Project Management Techniques

Project management involves decision making for the planning, organizing, coordination, monitoring and control of a number of interrelated time bound activities. Project Manager therefore, often depends on tools and techniques that are effective enough not only for drawing up the best possible initial plan but also capable of projecting instantaneously the impact of deviations so as to initiate necessary corrective measures. The search for an effective tool has resulted in development of a variety of techniques.

These project management techniques can be classified under two broad categories. 

1. Bar Charts
2. Networks

Bar Charts - Bar charts are the pictorial representation of various tasks required to be performed for accomplishment of the project objectives. These charts have formed the basis of development of many other project management techniques.

1. Gantt Chart - Henry L Gantt (1861 – 1919) around 1917 developed a system of bar charts for scheduling and reporting progress of a project. These charts latter were known as Gantt Charts. It is a pictorial representation specifying the start and finish time for various tasks to be performed in a project on a horizontal time-scale. Each project is broken down to physically identifiable and controllable units, called the Tasks. These tasks are indicated by means of a bar, preferably at equi-distance in the vertical axis and time is plotted in the horizontal axis. Length of the bar indicates required time for the task whereas the width has no significance. Though the bar chart is comprehensive, convenient, and very effective.

It has the following limitations;

· Like many other graphical techniques are often difficult to handle large number of tasks in other words a complex project.

· Does not indicate the inter relationship between the tasks i.e., if one activity overruns time what would be the impact on project completion.

2. Milestone Chart - Milestone chart is an improvement over the bar chart (Gantt chart) by introducing the concept of milestone. The milestone, represented by a circle over a task in the bar chart indicates completion of a specific phase of the task. In a milestone chart a task is broken down in to specific phases (activities) and after accomplishment of each of the specific activity a milestone is reached or in other words an event occurs. The chart also shows the sequential relationship among the milestones or events within the same task but not the relationship among milestones contained in different tasks.

Weaknesses of this chart are as follows;

· Does not show interdependence between tasks.
· Does not indicate critical activities.
· Does not consider the concept of uncertainty in accomplishing the task.
· Very cumbersome to draw the chart for large projects.

Networks - The network is a logical extension of Gantt’s milestone chart incorporating the modifications so as to illustrate interrelationship between and among all the milestones in an entire project. The two best-known techniques for network analysis are Programme Evaluation and review Technique (PERT) and Critical Path Method (CPM).

These two techniques were developed almost simultaneously during 1956-1958. PERT was developed for US navy for scheduling the research and development activities for Polaris missiles programme.

CPM was developed by E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company as an application to construction project. Though these two methods were developed simultaneously they have striking similarity and the significant difference is that the time estimates for activities is assumed deterministic in CPM and probabilistic in PERT. There is also little distinction in terms of application of these concepts.

PERT is used where emphasis is on scheduling and monitoring the project and CPM is used where emphasis is on optimizing resource allocation. However, now-a-days the two techniques are used synonymously in network analysis and the differences are considered to be historical.

Both CPM and PERT describe the work plan of project where arrows and circles respectively indicate the activities and events in the project. This arrow or network diagram includes all the activities and events that should be completed to reach the project objectives.


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