Project Planning


  • Author Francois Minnaar
  • Published February 24, 2024
  • Word count 962

Project Planning involves the process whereby project scope is planned in terms of times, cost and quality.

Project Management aims to provide a structured approach to the management of projects. A project is in essence a specific undertaking with a fixed starting and finishing point. The tools and techniques associated with Project Management provide a structured framework within the context of which such undertakings must be planned, executed, and monitored.

Project Management has three critical elements: time, cost and quality. These elements interact constantly and a balance must be established and maintained between them. If time and cost receive priority, then quality will be neglected, and vice versa. Projects are limited by the time, cost and quality constrains put on it. In order to optimise the results from projects, it is therefore important to carefully manage these three critical elements of any project. Together they provide the scope of the project. Regardless of their size, the success, or failure of projects are measured in terms of time, resources, and results. Any project will be regarded as successful if it got done on time, if only the resources that have been budgeted for have been used, and if the results agreed upon by the stakeholders were met.

Project planning methodology is based on the principle that activities (or then tasks) required to achieve a specific objective (or aim) must be identified in sequence (the consecutive steps that will lead the implementing entity towards achieving the aim). In project management, this process is referred to as progressive elaboration, which is progression (forward movement) in an elaborated (planned) manner.

Activities are planned in terms of the time it will take to complete, the cost it will consume and results it must produce (including the quality to which these results must comply). Some activities must wait for a preceding one to be finished before it can start (or, at least, the preceding activity must progressed to a certain phase). Such activities are performed in series. Other activities are not dependent, and can be performed simultaneously. These activities are performed in parallel.

The cost, duration and quality of each activities is dependent on the resources allocated to it (in project management this is referred to as “resource loading”; or then, the “loading of resources” to the activity). The type and nature (quality and quantity) of resources available will determine how long it will take to complete, what it will cost, and the quality of the results produced in the process.

The art in project management is to schedule (and share) available resources of a specific type among activities to finish the project as soon as possible, as cheaply as possible and with compliance to the highest quality possible.

Remember, not all activities need to wait for preceding ones to finish before it can start, meaning that, if resources (labourers with the required skills, machinery and material) can be afforded and share among activities, it may considerably shorten the delivery period (time) of the project. However, then these resources must not result in cost increments that deteriorate the cost advantage in the project, and neither of the quality of the products or other value-adding benefits that will ultimately be delivered.

Resources must be loaded to project activities (or tasks) in order to be able to perform it. These resources are categorised as “production” – and “material” resources respectively. Production resources are “producing” the product work, and are normally costed in production units (mostly hourly remuneration or rent). Material resources are used in the processing that takes place in an activities to produce a result (such as raw materials). These types of resources are costed according to quantities purchases (such as ‘bathes” or “individual products”).

Remember, project activities are scheduled over a specific period. This activity duration will dependent on the volumes of resources available (and then more specifically production resources). As a general rule, depending on the productivity of a resources, the more production resources *(such as skilled labourers) available, the faster the task can be completed and the shorter activity duration will be. (That is, until the point of diminishing returns are breached; then more resources will make less-and-less of a difference in how fast the activity can be finished, and to hire such resources beyond this point will be waste (losses) to the project.

Also, some project activities are scheduled in parallel, and can be performed simultaneously with other activities. In such instances, it may be worthwhile to rent more production resources to speed up delivery of the project deliverables.

If you load too few production resources to a project activity, you experience underloads, which will normally increase the duration of the project. Remember, if there is float available on the activities (because it is a parallel activity that can be performed together with another one that is on the critical path an actually determine project duration) this may not be a problem, because the resources can be scheduled to work inside float times, without extending the duration of the project. However, the moment the activity falls on the critical path, underloads will increase the duration of the project.

If you load too many resources to a project activity, beyond the point of diminishing returns, these resources are not optimally efficient and the project suffers implied losses (because you could have finished it in the same time frame with fewer resources – and lower cost). This is called resource overloading. Try to schedule your activities in such a way that you do not experience unnecessary underloads – or overloads.

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