Project Planning

PROJECT PLANNING 6

ProjectPlanning

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ProjectPlanning Scheduling, Budgeting, and Risk Management

Allprojects are characterized by a sequence of activities and havesimilar attributes. These attributes and sequences apply acrossprojects of many types: engineering projects, social work, and evenIT projects. The attributes being referred to include a knownstarting time, an approximate end time, precise objectives, expecteddeliverables and estimated cost (Gurmin, 2010). The success of aproject is pegged to a large extent on the foundation laid before theactual project begins. To begin with, there is the organization thatneeds the project to be done, and there is the project team that willundertake the project. These two entities are the key stakeholders toany project. Each needs to play their role with utmost effectivenessfor the targeted objectives to be achieved. This reliance on eachother for the success of the project necessitates a high level ofaccountability between these two entities.

Theproject owner has several responsibilities. The first is to identifywhat exactly they want. This involves understanding their currentsystem and identifying gaps that they would want the project team tofill. They should have an idea whether they want adjustments to bemade to the existing system, or they want an entirely new system tobe developed. At this stage, the project team can keep themaccountable by doing their own survey of user requirements to ensurethe need presented to them is not exaggerated or underestimated.

Thereason proper assessment of the project requirements andcommunication is paramount is because it forms the backdrop of theentire project. If the requirements are assessed wrongly, everythingelse that follows will be in error. It will result in eitheroverestimating or underestimating the project costs, and the time itwill require to complete the project (Drinkwater, 2011). If therequirements are not communicated to the project team properly, theymay design the system with the misguided requirements.

Theobvious results from an improper design is a system that notcongruent with the organizations outlined needs. Revising a design tocorrect the system has an implication on the cost and time allocatedto the project. The ways to identify project success can be traced byits completion within the time, and budget allocated, and meeting theneeds of the organization. Hence, poor requirement analysis is likelyto result in a system that fails by all the three parameters.

Itis possible to recover from an improper requirement analysis, andavert extensive damage. Therefore, not all situations where suchincompetence in needs gathering or improper communication to thesystem developers results in doom. Every stage of the projectpresents a risk to the project failure (Gurmin, 2010). What thatmeans, therefore, is that requirement analysis is not the solepossible loophole to project failures. Hitches in schedulingactivities, poor cooperation between the project management and thesenior management are other possible causes of dire project failures.

Projectschedule management should be a major concern for every projectmanager, and the project owner as well. This is where utmostaccountability between these two entities is exercised. It is withinschedule management that progress is assessed. Such assessmentreveals any necessary adjustments in terms of time and costs. Ifthere are any changes, the project owner should put the projectmanager to task to justify the changes (Drinkwater, 2011). Theproject manager should also be keen to ensure the project is flowingas planned.

Microsoft’sanalysis of project financial analysis suggests that budgetarydisbursements are usually a very common culprit in causing projectdelays. The reason is that financial disbursements are a lengthyprocess. The process begins with the project manager coming up withan estimated budget after internalizing the system requirements. Thebudget is presented to the management of the organization forapproval. The problem usually arises if the senior management doesnot agree to the project unanimously. Money to run the project maynot be released until the senior management is convinced about thescope of the project. Interestingly, such delays can end up makingthe project more costly as any project staff already in the groundmay still need to be remunerated (Microsoft, 2012).

Onthe side of the project manager, besides presenting the estimatedbudget in bulk, they still have a huge task in resource planning. Thebest way to handle budgetary issues in projects is to develop a workbreakdown structure (WBS) early on during the project (CEIM Reporter,2011). A work breakdown structure is one of the project manager’spowerful tools. It enables him/her to keep close tabs on how well theproject team is fairing. He/she can tell on a daily basis when theproject team is on, behind or ahead of the schedule.

Thisup-close monitoring of the schedule is helpful to keep a log of theissues either resulting into delays or enabling swift accomplishmentof tasks. In the case of any necessary adjustments in costs and time,the project manager can present these valid observations to thesenior management. By so doing, the project manager’s effectivenessin monitoring the project aids the management in decision-making(CEIM Reporter, 2011).

Anothercritical aspect of project management is project risk management. According to Bart (2011), risk management is not an individualactivity undertaken during the project. Rather, it is a concept thatis embedded in the entire project process. Possible risks should bequantified and factored in the cost budget estimate. Risks that arenot likely to result into a financial impact but can have an effecton time should be factored in while coming up with the project timeschedule. The project team should understand clearly the risksinvolved in the development of a certain system.

Throughthe project manager, the project team can enlighten the seniormanagement on such risks, and their possible implications on cost,time, and quality of the resulting system. The senior managementcannot rely fully on the opinion of the project manager. Excessivetrust could be a risk in itself (Bart, 2011). Thus, it is necessarythat they have a staff who understands the project and the company togive an objective analysis of the budget, schedule and riskspresented by the project manager. With such objective input anddeliberations with the project manager, the management canrationalize and make decisions.

Ananalysis of the various activities of a project reiterate the earlierassertion that a project requires a high degree of reliance betweenthe project team and the organization, especially the management.Although mistakes in scheduling, budgeting, and risk management arepossible ingredients to the failure of a project, none seems to poseas big a threat as pre-project planning and communication. Suchmistakes have a bearing on one or two parameters of project success.Pre-project planning primarily entails requirement analysis andcommunicating them to the project manager. It is the only aspect thathas a bearing on all three key parameter of project success: cost,time, and suitability of the system to the requirements. This is tosay in short that a project succeeds or fails at the launching stage.

References

Bart,J. (2011). 10 Golden rules of project risk management. ProjectSmart.Retrieved from:

&nbsp http://www.projectsmart.co.uk/10-golden-rules-of-project-risk-management.html

CEIMReporter. (2011). Owner’sproject schedule management for high rise office building projects: Acase study of scheduling.Retrieved from:

&nbsphttp://professionalprojectmanagement.blogspot.com/2011/03/owners-project-schedule-management-for.html.

Drinkwater,A. (2011) Propermethods for resource planning.Retrieved from:

&nbsphttp://blog.projectconnections.com/project_practitioners/2011/02/proper-methods-for-resource-planning.html

Gurmin,S. (2010). Effective project management. Onlinepresentation.Retrieved from:&nbsp

http://issuu.com/shaun-gurmin/docs/effective_project_management_presentation_01

Microsoft(2012). 5steps to prepare your project budget.Retrieved from:

&nbsphttp://office.microsoft.com/en-us/project-help/5-steps-to-prepare-your-project-budget-HA001141182.aspx