December 7, 2014

Project Management

A project is a series of related jobs or tasks directed toward a major output. They require a long period of time to perform.

Many projects are undertaken in manufacturing companies as well as service companies. Developing new product in the design department is a project. Establishing the production process, inspection process and the production line for a new product is a project. Industrial engineering studies to increase efficiency of processes are projects. Thus projects are undertaken by an organization to increase revenue sources, expand capacity, and to improve efficiency or reduce costs. Replacement of equipment is also an example of a project. Thus, it is clear that organization undertake every year number of projects. They are undertaken in marketing area also like  market research projects. In an higher educational institution organizing a research conference can be given as an example of a project. Similarly every year, new admissions can be cited as example of project which has a specific commencement date with admission announcement and gets completed on a specific date when all seats are filled and classes start.

Managing projects require planning, directing and controlling resources. Before a project can begin, senior management must decide which of three organizational structures will be used to tie the project to the parent firm: pure project, functional project, or matrix project. All three structures have advantages and disadvantages.

Projects begin with a statement of work, which can be a written description of the objectives. Breaking the work into smaller and smaller pieces that defines the system in detail is at the center of project management. Milestones or critical steps in the project might be completion of the design or production of a prototype. Maintaining control over projects requires the use of charts to show the scope of the entire project as well as the steps completed at a particular time. Other reports for detailed presentations of projects are used.  Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) shows projects in terms of tasks, subtasks, work packages and activities. A project is complete when all the tasks are completed.

Critical path scheduling is a graphical technique used to plan and control projects. Techniques like PERT and CPM display a project's completion in graphical form. PERT takes, the probabilistic times for the activities involved in the project from various vendors or contractors and summarizes them in expected completion time estimate for the project. It also gives an idea of the risk associated with this expected completion time. Both techniques focus on finding the longest time-consuming path through a network of tasks as a basis for planning and controlling a project. This longest sequence of activities is also the shortest processing time for a project. Slack time for an activity is the amount of time an activity can be delayed without affecting the overall completion time of the project. Non-critical path activities have some slack time. Managers also use PERT and CPM to compute the early start schedule and late start schedules for activities so as not to delay the entire project and change its original completion date. CPM also helps in developing cost estimates for accelerating activities by increasing resources and completing the project in a shorter period as compared to the period planned in the original plan in response to various delays as the project is executed.

Managers must consider the time to complete a project versus the cost to complete the project. Time-cost trade-off models have been developed to help managers with this task. Clearly identified project responsibilities, a simple and timely progress reporting system, teamwork, and good people-management practices are required in effective project management. Teams must have the commitment of top management as well as a talented project manager. CPM and PERT are simply tools to assist the manager in meeting these objectives.

What is Project Management?
Project Defined
Project Management Defined

Structuring Projects
Pure Project
Functional Project
Matrix Project

Work Breakdown Structure
Project Milestones Defined
Work Breakdown Structure Defined
Activities Defined

Project Control Charts
Gantt Chart Defined

Network-Planning Models
Critical Path Defined
CPM With a Single Time Estimate
Immediate Predecessors Defined
Slack Time Defined
Early Start Schedule Defined
Late Start Schedule Defined
CPM with Three Activity Estimates
Maintaining Ongoing Project Schedules

Time-Cost Models
Time Cost Models Defined
Minimum-Cost Scheduling (Time-Cost Trade-Off)

Managing Resources
Tracking Progress

Cautions on Critical Path Analysis


Case: The Campus Wedding (A)

Case: The Campus Wedding (B)

Case: Product Design at Ford


Summaries of all Chapters of Operation Management

MBA Core Management Knowledge - One Year Revision Schedule


  1. Nice Piece of information!!!! Hosted Project management software for contractors is also quite easy to use. When one purchases these tools, they can save time and money on staff training. Even inexperienced persons can be quickly updated on collaboration. Some providers also offer videos, screenshots and tips in the workspace to help the client get started. Keep on sharing… Thanks!!!

    1. Thank you Jamel Leal for the Comment. Best Wishes for the success of your book.