Report on Application of Project Planning Techniques
According to PMI (2013), a project is a temporary endeavor, with a defined start and an end point. A project is taken up to create a unique product, service, or a result (p. 3). Project management refers to application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to the various project activities in order to achieve its objectives. Project management is done through 5 process groups, namely, initiation, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing (p. 5). This report focuses on the planning process group. The planning group comprises of the processes required to establish the scope of the project, refine its objectives, and decide the actions to be taken to achieve the project objectives (p. 55). The following sections of the report focus on the project planning of a hypothetical project for construction of a single-storey commercial building. The project is called XYZ Building Project (or XYZ). The scope of the project has been defined. The Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) has been shown, the activities have been defined along with their interrelationships. Bar chart, project network, CPM and PERT methods have been applied. Crashing methods to reduce project duration have been illustrated. Cash flow management of the project has also been depicted. The project planning group forms the basis of subsequent project management activities mentioned in PMI (2013, p. 5), namely, execution and monitoring and control.
Scope of a project is defined as the work done to deliver the product, service, or result. These deliverables are the objectives of the project, and have specified features and functions (PMI 2013, p. 105). The hypothetical project under consideration is the construction of a single-storey commercial building with an internal area of 5,000 square meter. All the offices are to be on the ground floor itself. Since it is a relatively small project, the project has not been divided in construction blocks (e.g Building Block I, II etc). Broadly, the project involves design, construction and handing over of the building. The housing project example mentioned Brotherton, Fried & Norman (2008, pp. 5-12), and the commercial building project examples in Martland (2011), Marco (2011) and Taylor (2009) have been taken as a basis for understanding the main steps in which construction projects are executed. The sequence followed in construction of buildings in these examples has been largely followed. The WBS and activities defined in subsequent sections are put together based on these examples. However, the examples have been used only as a basis, and changes have been made based on common knowledge and personal experience of the group. Details of works and activities are discussed in the following sections.
According to PMI (2013), the work breakdown structure or WBS is created by subdividing project deliverables and project work into smaller, more manageable components. WBS helps create an organized vision for the project. It organizes and defines the entire project scope, and depicts the work specified in the approved scope statement. The work planned is specified in the work packages, which is the bottommost level of WBS (pp. 125-126). Lower levels of WBS are more detailed as compared to the higher levels work (p. 132). Brotherton, Fried & Norman (2008) emphasize that WBS does not describe the processes followed to execute the project. It does not elaborate the schedule either, but focuses on depicting the project outcomes or scope (p. 2).
The WBS for ZYZ is shown in figure 1. For the sake of simplicity (because 20-30 activities have to be considered), tendering process and regulatory approvals to start construction have not been considered in the WBS. Major deliverables are shown in the lowest level. For designing the project, basic drawings, detailed drawings and bill of quantities are required to be progressively created. For construction, which is the next phase, foundation is the first step. This is followed by building the structure, building services (e.g. plumbing, firefighting and heating, ventilation and Air-conditioning), and finally the testing and commissioning, approvals and cleaning to hand over the building.
The planning tools and techniques of project management were applied to a hypothetical single-storey commercial building construction project named as XYZ Building Project. The project scope was defined, a work breakdown structure was created, activities required to accomplish the project objectives were identified, and durations and costs of these activities were also estimated. The durations were represented through a bar chart. For scheduling, the interdependencies were analyzed through a network diagram and the critical path was determined. Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT) was used to improve the accuracy of the duration estimates by factoring uncertainty and risks. Crashing was used to reduce the duration of activities on the critical path. Finally, cash flow tables were created to understand the inflows and outflows based on the project cost. As evident from the exercise, the tools and techniques discussed above are crucial for proper project planning. It is concluded that by applying these techniques, one can understand the scope, the deliverables, and the activities required to complete the deliverables. The interdependencies between the deliverables and the time durations help understand the critical path and the total duration of the project. Crashing techniques can then be applied to the right activities to shorten the duration of the project at minimum cost. It is also critical to understand the cost of the activities and the timing of the cash inflows and outflows to ensure that the work does not suffer due to want of cash.
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