These days it is becoming very hard to keep up to date with the latest news for everyone especially for managers and business owners. And environments for every single thing is much more competitive than even before. The most of the companies from small businesses to international organizationals are trying to use different methods or ways to bring these changes, innovations. One of the most common type of ways that is designed to bring innovations to organisation is projects. We may have a question at this time ” what is a project?” and why we need it. “A project is a sequence of unique, complex, and connected activities having one goal or purpose and that must be completed by a specific time, within budget, and according to specification”. So if work has a limited time and it is not repeated after finishing the process we can call them as a project.
There have been thousands of projects in the world history such as The Great Wall of China, water systems in Rome, pyramids in Egypt and so on. Some of them had finished successfully, some of them had not. There are a lot of factors those affect to finish them successfully. I think the main reason for projects to fail is that they are not well planned. What I mean by this if you do not plan your project carefully, it may be finished but it will not be succeed as you expected. That is why we should have a well organised plan to set the project. In addition to all those I have mentioned before there is a big difference between today’s projects and project those were centuries ago. In the past projects had a lack of structure, planning and informal ways of controlling them. They didn’t have modern project management techniques that could help them to work more effectively and efficiently. So today we use project management to control and manage projects that makes our work easier and life better.
Project management is the main part of management sciences. Network plans or we can call it like network projects play main role in the field of project management. And I have decided to write my essay or my project on the topic of “Network plans in project management” so that to learn planning methods, do some research and improve my skills on project management. And I have to mention the fact as there is no plenty of information to collect about this topic it is going to be a real challenge for me to do this assignment. As this topic is my project to finish effectively and efficiently I should have a strong plan, in other words well organised structure. And my main goal from this topic (“Network plans in Project Management”) is to learn network planning methods and increase my abilities to be a good manager in the future. In my course work I will try to explore firstly what is Project Management, what is Network Plans, theoretical basis of Network Planning in Project Management and then description of Morten approach to the Project Management and different approaches to Network Projects including Pert, Critical Path Method, Activity On Arrow, Activity On Node, Gantt Charts, show the evolution of approaches, their advantages and disadvantages, thirdly a case with one of approaches as an example. And at the end I will try to summarize all the ideas and give my personal opinions.
Theoretical basis of Network Planning in Project Management
To star with theoretical basis of network projects in project management, firstly it is better to understand what is really project management. It was just a few decades ago, in the 1950s, that the modern project management was seen as an individual subject within area of economic sciences. However, some people argue that modern project management started to grow in the nineteenth century. I mentioned in the introduction that modern project management differs from the old one because of the managing style. As projects are defined as achieving organization’s strategic plan and they differ from daily routine operations because of their uniqueness and temporary characters. And to do a project employees from different fields or sectors are usually hired. Developing a new product or services, changing the structure of the organisation, designing a new car and so on can be explained as projects. According to PMBOK of Project Management Institute (2000,Pennsylvania, USA) Project Management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet project requirements. It deals with monitoring the process, from exact dates to costs. Project management is a complex with its functions including creating the optimal schedule, make a funding or finance plan of project, managing spendings against budget and reporting to upper management about the process and closing the project. In a short way they can be called like initiating, executing, planning, controlling, reporting and finishing. Sometimes we can be confused because of the difference between process and project management. They both tend to finish the job successfully. However, processes are daily routine of organization’s work but projects are about unique things that brings new changes. And of course project managers manage the projects. They are responsible for the characters of the projects, and they are the followings: determined dates (start and end), limited amount of resources, a goal of the project (also can be a set of goals), finance resources and co-ordinating the activities. I am not going deeply to the all the functions of project management as they are endless. Due to the fact that my essay or assignment must be only about Network plans in project management I will be dealing with planning function of project management. Lets move on to the main part.
Project working is always under the time pressure, so time limit is considerably important thing to get done projects efficiently. Because of all of these challenges in managing projects it is extremely important to have a project plan. Project plan provides with the all the information to every single stakeholders and managers whose work is related to that project. We can call those management type as project integration management. Project integration management involves the processes required to ensure that the every single elements of the project are properly coordinated. It involves making trade-offs among competing objectives and alternatives to meet or exceed stakeholder needs and expectations. Project plan in the beginning is a easy or simple planning tool, however it will become very important organizing tool when the project starts and stays as it was whether project reached it’s goal.
Although there many type of processes, three are the main ones and they are 1) project plan management, 2) project plan execution 3) integrated change control. Actually these processes are strongly connected with each other and each can include one individuals or group of individuals depends on the needs of projects. In every project each of the processes will be included al least once. All of those processes are called project management software and it is a tool that helps to integrate within a project. In addition to this it also runs all project management processes. As the most important process is project plan management and connected widely with network project management I am going to pay more attention to it.
A project network is the main element for calculating budget, equipments, labour force, communication between subordinates, estimated date and begin and finish times. To make the project understandable for everyone included in the project terminology is used. I will try to explain some of the essential ones. It is better to begin with an activity.
An activity is an element of the project network plan. Activities are tasks or requirements that are designed to fill and to meet the aims of the project. Any type of activity must have a period of time to complete it. It needs some resources like workers or personnel, money (budget), space and most of the time relationships. An activity in a project network illustrates that we have to perform which tasks in order to proceed, which resources we will need and the amount of them.
The second one is a parallel activity. As the name of a parallel activity represents, a activity that is on the process at the same time, parallel to other tasks. In addition to this, while we are using parallel tasks, amount of resources that we use will rise automatically because of the high demand at the same time.
The following one is a merge activity. In this case it is one task that is based on more tasks, parallel activities are driven together.
When it comes to the an event, we do not have to spend time for it. It actually defines as a date. That means it is used to find out the exact start date or a time when something is delivered. And an event can be any date as well.
The next one is a path. A path is a connection between the activities which are on the process. There is no time limit, and a path shows the connection of tasks. The critical path has the shortest time consuming part of the project. It is important to pay attention to the critical path at which point it is. This is because if it is delayed that may have an negative impact on the total project duration. The critical path is the main result or outcome after finishing drawing a project network plan. All the projects have those types of the paths and the work-flow of critical tasks to reduce the duration. In other words, all other activities those are not on it will not have an impact on the project. With the knowledge of the critical path project teams can be able to act or react.
Here I tried to draw an example of a project network plan:
There are some basic rules those apply in a period of developing a project plan. The first one is that network plans flow from left hand side to right hand side. This is a law of western writing logic, that is why it is used to make sure everyone will be able to read and understand it.