Thursday 17 February 2022

Perth Method – Project Phases

A project is a set of interrelated tasks aimed at achieving a certain result (construction of an object, production of a product, modernization of the company, writing a report, etc.).

To perform a particular task of the project, appropriate resources are needed: Materials (equipment, tools, etc.) and personnel (workers, engineers, researchers, etc.). Assigning a resource to an activity is called allocation; each activity can have a certain number of distributions.

Project management in a broad sense is an integrated system for organizing, planning and controlling the tasks of the project and the project as a whole.

Project organization is the definition and structuring of a set of interrelated tasks (works, activities) and resources that ensure the implementation of the project.

Project planning is the development of a schedule for the implementation of a set of interrelated tasks (works, activities) before the start of the project.

Project management in a narrower sense, as a series of defined steps, is the control, comparison, analysis, and decision-making of changes over the course of a project.

First, each project is characterized by a specific goal for which it is intended (obtaining additional income, winning elections, increasing the effectiveness of hostilities, etc.).

Secondly, each project is unique in some way – either in the goals pursued, or in the composition of the performers, or in the environment in which it is carried out. Or maybe all of the above.

Third, each project has a limited "lifespan." A successful project imperceptibly "dies" as soon as its goal is achieved. At the same time, the duration of the "life" of the project can be very different. For example, the training of users of the new version of MS Project can be organized and implemented within a month, while the project to build a ring road around St. Petersburg can take 4 years.

Fourthly (let's return to the definition of the project), each project is characterized by specific resources allocated for its implementation.

In real life, resources are always limited. Either in quantity, or in the time during which they can be used, or in quality (especially in the level of training of performers). In a sense, the time available to implement a project is also a limited resource.

Given the limited resources and time available, the interested party should take special measures to make the best use of them to achieve the project objective. That's what project management is all about.

Project scope (sometimes the term is replaced by "project content and boundaries") is a combination of the project goal and the planned time and cost to achieve it.

In other words, it is a kind of three-dimensional space (goal-time-money) in which the project participants and the project itself live.

Based on the introduced concept of scale, it can be said that project management seeks to maintain its original scale ("content and boundaries").

A more accurate definition of this term might be as follows: Project management is the process of planning, organizing, and monitoring the status of a project's tasks and resources in order to achieve the project goal in a timely manner.

In any case, every project manager should be prepared for the fact that at some stage there will be a discrepancy between the original plan and the real situation. The project manager must be prepared for the fact that at some point there will be a discrepancy between the original plan and the real situation.

Modern project management systems do not require special training from the user and provide simple and quick use of the system to solve a wide range of practical problems.

Traditionally, projects that include up to 80 tasks (works, activities) and 15 types of resources are called small projects. Projects with 80 to 400 tasks and 15 to 50 resource types are called medium projects, and projects with 400 to 1200 tasks and 50 to 150 resource types or more are called large projects.

To effectively organize, plan and manage the progress of various works, the entire process should be presented in the form of a logical sequence of certain tasks. Develop a so-called project task structure.

The logical sequence of actions of any process can have different visual representations. This can be a Gantt chart with varying degrees of task representation, a network diagram, a timeline, or some other view. Each type of presentation has its advantages and disadvantages, and together they greatly simplify the calculation of the cost of the project, its analysis and management.

After the project task structure is represented as a Gantt chart, network diagram, or other view, they are calculated using the Critical Path Method (CPM) or the PERT method.

The modern organization of companies requires the weakening of the rigid division into departments and the separation of tasks. Thus, product development is less the work of the inventor and more the result of the creative ideas and know-how of a coordinated implementation team. To ensure maximum efficiency at all stages of the innovation cycle, it is advisable to create appropriate organizational conditions.

Perth Method - Project Phases

Phases of the project
At the beginning of the project, the task of the project management is to formulate in detail the main strategy (for example, certain product or process innovations, the opening of a new field of activity, the preparation of cooperation). A project manager is appointed, project team members are selected, and the duration and budget of the project are determined. The more clearly the project objectives, intermediate goals, and milestones are articulated, the more effective project control can be afterwards.

Therefore, the work on the project is divided into three temporary phases:

  • Collection of information;
  • Overview of market demand;
  • Realization.

At each of these stages, the project team must pay attention to three areas – market, technology and organization– so that each subsequent step can be planned and controlled. Of course, the respective areas vary depending on the wording of the mission.

In the first stage (information gathering), all important market, technical and organizational data is collected, prepared and pre-structured accordingly and summarized by experts from various fields to form an interim report.

The second stage (market demand review) focuses on valuation issues. Based on the previous findings and jointly developed ideas, the market demand for the planned innovation is examined in detail, again in three areas: the action market, technology and organization, and a general conclusion is drawn.

Finally, at the third stage (implementation), specific goals and realistic measures for the introduction of innovation in the market and in the company are fixed. Here, activities also cover areas such as market, technology and organization.

Work on the project requires constant feasibility checks and effective monitoring of the project. It is recommended that you terminate the project immediately if the results of the project no longer allow the goal of the project to be considered realistic.

When managing any project, the following tasks should be ensured:

  • compliance with the deadlines for the completion of the project;
  • rational distribution of material resources and performers between the tasks of the project and in time;
  • timely adjustment of the initial plan in accordance with the real situation.
  • These three tasks are closely interrelated, and insufficient attention to either of them inevitably leads to problems in the other two areas. For example, failure to allocate resources inevitably leads to deviations from the planned deadlines for project tasks, and failure to adjust the original plan can negate all the work done.

For this reason, it is necessary to use special technologies for project management.

Of course, a sufficiently experienced (or arrogant) project manager may believe that his experience and intuition are enough to achieve his goals, but a competent manager is unlikely to dare to make the success of the company dependent on one person. Especially since people are known to make mistakes. Therefore, it is better to check subjective assessments with objective results obtained by appropriate methods that have a fairly strict mathematical basis. We are talking about the so-called network planning and project management (NPM) methods.

Organization of project management.

Basically, there are three possibilities as a form of organization.

Work on the project as an additional task.

That means weaving them into the normal rhythm of work. Management appoints a responsible project manager who simultaneously performs his normal tasks within the organizational chart, but at the same time leads the project team and has expert access to core personnel across departmental boundaries, plans resources and coordinates all innovation activities. This model is chosen for projects with limited time and resources.

There may be a problem that the project manager can have only a limited impact on employees in other departments due to the rigid hierarchy in the company. Work on the project is supplanted by everyday activities and "put to sleep". The double burden of project work and core function can lead to negligence. Therefore, an innovative project should be provided with enough space, capacity and resources.

A classic design organization ("company within a company").

In this model, which is chosen for complex and voluminous tasks, the importance of project work is especially emphasized in the organizational chart of the company. Teamwork on the project has a clear priority over the disciplinary relations of subordination of the classical departmental structure. The project is supervised directly by management, and the project manager, and in some cases individual members of the project, are fully or partially exempt from their normal activities.

Hybrid forms.

In practice, especially in medium-sized companies, mixed forms sometimes predominate.

It is possible that an experienced project manager is released and, depending on the project, specialized staff are involved, but at the same time they are engaged in their usual activities. In this case, all responsibility falls on the "project professional", who can fully concentrate on the implementation of the project and has more freedom in the placement of project personnel, covering the managers.

The second option is to appoint an internal project coordinator who occupies a high hierarchical position in the company and manages the project in addition to his usual work, but to whom a junior project engineer is assigned, devoting himself exclusively to the project.

Therefore, the appropriate form of organization should be individually selected for a particular project.

Work on the project will be successful if the following obstacles are eliminated:

  • outdated thinking about the boundaries between departments;
  • the old understanding of roles ("it's none of my business and therefore i'm not interested, you'll have to ask my boss");
  • dominance of hierarchy;
  • inertia of decision-making structures;
  • Conjugation of stable spheres.
  • Network planning and design
  • The method of network (or calendar) project planning is relatively young, but its pronounced practical orientation ensured its popularity immediately after its "birth".

In 1956, M. Walker, an informatics specialist at DuPont, together with D. Kelly, who worked in the capital planning team of Remington Red, managed to develop a simple and effective method for planning the modernization of DuPont plants. The method was based on the construction of the so-called network plans and was called the "Critical Path Method", abbreviated as ICP (the English version is critical path Method -CPM).

Almost at the same time, the US Navy created a method for analyzing and evaluating programs (it is curious that the Russian abbreviation for it never appeared, and the English version, PERT, from the Program Evaluation End Revie w Technique, continues to be used). The method was developed in the design of the Polaris missile system of lockheed Corporation, designed to equip submarines of the US Navy.

The main difference between the CPM and PERT methods is that in the first method, the duration of the work included in the project is assumed to be deterministic, while in the second method a probabilistic estimate of the duration of work is calculated. Later, both methods were combined under the common name PERT-CPM (the most common Russian version is the Network Planning and Management Method).

Meanwhile, the network planning method has proven itself in areas such as product development and production preparation, construction and reconstruction, research and development, and finally software development.

Network planning and management includes three main stages: structural planning, scheduling, and operational management.

The main purpose of structural design is to describe the composition and interconnection of technological operations necessary for the implementation of the project.

In network theory, these processes are called activities or tasks.

Also at this stage it is necessary to determine (or at least estimate) the duration of work.

The result of structure planning is a network project plan.

A network diagram consists of two types of elements—activities and events—and allows you to visualize the structure of a project in terms of its constituent activities.

In other words, the network shows the relationships between the works within the project and the order in which they are performed.

Mathematically, it is a directional graph in which each activity is represented by a directed arc (arrow), and each event is represented by a vertex (node). Each event is defined as the point in time when one activity (or group of activities) ends and another begins. Each work included in a network diagram is considered described (specified) if the number of events between which it is included and its duration are indicated.

Let's formulate the basic rules for building a network diagram.

Each activity is represented by one sheet and only one sheet, i.e. no activity should appear on the chart twice. If necessary, each activity can be divided into two or more parts, each of which corresponds to a separate arc. For example, programming a module can be represented as two actions: Entering the text of the program and debugging it.

No pair of activities should be defined by the same start and end events (otherwise two different activities will be identified in the same way). The possibility of such an ambiguous distribution of work exists when two (or more) works can be performed simultaneously.

No event can take place until all the work related to it has been completed;

No work arising from a particular event can begin until that event occurs; for example, programming of the first module cannot begin until the algorithm is completed. To eliminate ambiguity, a fictitious product and a fictitious intermediate event are introduced. The cost of time and resources to perform fictitious work is set to zero.

First, the network allows you to evaluate (determine) the time characteristics of the project and the activities it contains.

Critical work and critical paths

First of all, the network allows you to evaluate (determine) the time characteristics of the project and the works contained in it. In this context, so-called critical activities are the most important in creating a project plan.

A contract is considered critical if a delay at its commencement results in a delay in the overall completion date of the project. Uncritical work is characterized by the fact that the time interval between its early beginning and late completion is greater than its actual duration. In other words, every uncritical job has a time lag.

Based on the concept of critical work, let's introduce the concept of a critical path.

A critical path is a continuous sequence of critical actions that link the initial and final events of a network(s).

In terms of content, the duration of the critical path determines the minimum possible duration of the entire project (that is, it is impossible to complete the project faster for a built network). If you are not satisfied with the calculated length of the critical path, you need to reconsider the network structure.

But, as mentioned above, in order to create a critical path, it is necessary to identify all critical activities of the project. To do this, you need to find those activities for which the time reserve is zero.

A modified version of the Gantt chart.

In the Gantt chart, unlike the arcs in the network diagram, the lines denoting the project activity indicate the relative duration of the work. The main advantage of the Gantt chart is a visual representation of the work that is performed simultaneously. The Gantt chart also gives a fairly simple (though not very accurate) estimate of resource utilization. However, the Gantt chart is not suitable for quantitative analysis of the processes under consideration. Therefore, this form of diagram gained real popularity only after it was used in a modified form in network planning.

A calendar chart is a modified version of a Gantt chart. The source data used for the build is as follows:

the structure of project activities determined on the basis of the network;
the composition of the resources used and their distribution by type of activity;
real (calendar) dates, by which the start and end points of work and the entire project are fixed.
Tasks that need to be solved by using a schedule.

When analyzing the resulting schedule, as in analyzing the network, the focus is on the critical path. This is understandable: after all, a delay in the implementation of one of the activities along the way inevitably leads to a delay in the completion of the entire project. Therefore, resource planning (i.e., allocating resources between project work) begins with critical path work.

After the initial allocation of resources, the following types of tasks can be performed using a schedule:

  • Analysis of resource usage;
  • Changing the start and/or end dates of non-critical activities to make more efficient use of resources (e.g., more even);
  • Planning of the work schedule (calendar) of performers;
  • Analysis of project costs.
  • If the results for any of the indicators are unsatisfactory, the schedule will need to be adjusted to change the timing of the work and/or the allocation of resources, or to revert to the network plan and adjust it as a whole.

Unlike other mathematical methods of operations research (for example, linear and dynamic programming), the network planning method does not provide an "automatic" calculation of optimal project parameters. It only allows you to objectively assess these parameters for a given (chosen) variant of the structure of work and the distribution of resources. Accordingly, the results obtained from it should be considered as a recommendation with which the project manager can either agree or disagree. To answer the question of how good or bad a given project option is, the manager must clearly understand (or receive from management) what is the main goal of planning: reducing working hours, saving resources or finding a compromise option.

Since in practice everything ultimately depends on the resources available (if they were unlimited, everything would be much simpler), let's look at this concept in more detail.

Resource accounting.

The network planning method distinguishes between two main types of resources: renewable and non-renewable (consumable).

The first type includes the so-called performers - people and / or mechanisms that, having completed one task, can be "assigned" to another. Of course, performers are also subject to disposal, but it is assumed that their performance remains unchanged within one project.

Given this observation, it becomes clear that the concept of a work plan or calendar is very important for performer resources. Through it, the scope of work receives its specific temporal expression. For example, if an excavator considers its working day to be 4 hours, it will work on the above trench for 6 hours, while another excavator with a working day of 12 hours will work all 18 hours.

Non-renewable resources include raw materials, materials and energy. Obviously, once a ton of gravel has been used to build a facility, it cannot be used to build the next facility (although such cases, of course, do happen). Consequently, accounting for non-renewable resources used in the course of project implementation is always additional.

Tools to automate project management

The first systems made it possible to present the project in the form of a network plan, calculate the early and late start and finish dates of the project and display them on the time axis in the form of a Gantt chart. Later, such systems were supplemented with resource and cost planning functions, as well as tools for monitoring the progress of work.

To date, the number of such products is measured in dozens and even hundreds. The products on the software market differ in feature set, level of user support, reliability and, accordingly, cost. There are two approaches to classifying such products: by price (which is implicitly assumed to reflect the level of the product) and by the number of features implemented.

According to the first criterion, products are usually divided into high-end systems (from $ 1,000 and above) and entry-level systems (less than $ 1,000).

According to the second criterion, network planning and management tools are also divided into two groups (which basically correspond to the price classification): professional and desktop. It is believed that professional systems implement more complex algorithms for planning and analyzing projects, and their development requires deeper knowledge in the field of management.

At the same time, this classification of tools is becoming increasingly relative, as even the simplest of them provide a perfectly acceptable quality of planning, support the planning of projects consisting of tens of thousands of tasks and using thousands of types of resources, group work on projects and much more. A fairly well-established, "basic" set of functions implemented in almost all systems today includes the following:

  • Description of the logical structure of the project with an indication of the hierarchy of activities;
  • Calculation of the critical path, as well as calculation of time reserves for non-critical works;
  • the ability to specify any type of relationship between works, in contrast to the "classic" version of the PERT-CPM method, which provides only one type of communication - "end-beginning";
  • the ability to specify for each non-critical job how it should be scheduled ("as early as possible", "as late as possible", "fixed start date", "fixed end date");
  • Supports a schedule for an unlimited number of tasks taking into account their priorities;
  • The ability to choose the minimum unit of measurement of the duration of work and the entire project (in minutes, hours, days, etc.);
  • Work with the calendar (specifying working and non-working hours, weekends and holidays) with the ability to individually configure the calendar for each resource;
  • Assign resources to activities by specifying the type of resource (renewable or non-renewable);
  • Identification of conflicting and overloaded resources, the possibility of their "selection" (elimination of overload);
  • Record the initial (baseline) project plan and record the actual current state of work and the project as a whole;
  • Use of graphical tools to represent the structure of the project (both in the form of a Gantt chart and in the form of a network diagram, which in some packages is called a PERT diagram);
  • Ability to import/export project data to other project management systems and support SQL and ODBC standards;

Ability to prepare various project reports necessary for planning and control.

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