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Author : DAOUDI Samir | Context : MSc Software Engineering – IT Project Management

The success or failure of a project depends on different criteria, but before addressing the different reasons on a project failure two important axes in the project definition are the Cost and Schedule. These two lasts are generally very important for the company’s decision makers who focus and concentrate particularly on these two axes.

The project managers or PMO prepare a scope of project for the requirements and the expected outputs of the project, they also do a fastidious and very difficult analysis and estimation tasks, which consist in the estimation and prediction of required resources, budget and time for the project.
If these tasks were an easy and exact science, they would be called the ‘Calculation’ of budget and time required, and not the estimation. So we initially know that this is just a prediction, the exact values can be close to what has been predicted and in some situations very far. Due to the existence of some incontrollable parts in the project, Project managers undertake another process called the Risks analysis in which they try to identify all the possible risks that might alter their estimations of time and budget and anticipate these situations by having alternatives to completely avoid or at least minimize the impact of the risk (Jones, 2007).

The time schedule is very important axe, even if the quality and budget are satisfied in the project; Most projects fails for non-respect of the schedules. This estimation is based on the scope and than the WBS, which describes the different tasks that should be performed by the different resources of the project. So, the starting point is the WBS and than the other project phases come as the schedule, budget estimation, project network, assigning tasks to resources …etc. Hence, any modification in the WBS will have a cascading effect to the other parts of the project (Schwalbe, 2011).
Once the project schedules have been estimated, this estimation should be finally reviewed with the different actors and stakeholders, once signed and agreed; it is important to maintain and have a strict control over the different schedules. The project schedules should be controlled in a regular basis, and here is a list of actions that should be undertaken in order to control the project schedules:

– Regular meetings: In order to get updates about the situation, what is going on with the different tasks? Having different meeting in regular basis is very important, and the meeting should b
– Issues anticipations: It is important that the project manager and the team leaders should be aware of all the difficulties that the developers and the team members are facing, even if this last are just small problem. This might allow the project manager to take some actions to avoid that the small problems became a real project’s issue. The actions should be to consider any alternatives, adding extra resources or just reporting to the customer and the senior management (Neumann .et.al, 2003).
– Defining the different measures and controls: When the project manager is experienced with the project’s type and with appropriate knowledge of team’s skills, it can be easy to define the different measure and baselines and check regularly the respect of these last.
– Allowing a security margin: When defining the project schedule, different technics exist to estimate the tasks duration. The most important technics are the:
– Stochastic method: In which the task’s duration is estimated with a margin of possible variation. I personally think that this method is the best, as we will be dealing with estimation, it can be good to have a variation as security margin.
– Deterministic method: In this method it is supposed that the project manager is very experienced with the actual project type, and hence, can provide an exact estimation of the tasks duration.
Finally, it is important to plan and have a good risks analysis that assures the respect of project schedules, which is an important criterion for the whole project success.

Referencing:

– Kathy Schwalbe (2011). Information technology, Project Management. ISBN: 978-1-111-22175-1.

– Richard Jones (2007). Project Management Survival: A Practical Guide to Leading, Managing and delivering challenging projects. ISBN: 978-0-7494-5010-6.

– Klaus Neumann, Christoph Schwindt, Jürgen Zimmermann (2003). Project Scheduling with Time Windows and Scarce Resources: Temporal and scarce resources. ISBN: 3-540-40125-3.

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