Contemporary and General Managerial Issues
Project Control Techniques

Using appropriate examples discuss three project control techniques. Analyze and evaluate the reasons for using these project control techniques and evaluate their effectiveness.

 

In order to ensure the effectiveness and efficiencies of management of projects, control is essential. The controls of large projects particularly, require close monitoring of resources (Davis et. al., 2000). Attention to details on the various resources, costs, quality, completion time, schedule and budgets are often necessary. In the context of project management, control often means have a feedback mechanism to revise; check; monitor and ensuring the resources and focus are placed on the necessary stage or parts in the management of a project (Heizer & Render, 2006).

In the following paragraphs, three essential project control techniques will be discussed. The three useful project controlling techniques are Program Evaluation and Review (PERT) technique, critical path analysis (CPA) technique and Gantt chart technique. Besides, the rationales and usage of these project controlling techniques will be discussed. Then, the respective advantages and limitations of these techniques will also be presented.

 

Critical Path Method

Critical path method is useful for the manager to schedule, monitor and control the flows and the management of a project. It is particularly useful when the project is large and complex, where tight deadline is imposed on the project. The key advantages of the critical path method are that it is powerful to convey the chain of activities that are critical to the time required to complete a large project. During the implementation stage, the network diagram can be updated, and the status of each of the activities can be known to the managers. By having understanding on the critical path, managers can then exercise more flexibility in determine which activities should be crashed (Stevenson, 2007). In times of urgency, the managers will be able to know how to spend the resources in a most effective manner, and where crashing make most financial or operational sense. Besides, the projects can also be separated into different discrete activities. Under each of the discrete activities, the specific resources required or necessary, or the bottleneck of the activities, and how these issues may affect the entire management of the project will be outlined. Overall, by able to do this, the manager can become more efficient and competitive in managing big and complex projects. The tool is useful to assist the management in decision making process in exercising better control on a particular project. However, the critical path method has several limitations. Firstly, it does not consider the probability of variation in the time required to complete the activities in a project. Secondly, it is not a standalone tool, and its usages should be combined with other project management tools, such as work breakdown structure, Gantt chart and others to better manage a project.

 

Program Evaluation and Review Method

Similar to the critical path analysis, the PERT method is equally useful to control large and complex projects, in terms of scheduling, allocating the resources, identifying the critical activities and provide better information for decision making process for the management. However, PERT can be more powerful as such technique consider the possibilities of variation in completion time required for the various activities in the projects. Thus, the probability of completion before a particularly deadline can be determined. The expected project’s completion time can be determined as well. Besides, the variation of completion time, and the impacts to the critical path can be known more accurately. Thus, overall, such technique enables management to incorporate more realities in the controlling and scheduling process. However, there are several weaknesses of PERT technique. Firstly, the timing estimates for the different activities are subjective to judgment, and thus, the accuracy of the estimates may be heavily dependent on the experiences of the management (Chase et. al., 2005). When the management is inexperience, they can only guess about the time required in completion of the activities, probably in an inaccurate manner (Stevenson, 2007). Besides, the people giving the time estimates have also have personal biases or other reasons of providing a not accurate forecast. When that happens, the expected time for the completion for the entire project or even the critical path of the project may be affected. Not only is that, even when the estimates given is accurate, the PERT technique assume the beta distribution for the time estimates. However, the real time estimates may be different. Such a situation may cause the time estimates for the project to be inaccurate, which will definitely cause certain troubles for the management in controlling the projects in a more efficient manner.

 

Gantt chart

Whole PERT and CPA techniques are useful to analyze the critical path as well as in the computation of times estimates of completion of a project, the Gantt chart is useful to plan and control the tasks that should be completed. By identifying the various tasks and arranged them under a Gantt chart, the management can have a graphical representation on the various tasks to be carried out in a concise manner, and understand when these different tasks should be carried out. Thus, the relevant resources required under the completion of the different tasks can be plan, controlled and allocated accordingly. The orders of the activities can be known, and the linkages or the dependencies of the various tasks can be followed and managed in a more effective manner. Particularly in the implementation process, the Gantt chart is useful for controlling and monitoring the process or progress of the project. At a particular point of time, when certain activities are not completed, management will be able to outline the necessary remedies to handle the crises. This will keep the implementation process on track and to ensure the profitability of the projects during the implementation progress. However, Gantt chart has potential limitations as well. One of them is in the implementation of Gantt chart; management may be easily induced to put down too many details; or in reverse to not putting down enough details in the formulation of Gantt chart (Marks, 2010). It is necessary to ensure sufficient details are incorporated, while at the similar time, not to overburden the process with too many details. The complexities of the Gantt chart should be managed in accordance to the requirement and relevancy of the project being managed. Besides, it is important not to become the slave of Gantt chart, focusing on collecting data to feed into the Gantt chart system, instead of doing what is really necessary or important towards completion of the project (Marks, 2010).

References

Chase, R. B., Aquilano, N. J., and Jacobs, F. R. (2005). Production and operations management:  manufacturing and services.  Boston, MASS.:  Irwin/McGraw-Hill.

Davis, M. M., Aquilano, N. J., and Chase, R. B. (2000). Fundamentals of operations management. Boston, MASS.: Irwin/ McGraw-Hill.

Gaither, N., and Frazier, G. (1999). Production and operations management.  Cincinnati, OH: South-Western.

Heizer, J. H., and Render, B. (2006). Operations management. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall.

Krajewski, L. J., and Ritzman, L. P. (2008). Operations management: strategy and analysis. Reading, MASS.: Addison Wesley.

Markland, R. E., Vickery, S. K., and Davis, R. A. (2001). Operations management: concepts in manufacturing and services.  Cincinnati, OH:  South- Western College Pub.

Marks, P. (2010). Are you a project management Gantt chart slave? Project Smart 2000-2010.

Stevenson, W. J. (2007). Production/operations management. Boston, MASS.: Irwin/ McGraw-Hill.

Wilson, J. M. (2003). Gantt charts: a centenary appreciation. European Journal of Operation Research, 149, 430-437.

 

 

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