Friday 15 April 2022

Updating Project Plans to eliminate issues in project




The article discusses the process of updating project plans, on the basis of which the manager must make a certain number of decisions in order to timely eliminate the problems that have arisen during the performance of work.

Project planning is a complex and time-consuming process. Often, at this stage, it is very difficult to predict how the work will actually be performed: whether, for example, all the planned labor resources will be provided on time, what their actual productivity will be, how much influence external factors will have and how often risks will occur. 


In order for the project to be carried out according to the developed plan, at the stage of its implementation, the project manager needs to constantly monitor all the work carried out and the actual data provided by employees. This process is necessary for further updating the timing and duration of tasks, plans for labor costs, materials and output volumes (volumes of work) for the project.

Updating is the adjustment of project plans, according to the incoming actual data on the implementation of the project tasks. It is a complex and repetitive process that allows project plans to be developed taking into account internal and external factors in order to maintain and improve the performance of the project. In order for the results of updating to be as accurate as possible, it is necessary to make timely and daily records of the actual data.

When planning the duration of tasks, the project manager proceeds from the specifics of the work (production or office work) and carries out planning as follows:

  • Based on the volumes that need to be performed: how many units of production (volumes of work) need to be produced (performed) per day in order to release (fulfill) all the planned volumes during the period of the task; such planning is preferable when it is important to monitor the execution of the volume of work per day without taking into account the productivity of labor resources;
  • Based on labor costs: how many mandatory hours the employee needs to work per day; this approach is used to plan the work of office employees, where volumes are not always physically determined along with productivity;
  • Based on resource performance: how much productivity you need to work with, for example, an employee every day to meet a specified amount; is used to control not only the volumes produced, but also the labor costs every day.

Depending on how the project manager has planned the work and resources for the task, there are several ways to update the project data:

Updating the timing and duration of tasks from the actual volumes with fixed productivity and labor costs;
Actualization of labor costs from actual volumes with fixed terms and fixed productivity;

Updating the planned productivity from the actual volumes with fixed terms and fixed labor costs.

Updating of the duration and timing of tasks for labor costs and output volumes (volumes of work) can be carried out:

  • By planned performance;
  • By actual performance;

By effective actual performance.

After updating, plans "in the past" must necessarily be equal to the fact. This means that all planned data up to the point of updating must be completely replaced by actual data, provided that the general data of the initial plans are not exceeded, otherwise the process of further updating will be incorrect. First of all, such a replacement of the plan "in the past" (up to the point of actualization) with a fact is necessary to ensure that the updated plan can be executed, because if you leave the unfulfilled work in the past and do not take them into account in the new calculation, then it is absolutely certain that the new deadlines will not take into account the unfulfilled part, and therefore do not make sense.
As a result of updating, either the duration of the task or the planned performance will change, and the remaining planned data from the point of actualization to the end of the task should be distributed. Accordingly, if the actual data exceeds the planned ones to the point of actualization, that is, we have done more than planned, then the duration of the task should either be compressed or the planned productivity for the production of the remaining (not completed) part of the plan should decrease.
When the project manager updated the project plan, during which it turned out that the deadlines and the duration of the project had changed, he must find out the reason for the failure of the deadlines. Usually, such a reason can be:

  • Error in estimation during planning;
  • Insufficient number of resources - either the problem is in the incorrect planning of labor costs, or the heads of departments did not provide the required amount of resources on time;
  • Incorrect data on actual work costs;Low performance of resources (for various reasons: competence, weather, serviceability of equipment, etc.).
  • Having identified all the factors that had an adverse impact on the project, the project manager after updating should take a number of measures, depending on the situation:
  • Change the planned duration and deadlines of other project tasks;

At the stage of project work, a situation often arises when the project manager understands that in order to fulfill the planned amount of work (output) it is necessary to increase either productivity or the number of workers or equipment, but this is not always possible. Then the only option to resolve the situation after updating the plan is to increase the timing of the task and further control of the plans. With this in mind, the project manager has the opportunity to adjust plans for further tasks so that the deadlines of the entire project are not disrupted.

Reallocate project resources;

Another option for completing the planned scope of work on project tasks on time is to increase the labor costs. In this case, the project manager can redistribute resources: attract contractors to perform the work, redistribute resources from other project tasks, or increase the length of the working day. However, at the same time, costs will increase significantly, but the timing of the task will remain within the planned ones.

Increase the performance (up to the highest possible) of the master resources.

Another way is to increase the performance of leading resources. The leading resource is understood as a resource, on the productivity of which the speed of the planned volume of work (production of the volume of products) and the work of other employees depend. For example, if the project task is related to laying asphalt and an asphalt paver is planned on it, then the time to complete this task will be limited only by its productivity and the situation will not change from the fact that the project manager will increase the number of employees, but at the same time will not increase the productivity of the Paver (or their number).

Along with the change in terms, duration of planned work, output volumes, labor costs, updating, plans for expenses and materials are subjected. If the timing of tasks during updating has changed, then the costs may increase, as the cost of materials may increase (for example, the cost of fuel for cars), the cost of resource operation, the cost of renting equipment. In this regard, in order to avoid many problems, at the stage of implementation, the updating of the project must be carried out in planned and unplanned orders:

  • Planned updating - is carried out periodically at regular intervals, depending on the regulations established in the organization; allows you to identify the negative impact of external factors, such as errors in planning, budget and resource allocation. The more often the actual data is entered and updated, the more manageable the project will be;
  • Unscheduled updating - is carried out additionally, depending on the need: at the time of a sharp change in the influencing external factors, with the onset of project risks that were not taken into account at the time of project planning.

The information contained in the working (operational) plan of the project must be constantly monitored and updated during the implementation of the project by the project manager. Timely updating of plans will help to predict not only the duration of tasks taking into account the actual data, to determine the failure of the project deadlines, but also to develop in advance a strategy for further response to the current situation.

Updating allows you to identify favorable factors, if all the work was performed on time and with the desired result (as planned or even better) with the actualization there is an opportunity not only to reduce the timing of the project tasks, but also the costs. At the same time, if similar template projects are carried out in the organization in the future, then real data will remain that will help prevent large deviations of project plans from contract plans in the future.

The laboriousness of the updating procedure is very high, since it is necessary to collect factual data, recalculate the past period, recalculate the future period, analyze the newly obtained terms, analyze the newly received resource load, and equalize resources. Accordingly, it is recommended to update the plans using software tools.

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