly to a software-based system and method for project and workforce management.

Due to the software usage, all the project workflow management tasks can be fully automated without leaving many tasks for the project managers. This returns high efficiency to the project management when it comes to project tracking proposes. In addition to different tracking mechanisms, project workforce management software also offer a dashboard for the project team. Through the dashboard, the project team has a glance view of the overall progress of the project elements.

Most of the times, project workforce management software can work with the existing legacy software systems such as ERP (enterprise resource planning) systems. This easy integration allows the organisation to use a combination of software systems for management purposes.

Good project management is an important factor for the success of a project. A project may be thought of as a collection of activities and tasks designed to achieve a specific goal of the organisation, with specific performance or quality requirements while meeting any subject time and cost constraints. Project management refers to managing the activities that lead to the successful completion of a project. Furthermore, it focuses on finite deadlines and objectives. A number of tools may be used to assist with this as well as with assessment.

Project management may be used when planning personnel resources and capabilities. The project may be linked to the objects in a professional services life cycle and may accompany the objects from the opportunity over quotation, contract, time and expense recording, billing, period-end-activities to the final reporting. Naturally the project gets even more detailed when moving through this cycle.

For any given project, several project tasks should be defined. Project tasks describe the activities and phases that have to be performed in the project such as writing of layouts, customising, testing. What is needed is a system that allows project positions to be correlated with project tasks. Project positions describe project roles like project manager, consultant, tester, etc. Project-positions are typically arranged linearly within the project. By correlating project tasks with project positions, the qualifications and availability of personnel assigned to the project positions may be considered.

Good project management should:

When it comes to project workforce management, it is all about managing all the logistic aspects of a project or an organisation through a software application. Usually, this software has a workflow engine defined in them. So, all the logistic processes take place in the workflow engine.

The regular and most common types of tasks handled by project workforce management software or a similar workflow engine are:

Regularly monitoring your project’s schedule performance can provide early indications of possible activity-coordination problems, resource conflicts, and possible cost overruns. To monitor schedule performance. Collecting information and evaluating it ensure a project accuracy.

The project schedule outlines the intended result of the project and what’s required to bring it to completion. In the schedule, we need to include all the resources involved and cost and time constraints through a work breakdown structure (WBS). The WBS outlines all the tasks and breaks them down into specific deliverables.

The importance of tracking actual costs and resource usage in projects depends upon the project situation.

Tracking actual costs and resource usage is an essential aspect of the project control function.

Organisational profitability is directly connected to project management efficiency and optimal resource utilisation. To sum up, organisations that struggle with either or both of these core competencies typically experience cost overruns, schedule delays and unhappy customers.

The focus for project management is the analysis of project performance to determine whether a change is needed in the plan for the remaining project activities to achieve the project goals.

Risk identification consists of determining which risks are likely to affect the project and documenting the characteristics of each.

Project communication management is about how communication is carried out during the course of the project

It is of no use completing a project within the set time and budget if the final product is of poor quality. The project manager has to ensure that the final product meets the quality expectations of the stakeholders. This is done by good:

There are three main differences between Project Workforce Management and traditional project management and workforce management disciplines and solutions:

All project and workforce processes are designed, controlled and audited using a built-in graphical workflow engine. Users can design, control and audit the different processes involved in the project. The graphical workflow is quite attractive for the users of the system and allows the users to have a clear idea of the workflow engine.

Project Workforce Management provides organization and work breakdown structures to create, manage and report on functional and approval hierarchies, and to track information at any level of detail. Users can create, manage, edit and report work breakdown structures. Work breakdown structures have different abstraction levels, so the information can be tracked at any level. Usually, project workforce management has approval hierarchies. Each workflow created will go through several records before it becomes an organisational or project standard. This helps the organisation to reduce the inefficiencies of the process, as it is audited by many stakeholders.

Unlike traditional disconnected project, workforce and billing management systems that are solely focused on tracking IT projects, internal workforce costs or billable projects, Project Workforce Management is designed to unify the coordination of all project and workforce processes, whether internal, shared (IT) or billable.

A project workforce management system defines project tasks, project positions and assigns personnel to the project positions. The project tasks and project positions are correlated to assign a responsible project position or positions to complete each project task. Because each project position may be assigned to a specific person, the qualification and availabilities of the person can be taken into account when determining the assignment. By correlating the project tasks and project positions, a manager can better control the assignment of the workforce and complete projects more efficiently.

Project workflow management is one of the best methods for managing different aspects of project. If the project is complex, then the outcomes for the project workforce management could be more effective.

For simple projects or small organisations, project workflow management may not add much value, but for more complex projects and big organisations, managing project workflow will make a big difference. This is because that small organisations or projects do not have a significant overhead when it comes to managing processes. There are many project workforce management, but many organisations prefer to adopt unique solutions.

Therefore, organisation gets software development companies to develop custom project workflow managing systems for them. This has proved to be the most suitable way of getting the best project workforce management system acquired for the company.