Any project, no matter what the outcome is supposed to be, has to be properly managed from outset to completion to make sure that the outcome is the one desired. Without some type of plan, a project can easily become so overburdened with cost and time overruns that it is better just to abandon it and move on. The problem is though that project management often requires a large amount of very complex steps which have to be coordinated in a specific order. To do this the manager has to understand the tools that are at his or her disposal, and they have to understand how to use those tools. The steps required are not inviolate, but it is wise to understand the different phases of project management and make sure that they are all given the proper care. Following is a research paper which looks at the project management process from all possible angles, and discusses the utility of each of these steps.
A project requires certain points that need to be coordinated correctly in order for all of the other pieces to work correctly. Sometimes it may not matter if the schedule is perfected to the nth degree, but most projects require that every tiny detail be ascertained and lined up properly. Also, a project schedule should make sure that the stages are clear for completion of various parts of the project.
Many managers will use different tools to assist them in the detailing of the project schedule because of the complexity of the undertaking (Mind Tools, 2009). One of the major tools that a project manager can use to make sure that everything lines up the way it is supposed to and that everything happens at the right time is a Gantt Chart (Mind Tools, 2009). This chart shows the manager what needs to be done before something else can be done, and helps line everything up correctly. This tool is used to make sure that the most efficient schedule is put forward at the beginning of a project. Besides a network analysis, a scheduler can also conduct a critical path analysis. This entails setting up the steps to be completed according to the "best line" (Mind Tools, 2009) for completing them. It is possible that a schedule may also be compressed to ensure that every step is scheduled with the utmost efficiency in mind. This can be done by either crashing an element or fast-tracking (paralleling) different stages (Mind Tools, 2009).
For a project to survive it is imperative that the workers receive the right supplies in a timely manner. This is one of the most important parts of the planning stage also. If a manager fails in this task then the project is doomed to failure right from the beginning (Henrie, 2006). The supplies must arrive in time, but they must also arrive in the correct sequence. Sometimes they are critical to a stage, but that particular material will not be usable until something else is done. Items such as concrete can only come at certain times in a project. Without the right supply chain timing, it is easy to ruin the chances that the process will succeed.
With management of supplies come some challenges that the manager must be constantly aware of. Henrie (2006) states that "some supply chain risks and challenges include lack of supplier attention, internal procurement challenges, critical material damaged in shipment, and supplier induced changes." The manager must remember that his or her project is not the direct concern of the suppliers. They probably have several people that they are working with at any given time, and they will sometimes lose focus when it comes to a specific project. Although this can mean that they are not called upon in future projects, it may be difficult or impossible to change in the middle of a project. Therefore, it is the job of the project manager to make sure that every supplier stays engaged in the project also. There may also be some difficulty with the orders that were placed for supplies because of too many people being involved on that side. If this is the case, then the manager needs to understand how the supplies are procured and make sure that no obstacles exist in the steady supply. Damaged materials can cause problems because they may be critical to a certain stage of the project, and having the damage repaired or new products procured can delay a project significantly. The manager has to take into account what the critical products are and make allowances for them so that their damage does not delay the project. Suppliers may also find that they are unable to meet the exact specifications required by the project manager. Thus, the manager needs to understand exactly what is needed and what acceptable substitutions would be.
Project Team Recruiting
It is important that the correct team members are selected for a project. Sometimes the manager will not have prior knowledge of the people who will be selected, but he or she needs to understand how the team members will need to be used. Thus, it is necessary that a thorough list of requirements be agreed upon prior to the team selection begins.
Researchers suggest a five step process to hiring team members for a project: "define project roles, search for team candidates, interview the candidates, test the candidates, and select the candidates" (Linman, 2011). The roles have to be set very early in the planning process. The management team needs to understand the distinct jobs they are recruiting for, and what the individual duties will be. The search will sometimes need to be both internal and external. It is possible that every position can be filled within a particular organization, but the possibility exists that outside subcontractors will be required. If this is the case, then the people need to understand the role they are required to fulfill, the project details, and the hierarchy of the project staff (Linman, 2011). Interviewing is relatively self-explanatory, but it mainly entails that the manager knows the roles well enough that he or she can pick the best candidate form among two to five applicants. The next step is not always necessary, but depending on the project, it may be necessary to run some tests to make sure that the people interviewed are actually appropriate on different levels for the project. Selection is easy once this process has been completed because the perfect candidates for the project should be readily apparent to the manager.
The project manager has to consider the resources that are available for the project, and what they will need to procure. After the team has been selected there is that resource secured. However, there may be a need to make sure that further team members are available in case someone is unable to perform their duties. Other resources include such items as supplies that will be needed, time and money (Kaiser Family Foundation, 2010). Allocation is the process of determining what resources need to be used when and in what quantities.
This will have to be a part of the original plan that is decided upon. The financial side of the equation is generally decided upon by the manager, the financial team and the heads of the company. The original allocation of money will have to be given prior to the start of the project, but contingencies will have to be made in case there are cost overruns. Time is a resource that is unforgiving, but if it is used wisely can be an ally. The manager will already have made sure that the original plan calls out specific periods of time with completion of certain events occurring within that frame. Time overruns can lead to cost overruns, so the time aspect needs to be handled very carefully. The manager also has to make sure that supplies are properly allocated to the area and part of the team where they are needed.
This section basically details which factor of control is the most important to a manager when it comes to finishing a project on time or finishing the project within the proposed budget. The manager must make educated assumptions based in what is known to determine which course is correct. Generally, this is between compressing the schedule and what the compression will cost against the entire cost of the project. The time-cost model makes the assumptions that "the normal cost for an activity is lower than the crash cost, there is a linear relationship between activity time and cost, and the resources are available to shorten the activity" (NetMBA, 2006). The normal cost of the activity will be less because shortening the activity means more manpower and a quicker supply of resources. This means that the decreased time has to make up for the added cost. The linear relationship suggests that as one increases or decreases,…