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Project Scheduling

Original Gantt Chart

Gantt chart is a useful tool to create and manage the project schedule. It helps to streamline the project as an interconnected set of tasks. It helps to ensure that each task can be completed through allocated resources within the time and defined budget (Heagney, 2016). In this given Gantt chart, one of the tasks with name “monitor user feedback” is ongoing but it is starting after the finish of previous task “deploy app on app store”. This ongoing task is assumed to consume 5 days but it can be extended to take 7 days without impacting the project progress and outcomes. Further, the project start date is not given so it is assumed that the project is starting on 17 July.

chart

chart 1

Figure 1: Original project schedule

The project activities are identified by using task ID starting from 1. It is also ensured that a summary activity is added at top to identify more details. It is identified that the project is taking around 162 working days in completion of the project while monitoring of the user feedbacks in post launch and maintenance phase is an ongoing task.

Critical path analysis and 3-point estimation

Original critical path

In project execution, a path or a sequence of activities consuming the longest duration of the project is considered critical. Such sequences can lead delays and results in project failures. Therefore, critical path analysis is important to identify the possible longer chains of activities and consider suitable alternatives to reduce resource allocation and limitations of the time for various tasks (Lock, 2020).

In original Gantt chart, it is assumed that the project is not yet started so no activity is completed. In such cases, the project has the following critical path identifiable by the task ID as already indicated in above figure.

network 1 network 2

Figure 2: Network diagram with highlighted critical path

In this critical path, only tasks with ID such as 17, 18, 20, 21 and 22 are not critical as they are getting lag time for their completion. It is analysed that the almost entire project is critical and cannot be completed within time or budget with current scenario.

3-point Estimation Technique

In three-point estimation, the project activity is analysed for optimistic, pessimistic and most-likely duration to identify the probable duration in which the project can be completed. This technique utilizes the previous experiences and best-guesses to estimate the durations. The technique is helpful to estimate the durations so that suitable changes can be considered to mitigate the risks and challenges (Harrison & Lock, 2017). Considering the three-durations, project evaluation and review technique time or beta time is identified which is calculated using the formula: PERT= (optimistic time + 4 x most-likely time + pessimistic time) / 6.

This technique is used for the critical activities only and it is assumed that if the team performs effectively, the optimistic time is 10% less than the most-likely time. However, pessimistic time is 30% over the most-likely time for the critical activities if team fails to perform effectively. It is assumed that the pessimistic time for the activities up to starting of the phase 3 is same as the most-likely duration (Meredith et al., 2017). The project takes around 166 days on an average when analysed considered all the durations.

Tools and Techniques to Manage Schedule

There are several techniques to manage schedule including Gantt chart tracking and consideration of additional time for critical activities. However, the most efficient technique for the project is to consider working hours because the resources are limited by the working hours on the project and their working hours determined the overall cost. Therefore, the schedule can be optimized by adding either lag time to the activities or by optimizing the working hours of the resources (Kerzner, 2017). In lag time, the project may have higher degree of flexibility but it will increase the overall duration while the project is already running ahead behind the schedule.

Cost Management Planning

Resource Allocation

The project is assumed to have no additional cost factors such as cost for hardware and services. The only cost domain is cost of resources. Following is the allocation of resources to various activities:

Resources are allocated according to roles and capabilities. For instance, the project manager can take the work of business analyst and project officers but the project manager cannot do the work of user interface designer or back-end developer due to technical limitations. Further, the original Gantt chart was taking more than 6 months and therefore, it was behind the schedule (Hansen et al., 2021). If the resources are allocated for full-time then there was problem of the resource overallocation considering their maximum units on the activities and maximum working hours. However, all the resources are allocated considering following things:

Prorated accruing: it means that the resources are allocated on-demand basis so that they are paid for the working hours on each day. This approach has two major benefits for the project. First, there is cost optimization because the project sponsor has to pay only for the working hours, even when the employee is working less than eight hours a day. Second, there is higher flexibility of the resources for the work (Heagney, 2016). For instance, if David is assigned to a task for 2 days but working only 7 hours then David can work for 2 hours on first day and 5 hours on second day or any other combination of the working hours to make total to 7 hours.

Budget and schedule constrain: if the resources are overallocated, the project may need more time to complete the project task or there is higher cost associated with over-time or additional resources. An efficient resource allocation considering their working hours for each activity helps to achieve optimized schedule and budget. The approach to estimate the schedule or hours for each activity is based on the previous experience and capabilities. It helped to reduce the overall project duration and now the project can be completed within six months as required.

Cost Management Planning Components

Cost estimation helps to save the project from finance-based failures. There are several techniques and tools used to plan and control the cost.

Parametric estimation: the project manager utilises the historical data and variables to estimate duration, cost and scope of the project. It includes research on previously completed projects, calculation of various per unit costs and adjustment in the propositions to define project scope. Accuracy in estimation is subjected to the quality and availability of the historical data (Gardiner, 2017). This method is used to plan schedule and estimate duration and cost for the various activities.

Bottom-up approach: The project is divided into smaller and interconnected activities. Later, each activity is analysed and then grouped into task so that budget for each task can be estimated. In this manner, bottom-up approach is used to estimate the overall cost for the project.

Three-point estimation: this technique is not only used to estimate the duration but the project weight is also estimated to identify estimated budget. It allows to compare the budget in various durations and reach a median value where project can meet the outcome (Kerzner, 2017).

Earned value analysis: In between the project, the planned and actual costs are used to understand the earned value. It helped to understand the project progress with respect to time and cost. It provides quantitative data so that more informed decision can be taken to handle the probable risks and challenges (Bryde et al., 2018).

Final Project Budget and Rationale

The final project budget is $73,870 and it is estimated using the hourly efforts of the resources working on the project. There is no inclusion of the cost that may be required on hardware components, operations and services. It also does not include the cost for the risk management which could be 10% of the defined budget.

The proposed project budget seems valid considering the previous experience to design an application system. In such project, the project manager and officer generally handle the initial tasks and assist the team in research, communication and coordination. The most of the work is managed by designers and developers such as Kenneth and Selina. Considering the nature of the work, the resources are optimally allocated so that the project budget is feasible.

Earned Value Aanalysis

It helps to measure the project performance and progress in an objective way. It helps to understand how the project can be changes for the upcoming activities to resolve the schedule and cost specific challenges occurred in already completed tasks (Bryde et al., 2018). It compares the planned and actually completed work and assist in forecasting the final cost and duration of the project.

It is assumed that the project is in progress and there is need to measure earned value for 30th day in phase 4 which is 6 October when phase-4 is starting from 25 August. Here is earned value analysis on that day.

From the analysis, it is identified that the project has utilized $46,080 from the total budgeted cost. From schedule and cost variance, it is identified that the project is on time and it is behind the budget. It means the project can be completed on time effectively.

References

Bryde, D., Unterhitzenberger, C., & Joby, R. (2018). Conditions of success for earned value analysis in projects. International Journal of Project Management, 36(3), 474-484.

Gardiner, P. (2017). Project management: A strategic planning approach. Bloomsbury Publishing.

Hansen, D. R., Mowen, M. M., & Heitger, D. L. (2021). Cost management. Cengage Learning.

Harrison, F., & Lock, D. (2017). Advanced project management: a structured approach. Routledge.

Heagney, J. (2016). Fundamentals of project management. Amacom.

Kerzner, H. (2017). Project management: a systems approach to planning, scheduling, and controlling. John Wiley & Sons.

Lock, D. (2020). Project management. Routledge.

Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., & Mantel Jr, S. J. (2017). Project management: a strategic managerial approach. John Wiley & Sons.      

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