Project Management 2

30Project Management

PROJECT MANAGEMENT 2

Introduction

The company has decided to implement assistive communication technologies into its call centres to address the needs of speech-impaired customers. The audio devices will decode non-verbal messages relayed by speech-impaired customers in a manner that call centre operators can understand. The implementation of the system has resulted in the development of a work breakdown structure that identifies the major functional deliverables and subdivides the deliverables into smaller systems. The project implementation report also includes an analysis of the time management, sequenced activities, estimated duration of activities, defined activities and resource allocated to each activity.

The Network Diagram

The network diagram provides a schematic display of the activities contained in the project schedule including the existing interdependencies between the activities (Towler et al. 2006). Prior to creating the diagram, the project team assembled the necessary inputs. The team ensured that the scheduled definition and the network diagram accounted for all the necessary deliverables contained in the scope. The project team also included the WBS into the network diagram to guarantee a comprehensive reflection of the project activities (Larson & Gray 2011). The project team also gathered and analysed historical data on past similar projects to enhance the accuracy of the schedule estimation or network diagram. The team also used resource calendars as inputs in the creation of the network diagram to display the availability of personnel useful in the implementation of the project as well as holidays contained within the project timeframe. The table below shows the project time management analysis.

Activity

Abbreviation

Duration in Days

Predecessor

Recording

Spectral Analysis and Calculation

Technical Requirements

Contacting Suppliers

Board Design

Algorithm development

Embedded System

Table 1: Project Time Management Analysis

  • Testing- the actual test of the assistive communication technologies in the development phase of the project.

  • Recording- a section of the record management process of the project that entails the creation, maintenance, storage and retrieval of records.

  • Spectral Analysis and Calculation- the computation and analysis of critical measures of the project such as the critical path, forward pass among others.

  • Technical Requirements- the technical expertise required in the project implementation phase from the acquisition of devices through the installation and testing to the follow-up exercises.

  • Board Design- the selection of project stakeholders that will be responsible for all steps associated with the implementation of the project.

  • Algorithm development- the creation of well-defined instructions to yield a perfect execution of the phases of a project.

  • Embedded Systems- Computer or other systems installed or integrated in the firm’s main system to achieve the dedicated function of using assistive audio devices to relay and decode information.

The figure below shows completed activities of the network diagram including their precedence.

Critical Path

The critical path is a crucial metric in the scheduling and planning of a project that determines the extent to which a critical path item delays the completion of a project (Stephen 2012). Customers also consider the critical path to be an important metric in project implementation following its usefulness in generating an effective schedule. The metric also enables the generation of proper work packages in the event that a slippage occurs. The critical path metric influences the project’s delivery date and the EMV. Investors and customers target to reduce the time taken to complete a project as much as possible in a bid to increase the EMV. Even though contractors plan the path prior to the onset of the project, the actual path exhibits a slight deviation from the anticipated path.

Figure 2 below shows the critical path in the implementation of assistive audio devices at the firm.

Project Management 2

Figure 2: Critical Path

The figure above reveals three possible paths for the completion of the project. The paths include:

  • Path ABCDGH that lasts for 220 days. Obtaining the value entails finding the summation of 30+60+15+15+90+10.

  • Path ABCEGH that lasts for 225 days. Determining the number of days in the path entails summing 30+60+15+20+90+10.

  • Path ABFGH that lasts for 280 days. The duration of the path is 280 days obtained by summing 30+60+90+90+10.

From the figure above, the red arrows denote the critical path. This also suffices to be the longest path in the implementation of the project. The contractor understands that any possible delay in either one or more of the activities entailed in the path will result in an extension of the project delivery date of an equal number of days.

Forward Pass Calculations (Early Start, Early Finish)

Forward Pass (Earliest Times)

The first activity of the project marks the onset of the forward pass. The pass then traces other activities in a sequential path to the final activity. Determining the pass entails adding the activity times throughout the network. The time taken to deliver or complete a project is the longest path. This is known as the critical path (CP). Determining the forward pass entails following three main steps.

  • Determine the summation of individual times for each activity along the identified paths.

  • Use the early finish (EF) in the next activity as the early start (ES).

  • In the case of a merge activity for a succeeding event, use the largest value for the early finish (EF) of all activities of the immediate predecessor (Stephen 2012).

Calculating the early finish and early start of the activities requires the use of the formulas below.

Activity A

There is no activity that precedes Activity A. Setting Early Start to be 1 for Activity A (Recording) and applying the formula, the early finish time for Activity A will be the sum of early start duration and the duration of activity A less 1. Since the duration for Activity A is 30 days, the computation of the early finish duration for Activity A is as shown below:

Let the first activity, ES = 1

EFA = ESA + DURA — 1

= 1 + (30 — 1)

Therefore, the early finish duration for Activity A is 30 days.

Activity B

Activity B succeeds Activity A. This implies that the instant of Activity A marks the onset of Activity B. Therefore, the early start for Activity B is 30 days. The computation of ESB is as follows:

ESB =ESA+DURA

Therefore

EFB =ESB + DURB-1

= 31 + (60-1)

Activity C

Activity B precedes Activity C. As a result, EFB is the same as ESC.

To compute ESC:

ESC =ESB+DURB

Therefore

EFC =ESC + DURC-1

=91 + (15-1)

Therefore, EFC is 105 days.

Activity F

Activity B succeeds Activity F. As a result, ESF is equal to EFB.

ESC =ESF → 91

Therefore

EFF =ESF+DURF-1

=91 + (90-1)

Therefore, EFF is 180 days.

Activity D

Activity C precedes Activity D. As a result, EFC is equal to ESD.

ESD =ESC+DURC

Therefore

EFD =ESD+DURD-1

=106 + (15-1)

Therefore, EFD is 120 days.

Activity E

Activity C precedes Activity E. As a result, ESE is equal to EFC.

ESE =ESD → 106

Therefore

EFE =ESE+DURE-1

= 106 + (20-1)

Therefore, EFE is 125 days.

Activity G

Activities D, E and F precede Activity G. Since Activity F has the longest time, it is the controlling EF time. The onset of Activity G necessitates the completion of Activities D, E, and F. As a result, ESG is equal to EFF. To compute ESG:

∵ EFF > EFE > EFD

180 > 125 > 120

∴ ESG = ESF+DURF

∴ EFG =ESG+DURG-1

=181 + (90-1)

Therefore, EFG is 270 days.

Activity H

Activity G precedes Activity H. As a result, ESH is equal to EFG.

ESH =ESG+DURG

∴ EFH =ESH=DURH-1

= 271 + (10-1)

Therefore, EFH is 280 days.

From the computations, the earliest duration for the possible completion of the project will be 280 days. The diagram below shows the computation for the forward pass.

Backward Pass (Latest Times)

The last activity of the project marks the onset of the backward pass. One should then trace individual activities backwards for all identified paths by subtracting the times of the activities to determine the late finish (LF) and the late start (LS) for each activity. The computation of the backward pass necessitates selecting the late finish for the activity of the last project. At the initial phase of project planning, one sets the EF to be equal to the LF value for the last activity of the project. In the case of several finish activities, select the activity having the largest EF value. However, in the case of an imposed deadline for the project duration, the contractor uses the deadline for the project. Computing the backward pass takes place through three main steps.

  • Subtract the individual times for each activity along the path starting with the end activity of the project.

  • Use the computed value in the previous step as the LF for the preceding activity.

  • In the event of a burst activity that turns out to be the preceding activity in the network, establishing the LF necessitates selecting the smallest LF among the immediate activities that succeed the preceding activity (Stephen 2012).

The computation of the Late Finish (LF) and Late Start (LS) of activities requires the application of the formula stated below.

Late Start (LS) = Late Finish (LF) – Duration (DUR) + 1

Calculating LF and LS takes place in the manner shown below

Activity H

∵ LFH =LFH → 280

∴ LSH =LFH-DURH+1

= 280-(10+1)

Therefore, Activity H’s Late Start (LS) is 271 days.

Activity G

LFG =LSH-1

∴ LSG =LFG-DURG+1

=270 — (90+1)

Activity D

LFD =LSG — 1

∴ LSD = LFD-DURD+1

= 180-(15+1)

Activity E

LFE = LDG — 1

∴ LSE = LFE — DURE+1

= 180-(20+1)

Activity F

LFF =LSG — 1

∴ LSF =LFF-DURF+1

=180-(90+1)

Activity C

∵ LSE < LSD; Using the smaller value (Burst)

∴ LFC =LSE-1

∴ LSC = LFC — DURC+1

= 160-(15+1)

Activity B

∵ LSF < LSC; using the smaller value (Burst)

∴ LFB = LSF — 1

∴ LSB = LFB — DURB+1

= 90 — (60 + 1)

Activity A

LFA = LSB — 1

∴ LSA = LFA — DURA+1

= 30 — (30 + 1)

Figure 4 below shows completed activities of the network including the precedence to each activity.

Following the completion of the forward and backward pass analyses, the next endeavour entails determining and calculating slack. The section below details the computation of slack.

Slack (Float) Calculation

The computation of “slack” or “float” enables the identification of items that can be delayed in the project. This occurs following the computation of both forward and backward passes. The total slack value communicates the possible amount of time that the project team can delay a particular activity without having a delay effect on the expected project delivery time. Mathematically, total slack is the difference between LS and ES. This refers to the amount of time that an activity can extend beyond its early finish time without having an effect on the imposed date of project completion or the end date of the project. There are two rules associated with the use of the total slack.

  • Total Slack (SL) = Late Start (LS) – Early Start (ES)

  • Total Slack (SL) = Late Finish (LF) – Early Finish (EF)

In the first rule, it is apparent that the using LS or ES does not have an impact on the end date of the project. As a result, computing the difference between LS and ES yields the Total slack. In a similar way, whether the end date of the project is LF or EF does not impact on the imposed delivery date of the project provided that the date does not extend beyond LF (Stephen 2012). Therefore, the difference between LF and EF yields the Total Slack (SL).

Having the idea in mind, the calculation of total slack (SL) for each activity in the network is as follows:

SL For Activity A

SLACK = LFA — EFA

SLA = 0 days

SL for Activity B

SLACK = LFB — EFB

SLB = 0 days

Slack for Activity C

SLACK = LFC — EFC

= 160 — 105

SLC = 55 days

Slack for Activity D

SLACK = LFD — EFD

= 180 — 120

SLD = 60 days

Slack for Activity E

SLACK = LFE — EFE

= 180 — 125

SLE = 55 days

Slack for Activity F

SLACK = LFF — EFF

= 180 — 180

SLF = 0 days

Slack for Activity G

SLACK = LFG — EFG

= 270 — 270

SLG = 0 days

Slack for Activity H

SLACK = LFH — EFH

= 280 — 280

SLH = 0 days

The figure below shows total slack computations for each activity in the network.

Activity

Abbreviation

Duration (Days)

Allocated Cost ($)

Responsibilities

Recording

Recorder + 1 person

Analysis & Calculation

Two engineers

Technical Requirements

One engineer

Contacting Supplier

One admin

Board Design

One engineer

Algorithm dev.

Two engineers

Embedded Sys.

Two engineers

One tester

Table 2: Schedule & Cost Performance Baseline

Considering the previous Project Time Management Analysis, estimates for the start and finish dates for all activities in the critical path are as shown below.

Abbreviation

Activity

Complete

Duration

Audio Helping System

0

1 Oct 2016

7 Jul 2017

Recording

0

1 Oct 2016

30 Oct 2016

Analysis and Calculation

0

31 Oct 2016

31 Dec 2016

Algorithm development

0

1 Jan 2017

31 Mar 2017

Embedded System

0

1 Apr 2017

30 Jun 2017

0

1 Jul 2017

7 Jul 2017

Table 3: Planned start and completion dates for all activities on the critical path

Q (b): (i)

Actual Performance Table

Abbreviation

Activity

Complete

Duration

Audio Helping System

1 Oct 2016

Recording

1 Oct 2016

30 Oct 2016

Analysis and Calculation

31 Oct 2016

31 Dec 2016

Technical Requirements

1 Jan 2017

15 Jan 2017

Contacting Suppliers

16 Jan 2017

30 Jan 2017

Board Design

16 Jan 2017

5 Jul 2017

Algorithm Development

1 Jan 2017

31 Mar 2017

Embedded System

1 Apr 2017

1 Jul 2017

Table 4: Actual Performance Table

Q (b): (ii)

Before calculating the Schedule Performance Index (SPI), Cost Performance Index (CPI), Schedule Variance (SV), and Cost Variance (CV), it is imperative to compute the Actual Cost (AC), Planned Value (PV), and Earned Value (EV).

Earned Value Calculations

Analysis of Schedule

Earned Value

Earned value refers to the value of the project following its actual completion. It is also known as the budget cost of work performed (BCWP).

Earned Value (EV) = (100% x $4000) + (100% x $12000) + (100% x $3000) + (100% x $2000) + (100% x $5000) + (100% x $18000) + (75% x $18000) + (0% x $2000)

= ($4000) + ($12000) + ($3000) + ($2000) + ($5000) + ($18000) + ($13500) + ($0)

EV = $57500

Planned Value (PV)

Planned value (PV) refers to the portion of the estimate of the approved cost planned to cover the costs of a given activity during a particular period. It is also known as the budgeted cost of work scheduled (BCWS).

Planned Value (PV) = ($4000) + ($12000) + ($3000) + ($2000) + ($5000) + ($18000) +

($18000)

PV = $62000

Following the computations of Earned Value (EV) and Planned Value (PV), it is possible to calculate SPI and SV as shown in the section below.

Project Schedule Variance (SV)

The project schedule variance (SV) is a determinant of whether the project is either ahead or behind its schedule. The formula below computes the schedule variance:

SV = EV – PV

SV = $57500 – $62000

SV = –$4500

Project Schedule Variance (SV) % = (SV / PV) x 100

SV% = (–$4500 / $62000) x 100

SV% = –0.07258 x 100

SV% = –7.258%

Schedule Performance Index (SPI)

The Schedule Performance Index (SPI) is a ration of the EV to the PV. An SPI value that is less than 1 indicates that the project is behind schedule. On the other hand, when the SPI value is greater than 1, the project is ahead of its schedule.

SPI = (EV / PV)

SPI = [($57500) / ($62000)]

SPI = 0.92741

Cost Analysis

Actual Cost (AC)

The Actual Cost (AC) of a project refers to the total costs incurred to accomplish all activities of the project within a given period. It is also known as the actual cost of work performed (ACWP).

AC = ($4000) + ($12000) + ($3000) + ($2000) + ($5000) + ($18000) + ($16500)

AC = $60500

Cost Variance (CV)

Cost Variance (CV) refers to the difference between the actual and planned cost amounts of a project.

CV = EV – AC

CV = $57500 – $60500

CV = –$3000

Project Cost Variance (CV) % = (CV / EV) x 100

CV% = (–$3000 / $57500) x 100

CV% = –0.05217 x 100

CV% = –5.217%

Cost Performance Index (CPI)

CPI is an indicator of cost-efficiency determined by computing the ratio of EV to AC.

CPI = (EV / AC)

CPI = [($57500) / ($60500)]

CPI = 0.9504

Q (b): (iii)

Situations and Possible Scenarios Analysis

The following inferences are evident from the calculations and analysis.

  • SV = -$4500. The result is a negative value. This implies that the project is behind schedule. As a result, the delivery time of the project will extend beyond the time allocated to complete the project. SV% = -7.258%. Therefore, the project is behind schedule by 7.258%.

  • SPI = 0.92741. The computed result is less than 1. As a result, the performance of the project is not as planned since it operates at an efficiency of 92.741%.

  • CV = -$3000. This also reveals a negative value that implies that the expenditure of the budget exceeded the allocated budget. Since CV% = -5.217%, the actual expenditure exceeded the allocated budget by 5.217%.

  • CPI = 0.9504. Since the value is less than 1, every $1 spent yields $0.9504 worth of work input. From the finding, it is evident that the situation is considerably bad.

  • From table 5, it is evident that embedded systems (Activity G) is responsible for the lagging of the project behind the schedule (SPI = 0.75). The activity’s expenditure also exceeds the allocated budget (CV = -$3000, CPI = 0.81). The activity has also caused the project to overrun its allocated budget.

Q (b): (iv)

Cost Forecast Analysis

Budget at Completion (BAC)

This refers to the amount or budget allocated to complete a project or contract. It is usually plotted over time.

BAC = ($4000) + ($12000) + ($3000) + ($2000) + ($5000) + ($18000) + ($18000) + ($2000)

BAC = $64000

Estimate at Completion (EAC)

This refers to the forecasted project cost during the implementation process of the project. The computation of the estimate in the project is as follows:

EAC = (BAC / CPI) EAC

= ($64000 / 0.9504)

EAC = $67340.067

Estimate To Complete (ETC)

This entails an estimate of the cost that is necessary to complete the remaining part of the project. The computation and application of the estimate is appropriate when the need for new estimates exists or when the underlying estimate assumptions are invalid. In the project, the computation of the estimate is as follows:

ETC = EAC – AC

ETC = $67340.067 – $60500

ETC = $6840.067

Comments

ETC = $6840.067. From the figure, it is evident that completing the project in accordance with the current spending efficiency or cost performance index requires $6840.067.

Variance at Completion (VAC)

This refers to the difference between BAC and EAC. The computation of VAC in the project is as follows: VAC = BAC – EAC

VAC = $64000 – $67340.067

VAC = –$3340.067

Comments

VAC = -$3340.067. Since the figure is less than 0, the actual cost of the project has exceeded the allocated budget.

Q (b): (v)

To Complete Performance Index (TCPI)

This is a metric used in Earn Value Management that determines whether an independent estimate is reasonable during the phase of project completion. The computation of TCPI in the project is as shown below:

TCPI = [(BAC – EV) / (EAC – AC)]

TCPI = [($64000) – ($57500) / ($67340.067) – ($60500)]

TCPI = 0.9503

Comments

TCPI = 0.9503 thus implying that the completion of the project in the allocated budget requires a 95.03% working performance rate of the project. The value indicates that the program can spend 0.0497 or approximately 0.05 less than the allocated budget so as to attain EAC.

Task 3: Quality Control

Quality controlling is a crucial aspect in the project since it enables the identification and rectification of potential mistakes in the implementation of the audio system at the firm. Effective control of the quality of the project also enables the contractor to evade problems in the implementation of the assistive audio devices. This includes identifying areas of non-conformance associated with the audio devices. As a result, the implementation of the project necessitates frequent checking and analysis of the performance of the assistive audio devices to ascertain that the project attains the applicable quality standards.

Quality Control

This is an area of project management that aims at ensuring high-standard implementation of the project in accordance with the applicable standards of quality in the industry (PM4DEV 2016). Rather than focusing on completing the project within the imposed deadline, the project team also ensures that the delivered project yields the best outcomes in the industry. User expectations or the end user determines the desired quality of the project as opposed to the contractor or members of the project team that are implementing the programme. The successful implementation of quality control requires the project manager to plan and define the desired quality, undertake quality assurance and manage project quality in accordance with the current applicable industry standards.

This entails a certified system that manages the quality of projects in organisations that intend to communicate their adherence to delivering products and services that respond to the needs of customers and other stakeholders. In the case of the project, the objective of ISO 9001 standards is to ensure that the implemented assistive audio devices addresses communication needs exhibited by the disadvantaged needs thereby enabling the organisation to decode the relayed information. Applying ISO 9001 standards in the project takes place through the following techniques:

The Project Quality Plan

Prior to the onset of the implementation of the assistive audio devices, the quality manager will engage in adequate and proper planning of the project. The deliverable of the up-front quality planning is the development of a well-defined quality plan for the project (WordPress 2011). By so doing, the quality manager ascertains that the resulting project minimises possible issues and maximises all enhancements. The necessity of the quality plan is the fact that customers would opt for new technologies without assessing the “dark” side of such technologies.

Monitoring Quality (Assurance and Control)

Following the clear definition of the quality plan by the quality manager, the manager would ensure the successful and effective implementation of all aspects of the plan. Monitoring quality entails monitoring the implementation and testing of the assistive devices to ensure the effective addressing of any emergent issues (WordPress 2011). Quality monitoring prevents the adverse effects from becoming evident following the completion of the project. Therefore, quality monitoring should be a continuous process in the entire process of implementing the project.

Quality Tools and Processes

The successful management of the project’s quality also entails the use of quality tools and processes. Some of the tools include the cause and effect diagram, Pareto charts and 6-sigma (Sokovic et al. 2009).

  1. The Cause and Effect Diagram

The tool plays a pivotal role in the analysis of the cause and effect. In essence, using the tool would enable the quality manager to identify potential problems associated with the project as well as their effects to the objective of the project. Therefore, the manager would explore all possible causes of problems associated with assistive technologies such as device malfunctions or literacy levels associated with such devices before developing possible solutions. The steps include the identification of the problem, determining the factors causing the problem, identifying possible causes and analysing the diagram.

  1. Pareto Chart

The manager would also use the Pareto chart in accordance with the 80/20 rule that states that a 20% input would yield an 80% output. The analysis of the Pareto chart would enable the manager to identify specific tasks or activities that yield substantial effects to the project.

The objective of Six Sigma analysis is to ensure that customers have the best experience when using the product. As a result, the quality manager would find it appropriate to use the approach with the intention of ascertaining that speech-impaired individuals as well as other people that can use the devices communicate effectively to the organisation. In essence, the approach would eliminate defects associated with the devices thereby yielding an almost perfect project.

Quality Follow Up

It is apparent that the successful rolling up of the programme implies that the assistive communication devices have managed to address customer needs. It would be unprofessional and unwise to finalise the contract without making a follow-up on the actual performance of the project (Newton 2015). The follow-up enables the quality manager to identify emerging flaws in the project that were not evident during the implementation phase.

Quality Metrics

This refers to a measure of the product’s quality. Quality metrics also apply to processes (Cem Kaner 2009). It would be the responsibility of the quality manager to ascertain the measured representation of the needs of clients using quality metrics.

Qualitative Metrics

Qualitative metrics entail non-numeric metric used in the representation of ambiguous data. In the project, performing qualitative analysis will enable the quality control department to understand individual feedback responses given by users regarding the performance of the devices and equipment. By so doing, the quality manager will evaluate the general performance of the project with regards to the expected outcome.

Quantitative Metrics

Quantitative metrics are applicable on numeric or quantifiable information. In the project, determining the proportion or percentage of users that indicate a positive feedback towards the new system would be a proper quantitative metric that measures the performance of the system. Determining the additional profitability of the firm following the implementation of the assistive audio devices is the other example.

In the case of implementing assistive audio devices in the firm, it is proper to establish the following metrics based on the internal company, industry standards, and customer requirements.

  • The frequency response of the audio device should range from 20Hz to 20,000Hz with a maximum of ±1dB negative or positive deviation.

  • There should be a high signal-to-noise ratio (above 1) to guarantee negligible noise in the background thereby improving on the quality of the system.

  • The device’s dynamic range should also be high enough to yield clear sound.

  • The Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) should be less than 1% to ensure that the devices display the highest levels of fidelity possible.

  • The performance of the devices should also guarantee high levels of customer satisfaction by addressing the initial communication challenges encountered primarily by speech-impaired customers.

  • The project should have an efficient materials management system to deal with material scrap accumulated during its implementation.

Reference List

Cem Kaner, J D 2009, ‘Metrics, Qualitative Measurement, and Stakeholder Value’, Conference of the Association for Software Testing.

Larson, E W & Gray, C F 2011, ‘Project Management: The Managerial Process’.

Newton, P 2015, ‘Managing Project Quality’, Project Skills.

PM4DEV 2016, ‘Project Management for Development Organisations’, Project Quality Management.

Soković, M, Jovanović, J, Krivokapić, Z & Vujović, A 2009, ‘Basic quality tools in continuous improvement process’, Journal of Mechanical Engineering, Vol. 55, no. 5, pp.333-341.

Stephen, A D 2012, ‘The Drag Efficient: The Missing Quantification of Time on the Critical Path’, Defense AT&L Magazine.

Towler, C, Hall, E & Wall, K 2006, ‘Developing an understanding of how network diagrams can represent and support communication, In International Conference, Warwick.

Wordpress 2011, ‘Ensuring Project Quality-Key Ideas’, Program Success. Available from: https://programsuccess.wordpress.com/2011/05/03/ensuring-project-quality-key-ideas/