PROJECT MANAGEMENT AND CONTROL
This assignment is a critical reference research report about the project planning, the planning structure and the importance of project plan integrity, with everything these concepts include, in terms of project management.
At this point, some historical hints will be presented. According to Najmi (2011), the first complex works (e.g. Egyptian Pyramids) needed effective management but very little attention was paid to the people working on these projects and to how much time and money they actually were spent on the works (also Mustafa Janem, 2011). It was only after the 19th century that the management principles started to evolve because the projects were bigger: lots of people were working on them and there was a huge demand for materials, machinery, equipment etc. That century started what today is called Project Management (Najmi, 2011).
Unfortunately, there was no specific association until the 1967. On that year, the International Project Management Association was established. Two years later, on 1969, there was established the Project Management Institute, which published the Project Management Body Of Knowlegde Guide (PMBOK; Najmi, 2011).
After the 1980s, the attention forwarded to other areas. These areas included need of determination, feasibility studies, analysis of values, risk management and project startup. Generally, there was an apparent need of compatibility of the products with Microsoft Windows (Mustafa Janem, 2011).
The Project Management is usually something unique, that happens in a certain period of time (Najmi, 2011). Every project consists of three basic dimensions, time, cost and stability (Mustafa Janem, 2011). An essential part of it is planning, which is linked to the success of the project (Zwikael et al., 2014), which is the ultimate purpose of each project (Heravi, Coffey & Tringunarsyah, 2017).
According to Volk and his colleagues (2018), the project planning has, first of all, a specific scope, as specific area of applicaiton. Secondly, it is important to mention that it’s based on the feasibility information, the experience data, the work that is being put on project activities and the uncertainty (a situation in which the outcomes are not known; Giezen, 2012). During project planning, an effort of formalizing decision-making activities takes place. These activities include articulation, rationalization and decomposition (Serrandor & Turner, 2015). Projects may have two types and two orientations. The types include the public and the private one and the orientation, the intern projects and he projects for market (Radujkovic & Sjekavica, 2017).
An important part of the project preparation and planning are the stakeholders. The outcomes and the project itself most of the times are affected by the demands and objectives of the stakeholders (Heravi, Coffey and Tringunasyah, 2015).
Two other important aspects are the project’s primary concerns and the productivity related attributes (Stylianou & Andreou, 2016). As stated before, the key elements/criteria of a project are time, cost (or budget), performance (or quality) and, as Walker mentions, customer relations and these are important in order for the achievement of the project objectives (Helgadottir, 2008; Najmi, 2011). Although, there are some “prerequisites” for this achievement. Firstly, it is vital that the right people are working on each time project and they balance effectively both the cost and the project duration. These people must prevent three things: a) the unnecessary costs, b) the overruns in the schedule and c) any reduction in the quality of the product. In order for this to be done, the people working on the project must be really productive in every activity of the project and they must communicate and collaborate. Of course, this procedure is reflected on the “triangle”, the duration and cost of the project and the quality of the product (Stylianou & Andreou, 2016). In other words, “if major parties of a contract are not committed to properly carry out their responsibilities, it is likely to adversely affect the final project quality level” (Heravi, Coffey and Tringunasyah, 2015).
There are some projects, though, that might be much complicated. For example, transportation projects. These ones are called mega infrastructure projects. The drawbacks of this type of projects are that they cost a lot, they require a long time to be completed and, sometimes, they “do not deliver on promises of patronage”. In this case, a reduction of the complexity is essential, so that the planning becomes more manageable (Giezen, 2012). In this way, the final quality is much better, because the quality practices are applied at the beginning of the project: «the lever of ability to impact the final project characteristics is at its highest at the beginning of the project and reduces as the project progresses” (Heravi, Coffey and Tringunasyah, 2015). An effective way for someone to measure the completeness of a project is the Project Definition Rate Index (PDRI; Serradon & Turner, 2015).
Structure of project plans
Every project needs an appropriate plan so it can function. Drob (2012) has demonstrated the project planning components. She supports that the elements are nine: 1) the objectives, which should be accomplished within a deadline, 2) the program, the strategy and the action need to be taken for the accomplishment of the objectives, 3) the schedule, that shows when an activity starts and finishes, 4) the budget, the expenditures need to be made for the objectives’ accomplishment, 5) the forecast, that shows the future status of the project, 6) the organisation, which is responsible for two things, the establishment of the team’s components and the team’s assigned duties, 7) the policy, which provides a general guide for the conduction of the project activities, 8) the procedure, which is important for the chronological sequence of the activities that must be undertaken and 9) the standard, which means that there is a unanimously acceptable level of performance (Drob, 2012).
On the other hand, Heravi, Coffey and Tringunarsyah (2017), state that the project planning process consists of five phases. The first phase includes a provision of clear goals and directions about the tasks of the projects; in this phase it is essential that the projects fulfill the organisation’s strategy; also, the allocation of the team members happens here and now it’s the time for a clarification of the project in order for the member to prepare the appropriate plan. The second one is the phase of systematic identification. At this moment there must be a complete understanding of the project stakeholders and their needs and requirements; additionally, in this phase happens the identification of the customers and their expectations, in a way that there are not any perception gaps. The third phase is the phase of implementation of the activities which must result in the delivery of the final product, without any deficits. The final design should be effective, in terms of specification of the product, quality of the planning tools and suitable technology for the industry, on the basis of the stakeholder’s needs. The next phase accommodates the process on its whole, as the elements of the project must be able to deliver it according to the initial plan and design. That means that the process must be in accordance with the project strategic objectives. The final phase, if everything else worked, allows the closing of the operation gap; in the final stage of the planning process, the plans are developed and transferred efficiently over to the operational team (Heravi, Coffey and Tringunasyah, 2015).
Najmi (2011) and Mustafa Janem (2011) believe that the Project Life Cycle doesn’t consist of five phases but of four phases. The first one is the Initiation Phase: here is the basic creation of the project; firstly there is the identification of the specification and all the requirements and the project is being established within the chart. The second one is the Planning Phase: all the studying is getting done now. The working members study and create the business requirements, contemplate the general details of the project (schedule, cost, starting and finishing of each activity), plan the resources they will need and at the end they identify the type of work that needs to be done. The third phase is the Execution Phase or Operational Phase, where the actual body of the project is built; the Execution Phase includes some sub-phases, like the time management, the change management, the risk management, the cost management, the quality management and the software management. Finally, the last phase is the Closing Phase and, as its name states, the project is finalized and closed (Mustafa Janem, 2011; Najmi, 2011).
The previous author also supports that the project structure plan consists of four elements. These elements are the actual project structure plan, the flow chart, the milestone plane and the details. In the structure plan the work units and tasks are assigned to each working member and there is a highlight of who is in charge of the task and when this task should be done. The flow chart is a tool with which someone can see clearly when is the starting point and the ending point of each task/activity. The milestone plan helps with the discovery of the project’s status; in fact, it works as a test for the goals and checks if the goals are completed or not. The last important part of the plan is the details. The details “define the quality of planning”. The more details the working team has, the more assured they can me during the planning process (Najmi, 2011). Every planning needs quality management, which “documents how the project will demonstrate compliance with quality requirements” (Drob, 2013).
Moving on, it is important to mention ten steps the team member need to take during a project. 1) Creation of the project plan: a definition of the tasks need to be undertaken to complete a project and an assessment of the effort which is needed for the tasks; 2) creation of the resource plan: it includes the labor and the equipment, the roles and responsibilities and the items and quantities of the materials; 3) creation of the financial plan: identification of the budget and the labor and the equipment cost; furthermore, it includes a schedule of all the expenses; 4) creation of a quality plan: definition of “quality” for the specific project and “criteria and standards of customer, quality assurance plan and quality control plan”; 5) creation of a risk plan: prediction of possible risks and action for prevention of them; 6) creation of an acceptance plan: the project will be considered successful only when he deliverables meet the requirements and expectations of the stakeholders; 7) creation of a communications plan: the stakeholders must be informed of the progress of the project; 8) creation of a procurement plan: identification of which elements of the products are going to be obtained from external suppliers, a detailed description of the product and of the selection process for the supplier; 9) contract with the suppliers: request for submission of offers and list of the capable suppliers, and 10) performance of a phase review: “a checkpoint to ensure the project has been well planned to achieve its objectives” (Mustafa Janem, 2011).
Importance of project plan integrity
This section of the assignment it’s about project plan integrity. It includes ethics and values and criteria for project success.
In this situation, managers play the most important role. Generally, they must be capable of adopting principles from standards in order to provide specific ways for quantifying the productivity, with the utility of their experience, their competency and their capacity. Additionally, there can evaluate the productivity rate and assess the skills of the team, using their experience from previous projects with similar tasks. By doing this, they can specify different targets of productivity for each member, according to their skills (Stylianou & Andreou, 2016). At the same time, managers, during the project, must keep in mind the ethical standards and the social impact, because “good ethics is good business”. They are the first who confirm that everything works according to plan. It’s their responsibility to make sure everyone behaves ethically (Helgadottir, 2008), since ethics are the foundation of every project and they contribute to the sustainability of the project (Mishra, Dangayach & Mittal, 2011). In other words, “successful management is the effective quality management” (Al-Tmeemy & Al Bassam, 2018).
Moral conflicts happen quite often, that’s why Vartanainen (2010) insists that students must get educated in the Project-Based Learning (PjBL). Two common “problems” during projects are the “strategic misrepresentation” and “optimism bias”: in the first case, it is believed that is beneficial, in terms, of strategy, when someone keeps the cost estimation deliberately low; in the second one, “people are naturally inclined to estimate things more positively than one could objectively derive from the practice” (Giezen, 2012).
As mentioned above, project plan integrity includes the success of the project too. When it comes to project success, the “triangle” (cost, time and quality; Balfe, Leva, Ciarapica-Alunni & O’Mahoney, 2017; Giezen, 2012; Heravi, Coffey & Trigunarsyah, 2015) is on the top once again. Which means, in general terms, that the project has finished on time, it lays within the estimated budget and it has achieved the quality requirements (Mustafa Janem, 2011; Mishra, Dangayach & Mittal, 2011). When it comes to mega infrastructure projects, though, it means that the project has delivered the required patronage, it has hit an economic spin-off and the public appreciates it (Giezen, 2012). Najmi (2011) also adds up the initial mutual agreement of the team member upon the scope, in accordance with the corporate culture, and the acceptance of the product by the customer. Papke-Shields and Boyer-Wright (2017) state the more clearly the Critical Success Factors (CSFs) that are related either to the implementation process or the operating environment of the project. These are: a) clear goals and objectives, b) support from senior managers, c) characteristics/ conditions that have an impact on the project, d) adequate funds and resources and e) realistic schedule.
A success of the project means achievement of it. As stated earlier, the stakeholders play an important role to the project plans (Al Nasseri & Aulin, 2016; Heravi, Coffey & Trigunarsyah, 2015). The stakeholders must be satisfied and incorporated to the project (this along with the golden triangle are the basic project success criteria of the Project Management Institurion). They must be satisfied both with project management success and the product success. In that way, they help also with the decrease of the anticipated risk, the reduction of the unconstructive actions, the increased economic sustainability and quality of the project (Heravi, Coffey & Trigunarsyah, 2015).
Serrador and Turner (2015) state that the successful project must meet five criteria. These criteria are 1) business success, 2) project efficiency, 3) preparation for the future, 4) impact on the team and 5) impact on the customer. They strongly believed that the more time the workers devote to the activities of the plan, the more successful it will be, with less risk (Serrador & Turner, 2015).
Based on the opinions of Al Nasseri and Aulin (2016), two are the main problems of a project, the slow productivity and the increased cost of it. These situations come from the lack of effective leadership, the reluctance of controlling in the project tasks execution and completeness, and the poor communication among the project team. In order for a project plan to be successful, it needs four prerequisites: 1) involvement of the stakeholders, 2) denouement of the project technical issues, 3) clear definition of the roles in the project and the impact they are going to have in the project performance and 4) a management team with the appropriate abilities and competencies. After that, the team members will be able to control the project activities, to set out a plan they can work on and, eventually, to succeed (Al Nasseri & Aulin, 2016).
In this assignment, there was a discussion about the project planning, by what it consists of, its structure from different perspectives and also the importance of the integrity of the project, in terms of ethics and success. One important aspect of the project planning is the stakeholder, their needs, expectations and satisfaction (or no satisfaction) from the project, and the “golden triangle”, which contain the cost, the time and quality, the three significant components and criteria of the success of each project.
Most of the times, success of the project plan means reduction of the possible risk, which means that the project result might turn out different than expected (Giezen, 2012). For Zwikael et al. (2014), “risk influences the level of planning effectiveness”. If there is a high level of risk, then some problems and obstacles that hint the success might occur. There are different types of risk: a) interal, predictable and uncontrollable, b) internal, non-technical and controllable, c) legal and controllable, d) external, unpredictable and uncontrollable and e) external, predictable and uncontrollable (Zwikael et al., 2014).
In addition to all these, Levasseur (2010) supports that many projects eventually fail. The solution to this situation is a change in the concepts of management. In this way, the success rate of the project will be improved. The Change Management includes four components/ideas: a) people support something that they helped to create, b) two-way and not one-way communication between working members and the project manager, c) commitment of the working team to the project plan and d) collaboration of the team for the best result and a quality product (Levasseur, 2010).
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